1862-63: Charles Henry Howe ~ War Map & Journal

The Publishers Mark on The Historical War Map (1862)

Showcased here is the Historical War Map published by Asher & Company in 1862 and purchased by Pvt. Charles Henry Howe (1845-1864) of the 36th Massachusetts Volunteers. He used the map to chart the movements of the regiment and to keep a diary so that he could send it home to his parents after his first year of service. The initial journal entries are cryptic, noting little more than location and distance traveled by foot, boat, or train, which suggests he did not obtain the map until at least early June 1863. The latter entries are much more detailed and include some of his observations.

Charles H. Howe was born on 4 May 1845 in Lancaster, Massachusetts. He was the son of Ebenezer Wilson Howe (1817-1885) and Sarah Ann Blanchard (1823-Aft1900) of Clinton, Worcester, Massachusetts. He enlisted on 15 August 1862 at Clinton and served with the regiment steadfastly up until the day he was taken prisoner near Rutledge, Tennessee, on 15 December 1863. According to the regimental history, “while the regiment was encamped at Rutledge, East Tennessee, during the pursuit of Longstreet, after the siege of Knoxville, [Israel H.] Smith, with nine other members of the 36th, and a small detail of the 49th Pennsylvania, under charge of Sergeant Charles H. Boswell of the 36th, were ordered out on a foraging expedition, the regiment being greatly in need of subsistence supplies. While out for this purpose they took possession of an old mill about four miles from camp. the detail of the 36th was composed of Sergt. Boswell, Privates Daniel H. Park, Lucius A. Reynolds, Frederick Ruth, and Israel H. Smith of Co. C; Hezekiah Aldrich, Calvin Hubbard, and Patrick Gillespie, of Co. G, and Charles H. Howe of Co. I. These men were in the mill grinding corn, their rifles stacked in one corner, when, early in the morning of December 15, a boy came running into the mill saying the rebels were approaching. Smith glanced out the window and saw a squadron of men whom he supposed from their dress to be Federal Cavalry, but it afterwards appeared that their blue uniforms had been taken from one of our supply trains captured a day or two before. They numbered about 400 and immediately surrounding the mill, they demanded a surrender. Resistance being hopeless, our men…gave themselves up.”

The prisoners were sent to Andersonville Prison in Georgia where all of them died except Smith who survived and was paroled a year later. Charles Howe died on 27 August 1864 and was buried at Andersonville. Charles’ service card shows that he served in both Co. G, and I. On this map, he indicated he belonged to Co. G. In the regimental history, he is shown in Co. I.


A mosaic of scans revealing the diary on the back of the map kept by Pvt. Howe


  • Washington, September 2nd 1862
  • Leesboro 12 miles
  • Brookville, 10 m.
  • Damascus, 16 m. [17 September 1862]
  • Frederick  City, 16 miles
  • [Crossed the Catoctin mountains to] Middletown, 8 m. [19 September 1862]
  • [crossed] South Mountain, Boonsboro, 8 m.
  • Keedysville, 6 m.
  • Sharpsburg, 5 m.
  • Sharpsburg Camp, 3 m.
  • Antietam Iron Works, 3 m. [26 September 1862]
  • Elk Mountain, Pleasant Valley, 6 miles [7 October 1862]
  • Frederick town [smudged]
  • [Point of] Rocks & back to Pleasant Valley, 65 miles Went by cars.
  • Berlin, 6 miles [26 October 1862]
  • Crossed Potomac to Horettsville, Va., 4 miles
  • Waterford, 10 m. [29 October 1862]
  • Harmony, Goose Creek, Philemont, 14 m.
  • Ashby Farm or Widow Fletcher’s, 15 miles
  • Manassas Station or Rectortown, town near by, 14 m. [5 November 1862]
  • Orleans 20 m. First snow storm [6 November 1862]
  • Carter’s Run or “Hungry Hollow,” 7 m. [snowed 2 or 3 inches; short rations]
  • White Sulfur Springs, 8 m. [15 November 1862]
  • Warrentown Junction, 12 miles [Sunday, 16 November 1862]
  • Town name, not known, 10 miles, very severe march.
  • Persimmon Hollow, 12 miles
  • Falmouth, 16 miles, severe march, November 19th [a rainy, drizzly day, and march was wearisome]
  • Fight at Fredericksburg, 11th to 16th December
  • Left Falmouth February 10th, rode on cars to Aquia Creek 15 miles
  • Took transport [steamer South America] night of [February] 11th off the mouth of St. Mary’s river.
  • Night of [February] 12th, anchored off Fortress Monroe.
  • Arrived at Newport News morning [February] 13th, distance from Aquia Creek 187 miles.
  • Left March 22nd, took transports [steamers Kennebec and the Mary Washington] & arrived at Baltimore evening of 23rd, 200 miles.
  • Took cars on [March] 24th and arrived at Parkersburg [on the Ohio river] 26th. Distance of about 400 miles.
  • Took steamer [Bostonia] on Ohio river and arrived at Cincinnati night of [March] 27th, distance of 300 miles in 23 hours.
  • Crossed river into Covington, Ky. [March] 28th.
  • Lexington, Ky. on [March] 29th, 99 miles by cars. Camped there.
  • April 5th, left for Covington 99 miles. [Sent to Cincinnati to maintain order on election day]
  • Back to Lexington 99 miles. Arrived on the 7th of April.
  • March to Nicholasville on 8th. Distance of 12 m.
  • April 9, Camp Dick Robinson [near Bryantsville], 15 m.
  • April 30, Stanford via Lancaster, 18 m.
  • May 1, Hustonville, 10 m.
  • [May] 2, Middleburgh, 12 m. End of turnpike [on Green river].
  • [May] 4, moved camp 2 miles.
  • [May] 23, Liberty, 9 miles.
  • [May] 25, Neatsville, 14 miles.
  • [May] 26, Columbia, 13 m. in 5½ hours. No water on the march.
  • [May] 27th, scout to Gradyville, 12 miles.
  • [May] 29, to Breedingsville, 7 m.
  • [May] 30, Back to Columbia via another road, 16 miles.
  • June 1st, Jamestown [on Cumberland river] 20 miles. Marched all night. Arrived in morning of 2nd, just in time to stop a rebel cavalry force that had driven in our pickets.
  • [June] 4, Columbia, 20 miles.
  • [June] 5, Campbellsville, 21 m.
  • [June] 6, Lebanon. 19 m. 958 miles in 48 hours).
  • [June] 7, Cars to Louisville, 69 miles.
  • [June] 8, crossed Ohio river to Jeffersonville, Ind., took cars on Jeffersonville RR, changed cars at Seymour. Took O&M RR to Sandoval, Ill. (over)


