A Convoluted Tale of Twists and Turns
Compiled by Dennis Ranney of the SCV and Joanie Jackson of the UDC
Everyone is identified with a name; be it a nickname, code name, moniker, etc. During the War Between the States (WBTS), the literacy rate for Union soldiers was approximately 90% and for Confederates, it was approximately 80%, which is remarkably high for a military population. In the general population (considering both whites and blacks of the time), the rate was considerably lower. Reading and writing variations were reflected in multiple spellings by the same family of the surname. Misspellings and “phonetically written – or write it like it sounds” is also obvious in soldiers’ letters to the home folks. The Compiled Military Service Records (CMSRs) reflect creative and unique spellings of names (most soldiers were identified by first and middle initials and last name on records). Compounded with the fact that many records were destroyed, lost, or never recorded, finding a soldier can be very much like the proverbial “needle in a haystack”.
Such is the case of Allen W. Cowart, also seen as Coward and A. W. Cowart/Coward. Not only was the name recorded in various spellings (the Cowart/Coward family themselves used various versions of the surname through history), the soldier’s regiment of service was sometimes misconstrued, partially due to the changing of units of service.
As seen in the bio below, Private Cowart/Coward’s name and regiment took some twists and turns during the war years. However, through diligent and expertise research, Dennis Ranney has compiled what is thought to be the most accurate accounting of this soldier’s life during the war.
413) Private Allen W. COWART - Inscription on tombstone #593 reads “A. W. COWART CO. B 45 ALA. REG. C.S.A.” He was taken prisoner during the Atlanta Campaign. (May 7 – September 2, 1864)
Approximate age of death at Camp Chase was 37 years old.
The 1850 United States census listed the family surname as Coward but the compiler believes it was spelled as Cowart. The census listed (Spelled as) Allen Coward, born about 1824 in South Carolina and noted his occupation as a farmer and living in the household of (Spelled as) Wachriah But corrected to Zachariah by an ancestry transcriber) Coward, born about 1790 in South Carolina and listed his occupation as a farmer and living with what appears to be his wife (Spelled as) Jame (But the compiler believes it was Jane Coward, born about 1795 in South Carolina. Other household members were: Thomas Coward, born about 1827 in South Carolina and George Coward, born about 1832 in South Carolina and Frances (A female) Coward, born about 1834 in South Carolina and (Spelled as) Puckey (A male) Coward, born about 1836 in South Carolina. The family household was living in the Southern District in Pickens County, Alabama and the census was enumerated on December 7, 1850.
According to the Alabama United States Marriage Index; 1800-1969 Allen W. Coward married Dorcus Johnson in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama on January 6, 1851.
The compiler notes Pickens and Tuscaloosa Counties in Alabama are adjacent and that Pickens County and the State of Mississippi are also adjacent.
The 1860 United States census listed the family surname as Coward but the compiler believes it was spelled as Cowart. Allen W. (Spelled as) Coward, born about 1826 in Alabama and noted his occupation as a farmer with a real estate value of $400.00 and a personal estate value of $500.00 and listed as the head of the household and living with his wife (Spelled as) Dorcas Coward, born about 1832 in Tennessee. Other household members were: Sarah A. Coward, born about 1854 in Alabama and (Spelled as) Jno G. (Corrected to middle initial Z by an ancestry transcriber) Coward, born about 1855 in Alabama and Mary E. Coward born about 1857 in Alabama and Marion B. Coward, born about 1859 and listed as ten months old. The family household was
living in the Corrs District in Pickens County, Alabama and the nearest Post Office was listed as Palmetto and census was enumerated on August 28, 1860.
The compiler notes there are a few twists and turns and errors noted with this soldier.
The inferences for the soldiers surname spelled as Cowart are a letter written to the Confederate Secretary of War James Seddon. The letter was addressed to James Seddon and written and signed by A. W. Cowart of Company B of the 40th Regiment Alabama Infantry. And the widow of the soldier died in 1882 in Alabama and claims to be the widow of A. W. and her surname on her tombstone is spelled as Cowart.
