Title: Fowler, Samuel. Civil War diary,
Date (inclusive): 1862-1865
Collection number: M0269
1 linear ft. (1 manuscript box and 1 print box)
Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
Abstract: Raised in Iowa, Fowler enlisted in the Confederate forces in February of 1862 at the age of 19. He was a member of the 2nd
Missouri Volunteer Regiment of Infantry which crisscrossed the South, seeing action in every major battle of that area for
the next three years. He survived the war, returning to Missouri where at some time he ran for the office of County Clerk
of Knox County.
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Samuel Fowler Civil War diary. M0269. Dept. of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.
In the Civil War, Missouri was a critical border state, containing numbers of Northern and Southern sympathizers. Before the
outbreak of war, popular Sterling Price, an ex-governor of Missouri and staunchly on the Southern side, had formed the Missouri
Home Guard MHG) that was predominantly pro-Southern. With the War declared, "Pappy" Price quickly engineered the formation
of the 2~' Missouri Volunteer Regiment of Infantry, the nucleus of which was the MHG, and brought it formally under the Confederate
banner. The regional stronghold of Confederate forces was in the southwest corner of Missouri, with Springfield the location
of the Confederate Command.
When retail clerk, Samuel K. Fowler, aged 19, crossed into Missouri from his home in Iowa, traveling to Springfield to enlist
in the 2nd Missouri in February of 1862, the regiment had already fought the Federals to a draw at Wilson's Creek, near Springfield
on August 10, 1861, and was about to do the same at Pea Ridge, just over the Arkansas border, on March 6-8, 1862. After Pea
Ridge, the Confederate Command was reorganized under the skillful tactician Earl Van Dorn, to whom Price and his men now reported.
Van Dorn's orders led the regiment across the state and down to Tupelo, Mississippi, to serve in the heart of the South. From
his first day under the Confederate flag, enlistee Samuel K. Fowler's life took on the aura of "charmed."
Crisscrossing the South, the 2~' Missouri saw action in every major battle of that area for the next three years-Iuka, Corinth,
Shiloh in 1862, Grand Gulf, Port Gibson, Vicksburg in 1863, and John Bell Hood's rambling Tennessee campaign, ending in the
Battle of Franidin in 1864. Rising to the rank of sergeant, and unhurt all this time, Fowler was captured at Vicksburg, paroled,
and exchanged, and was slightly wounded and again was captured at Franidin. After a brief stay in prison hospital, he remained
a prisoner for another few months before being exchanged in time to see action in the last Confederate engagements around
Mobile Bay. Fowler survived the War, returning to Missouri, where at some time he ran for the office of County Clerk of Knox
County, Missouri. It is not known whether he won election, but the fact that he ran indicates a rather well educated man.
So does the heart of this collection, Fowler's over-250 page diary. A keen observer of events and aware of the historic nature
of the national struggle, Fowler's extensive diary recorded the 2nd Missouri's actions in flowery, often exciting, prose.
For example, his record of the Siege of Vicksburg, in which he was a defender, brings to life those horrendous days for soldier
and civilian alike in a way that only one who had been there could describe. One factor that contributed to his charmed life
and to the consistency of the diary was the fact that he was assigned to a company (even when losses dictated the consolidation
of companies) that was inevitably, through the luck of the draw, kept in reserve of the main force. This meant that his company
was spared head-on attacks that took such toll of his fellow soldiers. Not that his company did not see action, but the main
force of the attack had already been absorbed when, and if, Fowler's company was thrown into the fray. This gave him time
to observe and record in
detail what he saw. Around the diary in this collection are a few telling letters, a few new clippings of the time and other
memorabilia that supplement the details of Fowler's remarkable army experience.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.