Lieutenant Dudley H. Cowles
Was born in Erie Pa., the oldest son of Mr. Allen E. H. Cowles. Early in his life, his parents, to improve their fortune, emigrated to Fulton, Whiteside Co., Illinois. Not enjoying the educational facilities for their children which they wished, in that place, after a few years residence, they removed to Beloit, Wisconsin. Here the native energy of character, & activity of mind which he had evinced, as a boy, coming up into his teens, found a congenial field for development. He soon conceived the purpose of acquiring a liberal education & of becoming a graduate of the College. To this end, he bent his energies, & directed his studies preparatory to entering College. But after acquiring a good academic education, as his parents possessed but limited means to assist him, he was persuaded to relinquish his purpose of acquiring a classic education, for some other calling, such as he should choose. By the advice of friends, he made up his mind to learn the printers trade, as the most congenial field for his tastes, inclinations & habits. With this objection in view, he obtained a situation in the office of Mr. J. C. Fletcher of Dubuque, where he made his first efforts as a typo. With a natural aptness for his trade, uprightness & integrity of deportment, he soon secured the friendship of his associates, & the confidence of his employer. Though now pasing [sic] thro' the age when young men commonly "sow their wild oats," he evinced, that he was not cursed with any of that kind of seed, the fruits of which, too often crush a parents heart, & wither ever aspiring hope of virtuous friends, & respected relatives. His ever, onward course, was a bud of bright hope, & promise for his future. By too close application, he impaired his health, & as his employer sold out his establishment about this time, Dudley returned to his father's, & wrought on his farm a few months to recuperate his constitution. This had the effect to restore him to his natural physical vigor. In the mean time, Mr Fletcher established himself in Sparta, Illinois, & invited him to his office again. Here he remained, [assistuous?] in his duties, till April 1861, when our country was imperiled, & our government was in danger, by the frenzied politicians in the South; imflated with a vast sense of their importance, & consequently, to maintain pure, & incorrupt, republican institutions, & transmit them to posterity, & who, in the plenitude of their wisdom, & exuberance of their sagacity, sagely supposed the North would not ------ fight!!
Like our aspiring, virtuous youth, young Cowles had consecrated himself on the alter of his country, to serve it in the broad & promising field of journalism - that field was fair, & beautiful to his eye, & gratified all the earthly aspirations of his heart. One year of apprenticeship, only, remained to him, before he could go out & establish himself as an editor, & begin to act the part of a public man, & benefactor to the nation. The firing upon Fort Sumpter [sic], in Charleston Harbor, cast a pall of darkness over all these sunny prospects, just within his grasp, before him. President Lincoln issued his proclamation for 75,000 volunteers. Much as Dudley's heart was set upon his chosen object of life, & flattering & bright were his prospects, he did not hesitate. The object now was, his country, & government, or death. He cheerfully relinquished, for the time being, his honored object, as a life-work, & enlisted for his country's good, in the 22d Regt, Illinois Volunteers; what the effect of camp-life would be to his rather delicate constitution, he left to a kind Providence - his friends feared for his welfare, & some of them thought he was rash in rushing to arms so early, when there were abundance of robust young men to fill the ranks, at the first call. But he had no doubt with regard to his duty at the great sacrifice it was, to all his cherished plans of life. Here it may be said, once for all, the plain fare, & exposures of military life, rejuvenated his system. He became fleshy, tho' perfectly temperate, & was not in the hospital an hour to the day of his death. The Reg't in which he enlisted, soon recd its complement, & with others, was under the command of Gen. Grant when he seized upon Paducha. The first regular battle that young Cowles was in, was at Belmont, when Gen Grant crossed over the river, & broke up the rebel camp, which was preparing for an onslaught upon Misouri [sic]. The description which he gave of the battle, & then of their having to cut their way thro' the rebs, who were sent to cut off their return to their transports, was thrilling. Several balls cut his garments, but left his flesh unscathed. For some cause, either because they were so plucky, or some other cause, the 2d Illinois gained the value of "The Fighting Reg." Hence, they were kept in the advance, & sent out as skermishers [sic]. The writer has not the means to mention all the battles he was in; so it must suffice to say, he was in seventeen set battles, aside from all his exposures in skirmishes. He was in Gen. Grants command in all the battles from Belmont down to Pittsburg Landing, Farmington, Corinth, & that region. In the fall of 1862, none of his friends heard from him for four months, & they concluded that he had fallen a victim of the good of his country. But in Dec 1862, six days before the battle of Murphresboro [sic], he turned up in Nashville, Tenn. In a hurried note he wrote his uncle, Rev S. Cowles, he states, "We have been stationed where, for 4 months, I have heard nothing from the outside world, till yesterday, we arrived in this city, where I find a large package of letters to be answered. My life has often been in peril - my clothes & cap often cut with bullets, but none has grazed my flesh. Hitherto my heavenly Father has protected me, & I trust will do the same, till these wretched rebels are all cut off, & peace restored. We are under waiting orders, & may be called to march at any hour." Six days after this date, the first day of the battle in Murphresboro, he was struck by a ball in his left breast, which came out in his right, inflicting a dangerous wound, but not mortal, if he could have quiet, & care taken of him. But he was taken prisoner, & forced to march eleven miles, if I am informed correctly, & then trundled in an open car over a miserably rough road, to Montgomery, Ala. where he sunk down, & died on the 20th of Jan'y, 1863. The account of his death, which a fellow-prisoner, a friend of his gave, was that of a calm, triumphant Christian, sinking away in peace, in the hands of his enemies, far removed from father or mother, brother or sister. Thus his young life closed at the age of 22 years, & his earthly hopes & aspirations all perished.
What I have written about my nephew, has been from my memory, as unfortunately, I either lost the letters which I obtained from his father, on my visit homeward, or they were so mislad here at home, I have been unable to find them. The statments I have made however I know to be correct. If you have any thing to add to it, you are at liberty so to do.
our regards to Mrs Emmerson [sic],