August 25, 1864 — Army of the Potomac, VA
Patrick Fowler was born in Ireland in 1819, the son of Patrick and Catherine Fowler. Nothing is known of his childhood, but at the age of 26 he emigrated from Ireland to New York in search of destiny. After a couple of years his dreams of a new life in America were being fulfilled, but he found himself somewhat lonely and perhaps a bit homesick. A certain passenger on the ship VICTORIA from Limerick to New York, on August 23, 1850, would cheer him up. She was Bridget Fury, a blue-eyed, red-haired, freckle-faced, beauty who Patrick had known as a young lad, and whom he had vowed to later marry.
On July 20, 1852, in Kingston, New York, the two fulfilled their childhood dreams and were united in holy matrimony. They settled, like many other Irish immigrants, in the New Scotland area of Albany, New York, and on April 19, 1854, their first daughter, Catherine, was born. In the next seven years, three additional daughters were born. Jane, known as "Jennie", was born on February 10, 1855; Annie was born on May 20, 1857; and Sarah was born on February 22, 1861.
At 4:30 in the morning of April 12, 1861, Confederate General Beauregard's shore batteries, Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, opened fire on Fort Sumter- the first shots of the Civil War. As Washington prepared for the worst, the New Yorkers regiments arrived on April 25th. They were greeted with jubilation and the days of danger, of a Confederate assault, were gone. The Capitol was safe. As the war progressed, however, the Union experienced heavy losses at Bull Run, the Penisular, Antietam, Fredericksburgh and Chancellorsville.
In 1862, President Lincoln instituted a draft for Union soldiers. Patrick Fowler was working for a neighbor farmer in New Scotland. The farmer, a Mr. VanAtten was unable to join the Union Army during the draft, thus asked Patrick Fowler to stand in for him. So, Patrick Fowler entered Company A, 7th New York Heavy Artillery, originally the 113th Infantry, on August 11, 1862, in Albany, NY, and mustered on August 18, 1862. He was described as age 43, blue eyes, sandy hair, sandy complexion, 5' 11 3/4 ", farmer, from Ireland. Patrick Fowler and his comrades with uplifted right hands took an oath of true allegiance to the United States of America, swearing that they would "obey orders of the President of the United States" and of their officers.
The Regiment was ordered to move out on August 19th. During a ceremony on State Street hill, Albany, New York, the Regiment was presented with a simple, plain flag, the flag of the 113th Infantry. Patrick was charged $7.41 for transportation from Albany, NY, to Washington, D.C., where the Regiment was initially sent. The Regiment boarded the steam side-wheeler "Hendrick Hudson" and rested off the Jersey City landing the next day. Each man departed the ship and was given a shiny new Springfield rifled musket, 5 rounds of ammunition, with strict warnings not to load the weapons. In Jersey City the Regiment boarded a train, arriving in Camden, N.J., on August 21st. After a march to the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore train depot, they departed for Baltimore, Maryland. From Baltimore the Regiment again boarded a train to Washington, arriving there about midnight. Two days later the regiment discovered that they would become part of the Defenses of Washington, an enormous, expensive project, which included sixty-nine forts and sixty-three smaller batteries. During the fall of 1862, the Regiment continued artillery training until mid-December when they alone remained to man the forts.
Patrick Fowler was doing well, so well in fact, that he was appointed artificer on March 1, 1863. Throughout the summer and fall of 1863, the Regiment continued to improve fortifications. The 7th Heavy was to sit in Washington, D.C., for two years before seeing any action, or wishing to "see the Elephant."
By March 1864, the first indication appeared that the service of the 7th Heavy might not be permanent and orders were given requiring the regiment to obtain sufficient small arms ammunition, a minimum of 140 rounds per soldier. On Saturday, May 14th, 1864, the Regiment received orders to prepare for advancement to take the field. By May 15th, all the companies had assembled at Fort Reno, Washington, D.C., "armed, packed and ready." After a five mile march, the Regiment reached two small steamships, the Winona and the Planter. They traveled the Potomac River and arrived at Belle Plain, Virginia, the next morning joining the First Brigade, "Army of the Potomac." The First Brigade of the newly formed Fourth Division, would be led by Colonel Lewis O. Morris, who would have under him the 1st Maine Heavy and the 7th New York Heavy. Major Edward A. Springsteed would command the First Battalion of the Regiment.
The men of the 7th Heavy were stunned and disorganized by the suddenness and fury of the Confederate attack at Ream's Station. For most of the soldiers, with no further thought of resistance, each man faced a crucial choice: whether to stay or be taken captive. They were surrounded and would surely die if they did neither.
" "For most men, the choice was quick and clear. "A hasty stampede was made for the rear," wrote (Sergeant-Major Frederick) Lockley. "We passed Major Springsteed in our flight, lying on the ground, Co. A's cook holding the dying officer's head on his knee. 'Come Paddy,' one of the fugitives called him, 'you'll be gobbled.' 'I'll stay wid the ma-jor,' he replied, and allowed himself to be taken in with his commander." Both were captured a few moments later. Springsteed was to die before the day ended and his brave guardian, Patrick Fowler would... " "
-- "Carnival of Blood", by Robert Keating, 1998, Butternut & Blue.
Patrick was reported "Missing in action" at Reams Station, August 25, 1864. He had apparently suffered battle injury, was captured while guarding his mortally wounded Battalion Commander, and taken to the Confederate Prison at Salisbury, N.C. Corporal Erastus Garvey, who was also captured at Ream's Station on August 25, was another of the prisoners from the Seventh Heavy to be taken to Salisbury. He kept a personal journal in 1864 in which he described his trip: He was "sent by train through Petersburg to Richmond," where "they spent nearly six weeks." They were then "transferred by rail to Salisbury, arriving there on the tenth of October." Garvey would survive Salisbury Prison, being released on February 24, 1865, at Richmond, VA.
Life at Salisbury Prison was complete with disease and pestilence. If one didn't die from consumption, black fever, or diarrhea, then starvation killed. The prison was originally built to hold up to 1500 confederate deserters, but with the increase in demand for disposition of captured Union prisoners, the prison housed over 15,000 Union prisoners of war. In all, about 11,700 Union soldiers perished and were buried in 18 trenches inside the stockade of the Confederate Prison at Salisbury, NC, between 1864-1865.
Private Patrick Fowler died at Salisbury Prison on December 20, 1864. His body was never recovered. He died of disease and/or starvation, and is buried in one of the 18 trenches inside the stockade at Salisbury Prison. The list of "Prisoners of War, Roll of Honor or the Surgeon General's Office furnish no information."
Bridget Fury Fowler applied for a pension after the death of her husband, commencing on December 20, 1864, for $8 per month, plus $2 each month for each child commencing July 25, 1866. The Bureau of Pensions later "Submitted for rejection on the ground of claimant's neglect and apparent inability to furnish proof showing relationship, celibacy, date of husband's death, dependence and widowhood. Abandoned for over four years." Bridget Fury Fowler died September 10, 1889, in Albany, NY, from complications of alcoholism. Her children, two of who were reared by sons of Mr. VanAtten, grew to adulthood.
Jane (Jennie) Fowler was "taken in" by Teunis VanAtten and would marry Lewis Edinger on September 26, 1881 in Unionville , Albany, NY. They had four children including Alice Mae Edinger, who was the wife of Edmund C. Coughtry and the mother of Beatrice Coughtry Tryon.
Patrick Fowler was the great-grandfather of Beatrice Coughtry Tryon of Cobleskill, N.Y., and the 3great-grandfather of Neal and Samuel Lape, of Syracuse, N.Y.