Tuesday, July 12, 2011

July 13, 1861 (Saturday): The Intrepid Miss Bowman

Isaac Trimble, Bridge Burner and future Confederate General

                                    HEADQUARTERS FIRST DELAWARE REGIMENT,
                                                                        Havre de Grace, Md., July 13, 1861.
S. M. FELTON, Pres. P., W. & B. R. R., Philadelphai, Pa.;
   SIR: I beg leave to lay before you and the board of directors of the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad Company a communication from the officers of  Company D, of this regiment, which has for two months past been posted at the east end of the Bush River railroad bridge.  This letter was elicited by me from them, and is not known to Miss Bowman or any of her father’s family.  The highly remarkable conduct of Miss Bowman calls, in my opinion, for some substantial reward from your honorable board, and I doubt not that they will be as ready to give as I am pleased to suggest the same.  She is quite young, apparently not over 22 or 23, and really, for her station in life, quite an attractive young person.  I have found her modest and retiring, and this character is given to her by the officers.  I hope you will excuse me for troubling you with this matter, but I feel that I am only doing an act of justice to a worthy family by so doing.
    I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
                                                            HENRY H. LOCKWOOD,
                                                              Colonel First Delaware Regiment.
                                                            CAMP DARE, AT BUSH RIVER,
                                                                                    July 11, 1861.

    SIR:  As a part of the command stationed on the line of the Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore Railroad, we deem it but right and proper to make known to you the heroic conduct of the daughter of Mr. Bowman, the keeper of the bridge at this place, on the night of the burning of the bridge by Trimble and his men….
    When the train bearing the bridge-burners had crossed the bridge, and Trimble had drawn his men in line immediately in front of Mr. Bowman’s house, the object of their coming was announced in the hearing of Miss Jane by Trimble himself.  She pronounced him a coward, and in a loud voice called upon the men, who had been armed by the road and placed there to protect the bridge, to defend it, and when she saw these men throw away their arms, some of them taking to the woods and others hiding within her father’s house she called upon them again not to run, but to stand fast and show themselves to be men.  At the time, seeing one of the pistols lying upon the floor of the porch, which had been thrown away by one of the bridge-guards, she picked it up and ran with it.  Meeting Mr. Smith she gave it to him, saying at the same time, “Use it; if you will not, I will.”
   Another evidence of the wonderful courage and presence of mind of Miss Jane was shown in her anxiety for the safety of one of the men employed by her father to assist him in taking care of the bridge.  The man was on the draw at the time the firing of the bridge commenced.  Miss Jane was the first to think of him, and promptly called upon the father, or some one, to go for him in a boat, saying, “If no one else will go, I will.”
    In conclusion, permit us to say that such heroism in a young lady as shown in the conduct of Miss Bowman on this occasion has rarely been met with anywhere, and, in our opinion, should not be suffered to go unrewarded.
                                                                                    JAMES GREEN,
                                                            Captain Company D, First Delaware Volunteers.
                                                                                    E. J. SMITHERS,
                                                                                                First Lieutenant.

Official Records Series I., Vol. 2, Page 738

The incident described occurred in April of 1861 when Trimble enlisted a band of perhaps 150 men in Baltimore and moved out to try and burn railroad bridges bringing Union troops to D.C. through Maryland.  The 1st Delaware officers who drafted the letter later came to guard the bridge and heard of Miss Bowman’s courage.  Trimble’s men succeeded in burning the bridge after the scratch force guarding the bridge for the railroad company fled.

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