The compiler notes he is not listed on Alabama Muster Rolls 1861-1865.
The compiler notes the soldier had prior duty with Company I of the 7th Alabama Cavalry and will be noted.
According to the Soldiers and Sailors Database by the National Park Service Private A. W. Cowart served in Company I in the 7th Regiment Alabama Cavalry and noted an overview and the compiler has corrected mistakes and or additional information made with brackets.
“7th Cavalry Regiment was formed at Newborn, Alabama, during July, 1863, with companies were raised in the counties of Randolph, Shelby, Greene, Pickens, and Montgomery. For a year, the unit served in the Pollard area assigned to General Clanton's Brigade. In July, 1864, it contained 451 men, but was not serving as one command; two companies were with General Page, and eight rode with Colonel I. W. Patton. The 7th was later attached to B. M. Thomas', W. W. Allen's, and Bell's Brigade. It took part in the raid on Johnsonville and was engaged in the fighting as Hood moved toward Nashville. In April, 1865, it had less than 300 effectives and half that number surrendered at Gainesville, Alabama, in May. The field officers were Colonel Joseph Hodgson, [Joseph Hodgson Junior – Find A Grave Memorial # 109825191] and Lieutenant Colonels Turner Clanton, Jr.,  Henry J. Livingston, [Henry James Livingston – Find A Grave Memorial # 13517181] and F. C. Randolph. [Francis C. Randolph]”
A Company Muster roll within his Compiled Military Service Records stated Private (Spelled as) A. W. Cowart of Company I of the 7th Regiment Alabama Cavalry from September 1, to October 31, 1863 enlisted on July 1, 1863 at Carrollton, (Alabama) and enrolled for three years or war and noted as absent and under remarks stated on detached service order of Colonel (Joseph) Hodgson.
The compiler notes Carrollton, Alabama was located in Pickens County, Alabama.
The 12th Mississippi Cavalry also known as the 16th Confederate Cavalry had two companies from the State of Alabama. It was known in the field as Company D and these soldiers were chiefly from Pickens County, Alabama and Company A was from Sumter County, Alabama.
According to the Soldiers and Sailors Database by the National Park Service Private A. W. Cowart served in Company D in the 12th Mississippi Cavalry with an alternate name of J. W. Cowart and noted an overview and the compiler has corrected mistakes and or additional information made with brackets.
“The 12th Cavalry Regiment [also called 16th Confederate Cavalry] was organized during the summer of 1863. Many of the officers and men were members of the Mississippi state forces and some were from Louisiana. The unit was assigned to Richardson’s, Ferguson’s and C. G. Armistead’s Brigade, and fought in various conflicts in Mississippi and Alabama. Many were captured at Selma, but the unit was included in the surrender of the Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana. The field officers were Colonel C. G. Armistead, [Charles Gaines Armistead] Lieutenant Colonel Phillip B. Spence and Major William Yerger, Junior.”
Compiled Military Service Records stated on his cover page as Private A. W. Cowart of Company D of the 12th Mississippi Cavalry and noted the cards are filed with J. W. Cowart.
A Company Muster roll within his Compiled Military Service Records stated Private (Spelled as) J. W. Cowart of Company D Armistead’s Regiment of Cavalry* and dated June 5, 1864 had enlisted on July 1, 1863 in Carrollton, Alabama and enrolled by Johnston for the war and noted as absent and under remarks stated absent without leave in the 40th Alabama Regiment Infantry.
The above asterisk stated “This Company was organized October 1, 1863. By Special Order Number 100, Headquarters Demopolis, Alabama, dated April 9, 1864, it was assigned to Armistead’s Regiment of Cavalry, the designation of which was changed to the 12th Regiment Mississippi Cavalry by Special Order Number 69, Adjutant and Inspector General’s Office dated March 24, 1865.”
