1863: Sgt. William E. Rowe or Sgt. Moses T. Rowe to Elizabeth Rowe


Moses T. Rowe, courtesy of Ross County Historical Society

The content of this letter leads us to conclude that it was written by a member of the 73rd Ohio Infantry while encamped near Chattanooga, Tennessee, just days before the Battle of Missionary Ridge in which they participated. The letter is simply signed “Rowe” and was written either by William E. Rowe or his younger brother Moses T. Rowe of Concord, Fayette county, Ohio. One or the other wrote the letter to their older sister, Elizabeth (“Lib”) Rowe (1825-1870). They were all the children of Jesse Bascom Rowe (1804-1881) and Sarah Morris (1804-1867).

William and his brother Moses enlisted in the 73rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry as musicians and served as a stretcher bearers early in the war. Later both of them were promoted to sergeants, William being promoted and transferred from Co. G to Co. E, Moses remaining in Co. G.

In the fight in Lookout Valley the conduct of the regiment called forth praise and especial notice, Gen. Grant, in his official despatches, naming it “one of the most daring feats of arms of the war.” In this action the regiment lost 65 men and officers out of 200. Encamping near the scene of its brilliant exploit, the regiment was occupied by picket duty and building earthworks until Nov. 22, when it crossed the river and was engaged in the battle of Missionary ridge.



Chattanooga [Tennessee]
November 11th 1863

Dear Sister Lib,

I received your welcome letter of the 4th tonight and was sorry to hear of Father being sick & hope he will get no worse. I told Mrs. McFarland to tell you to send me $5.00 but if you have not sent it, you need not as we are looking for our pay every day. The paymaster is here and has paid the 2nd Ohio off.

You want to know what we get to eat. Well we are now getting full rations but it is true we have been getting very little to eat. I think anybody that would write it home has not common horse sense. We are likely to get full rations as the boats are running and we have possession of the short road since the fight our men had the night of the 28th [Battle of Wauhatchie]. I wrote you a long letter after the fight which I expect you have got since you wrote the one I got today.

I got the Herald of the 4th and a letter from Mattie. Keep on sending the Heralds.

I was on picket last Saturday and Sunday at the foot of Lookout Mountain. We was about 150 rods from the Rebel pickets. The Rebs were throwing shells over our heads into town all day and in the evening the 18th Ohio Battery opened on them and they threw their shells over us too. I was afraid of one bursting over our heads and some of the fragments coming down on my pate. They (the Rebs) threw a shell at us as we was going to relieve the old pickets but it did no damage. Our men then took to relieving the old pickets at night so the Rebs can not see us coming now.

We have been getting plenty to eat considering the condition of the roads. Whoever wrote that home only wanted to gas a little on his hardships — the poor little fool. I never went to bed hungry since we came here.

Well, Lib, I guess I will close as it is most bed time. I send my love to all. Tell me how father is in your next letter. From your affectionate brother, — Rowe

P. S. I don’t know how much pay I will get as I am looking for the Clothing Bill to come out. We are allowed 42 dollars a year for clothing and all we draw over is taken out. My bill is larger since I had my knapsack stolen. Of course I had to draw more or do without. I will send as much as I can though I don’t need much money out here as there is nothing to buy unless it is paper or suspenders or something of that sort. Write soon. — Rowe



  1. Moses Rowe is my third-great-uncle! (He definitely looks like a Rowe – I have a photo of his son, and there is a strong resemblance.) I’m writing about Moses and his father Jesse Rowe this month. Thank you for sharing the letter and transcription.


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