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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

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

IIn most cases, the Boston Public Library does not hold the copyright to the items in our collections. In addition, we do not assert any additional restrictions on copies of items beyond those that might exist in the original.

As such, we cannot grant or deny permission to use copies of items held in our collections.

It is the sole responsibility of the user to make his or her own determination about what types of usage might be permissible under U.S. and international copyright law. Provision of a copy from the Boston Public Library should not be construed as explicit permission to use it for any particular reason.


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Biographical or Historical Information


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



This collection documents life in wartime Boston as well as a Union soldier’s experiences in battle. The letters of Samuel Bowdlear, a prominent Boston merchant, detail the social, political, and economic events in Boston and the surrounding areas, including the Union camp at Readville, Massachusetts. For example, the correspondence provides accounts of local elections, enlistment and troop movements, current prices, speeches and parades. The correspondence of Austin Wellington, a member of the 38th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers and former apprentice in Bowdlear’s flour company, describes his life in the army. Subjects in Wellington’s correspondence include the Siege of Port Hudson, and the Battles of Mansura, Opequan, and Cedar Creek, as well as camp life, and conditions in the Confederate States.

Arrangement Note

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.
Samuel G. Bowdlear and Austin C. Wellington Correspondence
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

About this library

Part of the Boston Public Library Archives & Special Collections Repository

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