Descendants of Civil War Union Army Lt. Carlos Rowe, who fought with the Bemis Heights Regiment, have donated Rowe’s blue tunic, his sword, and a quantity of military records to the New York State Military Museum.
Richard Mandle of Canton, Mich., started gathering the materials several years ago from various family members, said Michael Aikey, director of the state Military Museum and Veterans Research Center at 61 Lake Ave. in Saratoga Springs.
“We started with them a year ago. They were looking for a home for their collection,” Aikey said. “The collection was spread out among the family.”
The materials, including an officer’s frock coat with nine brass buttons and Rowe’s sword, will become part of a much larger display on the Civil War that is currently being planned at the museum.
Rowe, who was born in 1835 and died in 1927, was quartermaster for Company I of the 77th Regiment New York Volunteers, often called the Bemis Heights Regiment.
He was from Keeseville in the Adirondacks, which was somewhat unusual because many of the 77th Regiment men came from Saratoga County.
This regiment was organized at Saratoga Springs, and there, on Nov. 23, 1861, mustered into the service of the United States for three years.
The companies were recruited principally in Saratoga Springs, Wilton, Charlton, Ballston, and Gloversville. But there were also companies from Keeseville and Westport, according to the regimental history on file at the military museum and on its website.
Aikey said because Rowe was a quartermaster for the company he kept all the records, including attendance rolls and records on equipment and weapons.
“It is unusual to have so many records at the company level,” Aikey said. An infantry company in the Civil War was usually about 100 men, but many companies averaged half that many, depending on the circumstances and battle losses.
“They could have sold it and made a lot of money,” Aikey said about the Carlos Rowe collection. “But it was more important for the family to honor the history rather than cash in on this.”
James Gandy, librarian at the military museum, said the 77th Regiment was in some major Civil War battles, including Antietam, Spottsylvania, Cold Harbor, The Wilderness and Petersburg.
He has scanned some 150 different items from the Rowe collection into the military museum’s electronic archives. These materials are not yet up on the museum website, but will be posted within the next month.
Gandy said he found the most interesting items to be reunion newsletters. Most Civil War regiments held a reunion each year and then published a written report on it. One of these newsletters is “very rare,” Gandy said. “That one I couldn’t find anywhere else,” he said.