A Company Muster roll within his Compiled Military Service Records stated (Spelled as) A. W. Cowart of Company D Armistead’s Regiment of Cavalry for July and August 1864 had enlisted on July 1, 1863 in Carrollton, Alabama and enrolled for the war and pay due from enlistment and noted as absent and under remarks stated in 40th Alabama Regiment Infantry.
A Company Muster roll within his Compiled Military Service Records stated (Spelled as) A. W. Cowart of Company D Armistead’s Regiment of Cavalry for November and December 1864 had enlisted on July 1, 1863 in Carrollton, (Alabama) and enrolled for the war and duty status not reported and under remarks stated transferred to 40th Alabama Infantry.
In Confederate Letters it stated:
“Honorable Jas. A. Seddon, Secretary of War C.S.A.
A. W. Cowart Private, Co D Confederate Cavalry, Capt W. D. Deupree commanding in Mississippi Department commanded by Lieut. Genl. Polk asks to be exchanged for W. L. Lipsey Private Co B 40 Ala Inftry Baker’s Brigade Army of Tenn said Cowart wished to join Co B 40 Ala Inftry and W. L. Lipsey wishes to join said Co D Confederate Cavlry Capt Deupree’s commanding. Applicant wishes to exchange to be mutual. That it will be without expense to the Gov and the grounds of the exchange are that each has a brother in the company he desires to join. Said Cowart is not able to remount himself having lost his horse said W. L. Lipsey is able to mount himself and to keep himself well mounted.
Privt Co B Con Cavalry
Exchange approved neither arm of the service will be injured by the same April 23rd 1864
April 27th 1864
W. D. Deupree
Capt Co D Confederate Cavy
E. D. Willett
Capt Co B 40 Ala Infty
Stewarts Div ACT“
And in Confederate Letters it stated:
“Headquarters Baker’s Brigade August 13, 1864”
“Sir, When the within exchange was approved by Colonel (Thomas O) Stone commanding 40th Alabama and Colonel Armistead commanding 16th Alabama Cavalry, Captain Deupree commanding Company D of said 16th Alabama Cavalry sent said Coward to Company B 40th Alabama Infantry in April 1864 and said Coward has been in Company B since that time and is now in this department in detached service; (William L) Lipsey whose exchange is sought for said Coward is now here in Company B 40th Alabama, doing duty; I did not permit him to report to said Cavalry Company D 16th Alabama until the papers were regrettably approved, they then being in different departments. But now they are in the same departments and both Coward & Lipsey (W. L.) in Company B and I recommend that the exchange be approved and W. L. Lipsey Private Company B 40th Alabama ordered to report to the Colonel commanding 16th Alabama Cavalry for duty in exchange for said A. W. Coward now here of said Company D 16th Alabama Cavalry. Respectfully submitted (Elbert) D. Willett Captain commanding Company B 40th Alabama Infantry.”
Compiled Military Service Records located under miscellaneous under A. W. Cowart stated Private A. W. Cowart of Company D of the 16th Alabama Cavalry was transferred to Company B of the 40th Alabama Volunteers by Special Order Number 203/11 on August 27, 1864.
Company D of the 16th Alabama Cavalry was also known as the 12th Mississippi Cavalry
The compiler notes our A. W. Cowart was captured on July 22, 1864 at Covington, Georgia. His full name may have been Allen Williams Cowart but this man was reported killed at Resaca, Georgia in May of 1864 and buried at the Resaca Cemetery. Sometimes soldiers who were thought to be dead turned up at hospitals and when our A. W. Cowart was captured he was at a Confederate hospital at Covington, Georgia and the compiler notes the 40th Alabama Infantry was also at the Atlanta Campaign however no records can be located in the 40th Alabama Infantry as having a soldier named A. W. Cowart.
