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SKU: AM00308 Category:


Description: Writing on July 31, 1861 (Arlington Mill, Virginia), ten days after the Battle of Bull Run, Private Merrick Stowell relates his march into Virginia as the Union Army is retreating.

Stowell gives a descriptive account of meeting “stragglers” and “two whole regiments” as they marched toward Fairfax, not realizing at that time “the retreat of the whole army.” He concludes “It was shameful the way our army retreated. It was no disgrace to be repulsed by the batteries, but it was a disgrace to retreat from Fairfax. I see the papers blame Genl. (Robert) Patterson, but had (Brig. Genl. Irvin) McDowell been the right sort of a man Fairfax would now be in our possession. It made me angry, ashamed of our troops to see them retreating as they did. It was simply a panic without any sufficient cause.” He is certain that their regiment is “the most advanced of any,” “We hold a strong position on the bank of a creek supported by two pieces of artillery” and “had the enemy followed up their advantage [they] should have had a fight. As it is only one man has been shot. He was out on a scouting expedition and carelessly exposed himself. He died shortly after being shot. As an offset two rebels have been killed.”  He adds that “the men are in good spirits” in spite of the hard work.

 The recipient of the letter is likely to be educator Edward Austin Sheldon. Stowell is glad that Sheldon’s schools are doing well, adding “Judging from the programme as laid down in the papers [the event in Watertown] will prove an interesting occasion. . . . Remember me to Mrs. Sheldon.” Signed “Yours Truly, M. Stowell”

The letter is written on four pages of 5” x 8”  ivory wove paper. Included is full typed transcript of the letter. Item #AM00308

Merrick Stowell (1838-1921) was passionate about gaining a liberal education, but when the Civil War began he enlisted as a private in Company B, 24th Oswego Regiment, returning to continue teaching. He pursued legal studies later and had an illustrious career as the District Attorney of Oswego in 1887 and as the County Judge of Oswego county starting 1899.

Edward Austin Sheldon (1823-1897), a well-known educator, was the Superintendent of Syracuse School district. He introduced the “Oswego Method,” the revolutionary pedagogy of the Swiss educator, Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, to the Oswego school systems. He is the Founding President of SUNY, Oswego, which started as the Oswego Primary Teachers Training School.

Condition: Mailing fold lines, light soil (esp. on page 4), otherwise in very good condition.