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Samuel G. Bowdlear and Austin C. Wellington Correspondence

 Collection — Container: MS 3929
Call Number: MS 3929

Scope and Contents

The correspondence in this collection dates from 1862 to 1865 and contains 106 letters between Samuel Bowdlear and Austin Wellington – 27 from Wellington and 79 from Bowdlear. Samuel Bowdlear’s correspondence documents life in Boston, Massachusetts during the Civil War, such as local sentiment in Boston regarding both national events and local news. The correspondence also provides a picture of the geography of the city during that time, as the letters describe the locations of businesses, meeting halls, fires, and locations of parades and processions. Bowdlear also kept Wellington updated on troop movements, battles, local elections, and draft riots in Boston.

In turn, the letters from Austin Wellington document his experiences during the Seige of Port Hudson, skirmishes in Louisiana, and battles in Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia. Wellington describes camp life, travel, illness, and interactions with enemy soldiers. The letters also illustrate his first encounters with plantations and slavery, African American troops, and the living conditions of Southern men and women.


  • 1862-1865


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Items in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. In most cases, the Boston Public Library does not hold the copyright to the items in our collections. It is the sole responsibility of the user to make their own determination about what types of usage might be permissible under U.S. and international copyright law.

Biographical / Historical


1813 - Bowdlear born in Boston, Massachusetts.

1840 - Wellington born in Lexington, Massachusetts.

1856-1862 - Wellington serves as apprentice at Bowdlear & Green, Flour Merchants.

1862-1865 - Bowdlear begins correspondence with Wellington.

1862 - Wellington leaves Boston with the 38th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers.

1863 - Wellington is promoted to Sergeant. Fights in a battle near Camp Opelousas, Louisiana. Participates in the siege and surrender of Port Hudson, Louisiana. Receives promotion to Second Lieutenant.

1864 - Moves with regiment to Alexandria, Virginia. Is commissioned to First Lieutenant.

1865 - Marches with General Sheridan to Savannah. Returns to Massachusetts and is mustered out of service.

1872 - Bowdlear dies in Boston.

1888 - Wellington dies in Cambridge.


106.00 Items

Language of Materials



Arranged chronologically.

Source of Acquisition

B. & L. Rootenberg Fine and Rare Books

Method of Acquisition


Related Materials

20th Regiment Collection

Babcock, William C., MS 3269

Banks, N.P., General, MS 1873

Bond, Selina, MS 483

Boston. Recruiting Committee of Ward 9, MS 2131

Massachusetts. Superintendent of Recruiting, 1864. MS 3880

Hunt, Samuel Everett. Letters, MS 3311

Correspondence regarding Southern citizens and African American troops,  MS 1476

Barrows, William A., MS 3286

Dean, Joseph F., MS 551

City Plans Index (1850-1895)

Horace Killam Correspondence, MS 3967

Ropes, Henry - Civil War letters, MS 20th Cab. 7.2, vol.1

Processing Information

Finding aid written by Laura Hoff, November 2009.

Processing Information

This electronic finding aid is transcribed from legacy data. In many cases, transcriptions were not verified against collection materials at the time of transcription. As a result, this finding aid could be incomplete and might only reflect a partial understanding of the material.

Statement on harmful description

Archival description reflects the biases of time periods and cultures in which it was created and may include direct quotations or descriptions that use inappropriate or harmful language. Creator provided descriptions may be maintained in order to preserve the context in which the collection was created and/or used. Legacy description and potentially offensive content may be made available online until a collection can be reprocessed because the access that they provide to primary source materials is uniquely valuable to the research community at large. Our efforts to repair outdated descriptions and to describe our collections more equitably are iterative and ongoing.

Samuel G. Bowdlear and Austin C. Wellington Correspondence
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