The compiler notes he is not listed with the work of Lillian Henderson when it comes to Georgia soldiers in the 40th Georgia Infantry nor should he be.
He only has Federal POW records and no enlistment records with the 40th Regiment Georgia Infantry.
When Private Allen W. Cowart of Company B of the 40th Alabama Infantry was taken prisoner at the Atlanta Campaign on July 22, 1864 at Covington, Georgia he had been in Baker’s Brigade in Clayton’s Division in Lee’s Corps with John Bell Hood as Commanding General of the Army of Tennessee.
(The compiler notes Baker’s Brigade was in Clayton’s Division as listed in the Confederate Order of Battle 2nd phase)
The compiler notes there was also a Confederate hospital at Stone Mountain, Georgia and Covington, Georgia is relatively near Stone Mountain, Georgia.
The compiler notes the report of General Kenner Garrard’s report to General Sherman on July 24, 1864 regarding his raid at Covington and Oxford, Georgia: GEN. GARRARD's REPORT.
HEADQUARTERS SECOND CAVALRY DIVISION, DECATUR, Georgia, on July 24, 1864.
“GENERAL: I have the honor to report that your instructions have been carried out. My dispositions were such as to enable me to take every point by surprise and insure my safe return, with a loss of only two killed.
Results: Three road bridges and one railroad bridge (555 feet in length) over the Yellow River, and one road and one railroad bridge (250 feet in length) over the Ulcofunhatchie, (Today it is known as the Alcovy River) were burned; six miles of railroad track between the rivers were well destroyed.
The depot and considerable quantity of Quartermasters' and commissary stores at Covington were burned. One train and locomotive captured at Conyers and burned; one train (platform) was burned at Covington, Georgia and a small train (baggage) at station near the Ulcofunchie, captured and burned; the engine to the last train was detached across the river. Citizens report a passenger train and a construction train, both with engines, cut off between Stone Mountain and Yellow River. Over 2,000 bales of cotton were burned.
A large new hospital at Covington, for the accommodation of 10,000 patients from this army and the Army of Virginia, composed of over thirty buildings, beside the offices just finished, were burned, together with a very large lot of fine carpenters' tools used in their erection.
In the town of Oxford, two miles north of Covington, and in Covington, were over 1,000 sick and wounded, in buildings used for hospitals.
The convalescents able to walk scattered through the woods while the firing was going on in town, and I did not have time to hunt them up before dark.
Those in hospital, together with their surgeons, were not disturbed.
Having received no reports from my brigade commanders, I am unable to give any further particulars.
Yesterday, at 12 M., I sent one brigade a little to the north, to come to this place by Blake's Mills. It has not yet arrived. From the two other brigades I have received 140 prisoners and 11 officers, and about 200 negroes, which have been sent to the Provost-Marshal Army Tennessee.
I cannot mention too highly the zeal and promptness of my whole command, and to their good conduct and earnestness I am indebted for this success.
Since leaving Marietta, the division has been so constantly in motion, it is now very much out of condition, and I would be pleased to have a few days' quiet, to shoe horses and repair equipments.
I was absent from Decatur less than three days, and as a division marched over ninety miles, and at the time of the receipt of the order, twelve hours before starting, was scattered from McAfee's Bridge to Decatur, guarding all the roads to the east and south of this flank of the army.
Also, a large lot of new hospital tents burned at Covington.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
K. GARRARD, Brigadier-General”.
The compiler notes in the book, Kate Cumming: A Journal of a Confederate Nurse, Kate Cummings tells of a different story concerning the raid on the hospitals at Covington, Georgia through others eyewitness accounts one of whom was Doctor Burt. Doctor Burt told of some patients and nurses running out of the hospitals when the alarm of Yankee raiders were arriving and being rounded up in nearby fields and woods.
