29 May 2006

Pvt. George R. Dow-8th New Hampshire Volunteers

Memorial Day was originally created to honour the Civil War veterans, so this post is dedicated to my great-great grandfather's older brother, George Dow. He was the second son of Simon Dow, a shoemaker in Hampstead, NH, and was born in 1842. He enlisted in the 8th NH on 31 Dec. 1861, and his regiment was assigned to Gen. Bank's army in Louisiana. They were part of the campaign to cut the South off from the Mississippi by capturing Port Hudson, while Grant was trying to take Vicksburg. Dow's regiment was involved in a big assault on 27 May 1863 in which almost half of the attacking force was killed or wounded, including Dow. He died in Baton Rouge on 12 June 1863 at the age of 21, apparently from blood poisoning. According to family tradition, his mother nearly went mad with grief on hearing the news.

Unfortunately that is all we know of his story. He lingered in the Baton Rouge field hospital for two weeks, possibly undergoing some amputations before gangrene set in. We'll never know if he was an abolitionist, or a patriot, or just bored with the prospect of making shoes for the rest of his life. Did his parents know he enlisted, or did he go out drinking with friends and wake up in the camp?

On my last trip to New Orleans, I had to leave out of Baton Rouge, so I took the time to locate George Dow's grave site. Lord knows if he's had any visitors over the years. Wherever George is now, I doubt he's waiting in Baton Rouge, but I took time to brush the leaves off the grave, just to show that somebody dropped by.

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