The Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan has a collection of letters written by Stephen Lampman Lowing(69) during the Civil War.
Lowing, Stephen Lampman, 1817-1891.
Twenty letters (1861-1864, some original and some typescripts) written to his brother while he was serving as lieutenant and captain in Company I, 3rd Michigan Infantry.
He talks about camp life and his duties, especially as judge advocate; describes a battlefield, his quarters, and the running of a sawmill under enemy fire; praises Company I but criticizes officers in general, especially for drunkenness; complains of the manner of filling vacancies among officers. Home and business affairs are discussed. Lowing, from Georgetown, Mich., was wounded in action at Fair Oaks in 1862, but though somewhat crippled as a result, he did not resign until April, 1864.
In a related account of the battle he was wounded in:
HDQRS. THIRD DIVISION, HEINTZELMAN'S CORPS,
Intrenched Camp, near Savage's, June 2, 1862.
SIR: On the 31st ultimo, at 3 p.m., I received an order to send a brigade of my division by the railroad to support Keyes' corps, said to be severely engaged. Birney's brigade was designated, and getting most promptly under arms, advanced accordingly. Captain Hunt, aide to General Heintzelman, arriving from the field, made me aware of the discomfiture of most of Casey's division. The retiring wagons and a dense stream of disorganized fugitives arrived nearly simultaneously. As a precaution I ordered some picked Michigan marksmen and a regiment to proceed and occupy the dense woods bordering on the left of our position to take in flank any pursuers. I, however, soon received General Heintzelman's directions to order forward by the Williamsburg road the remaining brigade, and to retrieve the position the enemy had driven us from. I put myself at the head of the advanced regiment and set forward without delay. I also sent written orders for Jameson's
brigade, camped at the tete-de-pont near Bottom's Bridge (3 miles in rear), to come up without delay. This order met with General Heintzelman's approval.
On arriving at the field of battle we found certain zigzag rifle pits sheltering crowds of men and the enemy firing from abatis and timber in their front. General Casey remarked to me on coming up, "If you will regain our late camp the day will still be ours." I had but the Third Michigan up, but they moved forward with alacrity, dashing into the felled timber, and commenced a desperate but determined contest, heedless of the shell and ball which rained upon them. This regiment, the only one of Berry's brigade not engaged at Williamsburg, at the price of a severe loss, has nearly outvied all competitors. Its work this day was complete.
This regiment (Third Michigan) lost:
Officer killed--Capt. S. A. Judd, Company A.
Officers wounded---Col. S. G. Champlin; Capt. S. G. Lowing, Company I; First Lieut. G.
E. Judd, Company A; First Lieut. S. M. Pelton, Company C; First Lieut. G. W. Dodge,
Company F; First Lieut. A. J. Whitney, Company G; First Lieut. S. Brennan, Company I;
Second Lieut. D.C. Crawford, Company E; Second Lieut. Joseph Mason, Company
Total officers killed and wounded, 10.
Enlisted men killed, 31; wounded, 111; missing, 14.
Total loss, 166.(*)
This incarnation of the 1st RI first saw action in the battle of Rhode Island in August 1778. The Continental troops that fought in the battle (1st and 2nd RI; Sherburne's, Webb's and Jackson's and Livingston's) remained in RI for the winter of 1778-79. On October 25, 1779, the British evacuated Newport, RI.
All the Continental units in RI were ordered to march. However, at the last minute, the 1st Rl was told to stay in the state and guard the wharves and streets of Newport. The 1st RI remained home into 1780. In July of that year, Rochambeau arrived in Newpon with 4,000 French troops. An officer with Rocharnbeau, von Clausen, provides us with a description of one of the Black soldiers wearing a cast-off French waistcoat with long sleeves and red cuffs, as well as the waved helmet with bluish plumes.
In October of 1781, Congress reconstructed the army again. The 1st RI, the 2nd RI, and Sherburne's battalion were all merged into one regiment called the 1st Rhode Island. Greene maintained command, with subordinates Jeremiah Olney and Ebenezer Flagg. Sherburne, Isreal Angell and Ward were all forced to retire. The merger took place at West Point. Although authorized for 650 men, the actual strength was about 450 men.
In May of 1781 the 1st RI was stationed along the Croton River, north of Manhattan. On the 14th, a raiding party of Delancey's refugees surprised the Rhode Islanders at two points. To make the story shorter, Greene and Flagg were killed. Lt. Colonel Jeremiah Olney assumed command. Coggeshall Olney and John Dexter were promoted to major and made his subordinates. Though the official designation was still the 1st RI, it became known as Olney's battalion.
The 1st RI was one of the first to head south to Yorktown. It was brigaded with New Jersey troops under Colonel Dayton, and placed in Lincoln's division. Stephen Olney's light infantry detached from the regiment and were given to Lafayette's Division of Light Infantry. In February of 1782, the regiment numbered 31 offlcers and 413 men. The regiment was disbanded in November 1783 when Congress decided to consolidate all regiments with less than 500 men and the state refused to spend additional recruiting money.