Charles began his diary on right hand margin of the map

  • June 9, changed cars. Took cars on Ill. Central, reached Cairo, Ill. at midnight, distance from Jeffersonville nearly 400 miles.
  • [June] 10th, took steamer [Meteor], passed Island [No.] 10, reached Memphis 9 pm of 11th after passing Island 10, New Madrid, Mo., Hickman and Columbus, Ky., Forts Pillow & Randolph.
  • [June] 14, left Memphis, passed Helena, Ark., reached White river landing 15th.
  • [June] 16, Left White river, passed Napoleon, hauled up for night at Lake Providence, La.
  • June 17,  Left Lake Providence, arrived at mouth of Yazoo [river] 10 a.m., reached Snyder’s Bluff at m. From Ohio [river] to Yazoo river 592 m. From Yazoo mouth to Snyder’s Bluff 19 miles. Marched 4 miles and encamped near Milldale, Mississippi.
  • [June] 20th, moved 4 miles and encamped 9 miles in rear of Vicksburg. Heavy alarm and picket guard duty and large details for felling trees, digging rifle pits, throwing up parapets &c. until July 4th when Vicksburg fell. One hour afterwards, started to drive Johnston who had been threatening our rear. Marched 10 miles, heat and dust almost unbearable, no water to be found. Great thirst.
  • [July] 5, marched 5 miles and joined our brigade. Marched [crease in paper] Big Black river. Heavy showers all night. Picket firing across river all the time. River narrow but very swift. Considerable difficulty in throwing bridge across [the Black River at Birdsong’s Ferry]. Succeeded and crossed about noon of the 7th. Marched through swamps, cornfields, over hills and bayou (pronounced by the natives “Bi-o”). Heavy showers came upon us. So dark that one could not see his file leader but for the constant lightning. Finally encamped by the road and morning found regiments and Brigades terribly mixed up and considerably the worse for the severe ducking.
  • [July] 8, started in afternoon, marched slowly. In the evening, in crossing a bayou on a dilapidated bridge, the ranks were broken and caused considerable straggling. Regiment at last halted after a march of 8 or ten miles, with about 200 men but stragglers came in all night. On the march we passed Joe Davis’ plantation (Jeff’s brother Joe). Burn cotton gin and the whole plantation would have shared ditto had it not been discovered that his wife was the only person on the land and she a “good Union man.”
  • Next day, 9th, marched 10 miles. Burned all cotton on the way. All night mules and men died from the use of impure or poisoned water. One battery lost 10 horses.
  • 10th [July], Marched four miles and come up with the main body of Johnston’s forces. Skirmishers thrown out and at 4 p.m. Col. Bowman’s brigades skirmishers fired the first shots. At 10 p.m., we had driven them two miles through cornfields and woods and stacked arms and turned in ½ mile in the rear of Insane Asylum—at first supposed to be the State House, but afterwards found it over a mile from Jackson.
  • 11th [July], Fighting commenced at daybreak. At 10 a.m. we had driven them two miles more. Co’s A & F of the 36th were now sent out and the rebs were found in rifle pits. The companies were relieved at night by two more from the 36th., loss Co. F, 2 killed and a number wounded. Co. A, none.
  • 12th [July], heavy cannonading for 20 minutes and our division was relieved by another. Found camp in woods in rear of Asylum. Water very poor. Horses, mules, and men drink out of a rainwater pond. Again went to the front. One man in Company K wounded in two places by one shot. One more in Co. G slightly wounded over eye by fragment of shell.
  • id
    Charles H. Howe’s signature & regiment, Crab Orchard, Kentucky (2 September 1863)

    15th [July], still in front. Nothing of any importance happening.

