Sgt. Jonathan P. STOWE
Enlisted in Co. G, 15th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry on 12 July 1861. He was 29, a resident of Grafton, and a farmer. He was listed among
the missing after Ball's Bluff on 21 Oct 1861. He returned to the regiment and later
fought at Antietam. He recounts the aftermath here.......
(Contributed by Rich Perra from: "The Civil War Years: A Day by Day Chronicle Of The
Life Of A Nation", Edward E. Denney ; p. 214-219
Sterling Publishing Co., New York, N. Y. Rich notes that Denny acknowledges the Eldon
"Josh" Billings Diary Collection, which is found in the Virginia Tech library.
Does anyone know where Jonathan Stowe is
Diary Entries Sept. 17, 1862 - Sept. 29, 1862
Sept. 17 (Weds.)
Battle, Oh horrid battle. What sights I have seen. I am wounded! And am
afraid shall be again as shells fly past me every few seconds carrying
away limbs from the trees...... Am in severe pain. How the shells fly. I
do sincerely hope I shall not be wounded again.
Sept. 18 (Thurs.)
Misery. Acute, painful misery. How I suffered last night. It was the
most painful of anything have experienced. My leg must be broken for I
can not help myself scarcely any. I remember talking and groaning all
night. Many died in calling for help..... Sergt. Johnson, who lies on
the other side of the log is calling for water. Carried off the field at
10 AM by the Rebs who show much kindness but devote much time to
plundering the dead bodies of our men..... Water very short. We suffer
Sept. 19 (Fri.)
Rained only a little. I had a rubber blanket & overcoat. Rebs retreat.
Another painful night. Oh good God, a whole line of our skirmishers are
coming.... There are lots of us here lain out.... By and by our boys
come along. What lots of the 15th. Captain comes down to get the names
and has coffee furnished us- Twas the best cup I ever tasted. Dr. looks
at my wound and calls it a doubtful case. Get me on ambulance at 3 PM
but do not get to the hospital till nearly dark. Plenty of water which
gives us a chance to take down inflammation. Nurses worn out by fatigue.
Placed on straw near the barn.
Sept. 20th (Sat.)
Fearful it will rain. How cheerful the boys appear. Many must lose their
arms or legs but they do not murmur.... Leg amputated about noon. What
sensations- used chloroform. Hope to have no bad effects. There are some
dozen or more stumps near me. Placed in barn beside J. Hughes.
Sept. 21st (Sun.)
Very weak and sore..... Hot weather by day cool at night. Hard to get
nurses. Men come in and stare at us but detailed men clear out & leave
us. How pitiously do they beg for water. People come in from all parts
of the country. Stare at us but do not find time to do anything.
Sept. 22nd (Mon.)
Two men died last night..... How painful my stump is. I did not know (I)
was capable of enduring so much pain. How very meager are
accommodations- no chamber pots & nobody to find or rig up one. How
ludicrous for 2 score amputated men to help themselves with diarrhea.
Sept 23rd (Tues.)
Oh what long fearful horrid nights. What difficulties we have to
contend..... Relief can hardly be found. I have at length got my limb
dressed by volunteer surgeon. But never was so nearly exhausted for want
Sept. 25th (Thurs.)
Such nights! Why they seem infinitely longer than days. The nervous
pains are killing two or three every night. All sorts of groans and
pleadings..... Many patients are leaving daily. Some have gone today to
H. Ferry. I watch over J. Hughes nightly. Has had fever. Very cold last
night & we are very short for clothing. Sundown just rec'd blankets and
Very cold last night. J. Hughes had shakes again last night..... The
cold weather may all come for best, certainly maggots do not trouble so
much and air is some purer. 4 PM, J. Hughes died..... O there comes Mrs.
Gray with refreshments. Such a treat..... I got tomatoes..... just what
I wanted. Have since forgotten my stump first hemorrage- it was very
copious and tho I had stoutly affirmed that I would not use Brandy, was
now plainly told that if not I should be dead in 3 days.
Sept. 27th (Sat)
Commence taking Brandy none too soon. Dr. tells me I am dangerously ill
and must take his prescription in order to change condition of blood. He
is earnest & too good a man. Mr. L. Sloan a kind hearted chaplain
telegraphs for me. Suffer continuously from position in bed. Have to
elevate my stump to prevent bleeding and be very still.
Sept. 28th (Sun.)
Oh what lengths to the nights. The horrid smell from mortifying limbs is
nearly as bad as the whole we have to contend. Mrs. Lee and another lady
are here daily dispensing cooked broths...... They seem to employ their
whole time for us. Move outdoors in the PM. Excessively hot.
Sept 29th (Mon.)
Slept little more comfortable last night. Got nice soups and nice light
biscuit and tart also nice butter from Mrs. Lee. Also she gets me milk
again this morning. How the quinine keeps me parched for water and so
sleepy and foolish. Am much better off here than in barn. 10 AM my
comrade died from 18th Minn. Regt. I recd 4 letters from friends or home
but am so boozy it takes the whole AM to read them. Mr. Dr. Kelsey
dressed my stump admirably and am quite comfortable if the quinine does
not choke me to death. It is far more quiet here but begins to rain.
At 7:54 that evening, Stowe sent a telegram to J. W. Stowe as follows:
"Dangerously wounded at Hoffmans hospital near Sharpsburg. Come
It was too late. Jonathan Stowe died on October 1 from his wound and
amputation. He had lain on the battle field for a day without food or
water and was then taken to the Nicodemus farm by Confederates where he
stayed another day without medical treatment. The cumulative effects
were too much. He was 30 years old.
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