Digital Commonwealth

William A. Cowles Collection, 1834-1905

University of Massachusetts Boston, Joseph P. Healey Library

or
William A. Cowles, who was born in East Hartford, Connecticut, in 1834, served two tours of duty with the 42nd Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteers, during the Civil War. For the first tour, he served as a private for nine months from 1862-1863 in New Orleans, as a French Horn player in the regiment’s band. During the second tour, in 1864, he served as a corporal for 100 days. He married Josephine Lewis of Quincy in 1858, and eventually the couple had two daughters. The Cowles family later moved to Billerica, Massachusetts, where he died on September 15, 1905. This small collection consists primarily of Cowles’ journals that he kept while serving his first tour of duty in New Orleans during the Civil War. Also included are a ration book, a manuscript music book which shows the music played by the Regiment’s Band, miscellaneous service records, newspaper clippings, photographs, a printed history of the 42nd Regiment, and documents relating to the death of Cowles and his wife in 1905 and 1928 respectively. Included with this collection are Cowles’ war-time sewing kit and portable writing kit, a tuning fork, and various Civil War and post-Civil War patriotic badges.