  • Morning of 16th [July], relieved but encamped further back in the woods than before. About dusk the rebs throwed a number of 44 lb. shells plum into our camp. Upon examination, it was found they were filled with sand. Rumor that Jackson was evacuated by most of the rebs last night.
  • 17th [July], Jackson is found evacuated. They left in such haste as to leave sick and wounded and forgot to take down their colors which are now in the hands of the 35th Massachusetts. Orders came for us to start for Grant’s Ford near Canton on Pearl river. Marched 20 m.  Reported that our cavalry drove the rebels from Canton.
  • Marched in a southerly direction from Canton and struck the Mississippi Central R.R. about 3 miles above Tupelo Station, a march of 10 miles. Commenced destroying railway and followed the business until noon of the 19th [July] when we marched back to our camp at Jackson, distance of 12 miles in 4 hours. Heat intolerable. Great scarcity of very poor water.
  • [July] 20, started for Vicksburg, or rather Milldale. Marched 18 miles. Men fell out and died on the way.
  • [July] 21, crossed Big Black and encamped on opposite shore. 3 miles. Rained like big guns all night. As my blouse was at Milldale, not having brought it with me, I had to grin and bear it. Hungry as a horse.
  • [July] 22, reached Milldale, distance of 14 miles. Regiment could scarcely number 200 men. Stragglers and sick came in every day until the 4th of August when we started for Snyder’s Bluff.
  • 5th [August], took steamer [Hiawatha] and started for Cairo, Ill., which place we reached August 10. Ride of 612 miles. Took cars on Illinois Central R. R. about midnight. One of the drivers of the locomotive broke and we were detained till morning of the 11th when another locomotive was sent us. Soon reached Centralia, Ill. where hot coffee and refreshments awaited us. Generous citizens gave us quantities of apples and peaches. Soon reached Sandoval where we changed cars and started for Cincinnati via O & M R.R.
  • Reached Cincinnati after a ride by cars of ___ miles. Refreshments given us at the [5th Stret] Market House. Crossed the river to Covington, Ky., marched 2 miles to barracks Aug __. Took barracks and formed camp one mile from there. Rations begin to be abundant.
  • August [16th], marched to R.R. and took cars for Lexington. After a ride of 99 miles, arrived at Lexington.
  • August [17th], Rode to Nicholasville 12 miles and marched nearly to Camp Nelson, five miles. Men fell sick every day with fever and ague, typhoid fever &c. All are troubled with sores and boils which we call the Mississippi Plague. A few die.
  • Aug. 29, Marched to Crab Orchard and reached the place after a three days march of [  ] miles.
  • September 2nd 1863, — It being just a year ago today that I left home, I send you this map that you may see where we have been and what about. The map is small and many of the towns are not down yet. I have given you our general course. Many little incidents of interest I have omitted in this diary for you already have received them by letter. You will see that of all our camps, the Mississippi Campaign was the hardest. When the regiment reached this place, it stacked only 112 guns. Companies G & C came up next day and stacked 28 guns, making a total of 140 guns in the regiment. A large number of the sick joined us today but there are many more in the hospital and convalescent camps at Cairo, Camp Dennison, Louisville, Cincinnati, Covington, and Nicholasville. Some have been in the hospital at Washington and Alexandria more than 6 months and probably never more to join us again if it can be [helped]. Some men have deserted and some discharged. The line officers to do not have enough men for a company. A number are sick, some have resigned and left us. Our Colonel [Bowman], Lt. Col. [Norton], and an assist. surgeon have resigned and the 36th is now commanded by a Major [Goodell]. All the time from our leaving Milldale to our return, we lived on less than quarter rations. Water was very scarce and poor and warm at that. The rebels drove sick horses and mules into nearly all the pond holes and then let them die. Many of the cisterns were poisoned. Wells are uncommon things in Mississippi. I do not complain of these hardships for I have stood it well and am as strong as a brick (we we sometimes say). Very thankful that I am back in Old Kentuck which is a pretty healthy state. But the weather is pretty cool now and the nights are uncomfortably cold. Rations are now plenty and if they will give the Old 9th Corps a rest of a month or some more, we will be about ready for another campaign which will probably be in Tennessee or Georgia or Alabama—I do not know which or care much, but hope it will not use up the corps as  the last campaign. — Charles H. Howe

This map may wear out and you will thus lose this diary. Therefore, I will copy it with ink on good paper so that when I write you of any more, you can add it to the list already very long. The map is small but you can follow our general course by the ink marks I have made. Yours affectionately, — Charles H. Howe, Co. G, 36th M.V.


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