Federal POW Records stated Private A. W. Cowart of Company B of the 40th Regiment “Alabama” Infantry appeared on a roll of prisoners of war captured by the 15th Army Corps and forwarded to the Provost Marshall
General Department of the Cumberland from May 9 to September 8, 1864 and noted his capture near Stone Mountain, Georgia on July 24, 1864 and forwarded on July 28, 1864.
Federal POW Records stated Private Allen W. Cowart of Company B of the 40th Regiment Georgia Infantry appeared on a roll of prisoners of war at Nashville, Tennessee captured by forces under Major General W. T. Sherman commanding Military Division of the Mississippi and forwarded to Captain (Stephen Edward) Jones A. D. C. (Aide-De-Camp) District of Kentucky at Louisville, Kentucky on August 2, 1864. Roll dated Headquarters Department Cumberland Office Provost Marshal General at Nashville, Tennessee on August 2, 1864 and noted captured at Covington, Georgia on July 22, 1864.
Federal POW Records stated Private Allen W. Cowart of Company B of the 40th Regiment Georgia Infantry appeared on a roll of prisoners of war received at the Military Prison in Louisville, Kentucky during the five days ending August 5, 1864. Roll dated Louisville, Kentucky on August 5, 1864 and had been sent to Louisville, Kentucky from Nashville, Tennessee by box cars on the Louisville & Nashville Railroad approximately a 180 mile trip and noted as captured at Covington, Georgia on July 22, 1864.
Federal POW Records stated Private Allen W. Cowart of Company B of the 40th Regiment Georgia Infantry appeared on a register of prisoners of war received at the Military Prison in Louisville, Kentucky and discharged to Camp Chase on August 3, 1864 and noted as captured at Covington, Georgia on July 22, 1864.
Federal POW Records stated Private Allen W. Cowart of Company B of the 40th Regiment Georgia Infantry appeared on a roll of prisoners of war received on August 3, 1864 at the Military Prison in Louisville, Kentucky and set to Louisville from Nashville and discharged to Camp Chase on August 3, 1864 and noted captured at Covington, Georgia on July 22, 1864.
Federal POW Records stated Private Allen W. Cowart of Company B of the 40th Regiment Georgia Infantry appeared on a roll of prisoners of war at Louisville, Kentucky and forwarded to Camp Chase, Ohio August 3, 1864. Roll dated Louisville, Kentucky on August 3, 1864 and noted as captured at Covington, Georgia on July 22, 1864.
Federal POW Records stated Private Allen W. Cowart of Company B of the 40th Regiment Georgia Infantry appeared on a descriptive roll of prisoners of war received on August 4, 1864 at Camp Chase, Ohio and had been sent from Louisville, Kentucky by order of Captain (Stephen Edward) Jones and noted as captured at Covington, Georgia on July 22, 1864.
Private A. W. Cowart was listed as being in barracks number nine in prison number two at Camp Chase.
The compiler notes the Confederate prisoner flow from the Atlanta Campaign to Camp Chase normally was taken along the Western & Atlantic Railroad to Chattanooga, Tennessee and then onward by rail to Nashville,
Tennessee. In Nashville the prisoners were usually taken to Louisville, Kentucky on the Louisville & Nashville Railroad a distance of about 180 miles. At Louisville, Kentucky the prisoners were held at the Louisville Military Prison a few blocks from the Ohio River. The prisoners were taken across the Ohio River on the Louisville & Jeffersonville Ferry where a train with box cars was waiting for the prisoners. Traveling across Indiana to Ohio the train would stop at the Columbus, Ohio depot and then marched four miles westward to Camp Chase.
Private Allen W. Cowart died approximately 128 days after arriving at Camp Chase, Ohio.
On December 10, 1864 at Washington, D.C., The Evening Union newspaper reported the following: “THE SNOW STORM” “ITS EXTENT TO THE NORTH AND EAST” “Philadelphia, December 10.- A snow storm commenced at one o’clock this morning, and ceased about daylight. New York, December 10.-A heavy northeast gale and snow has been prevailing here since two o’clock this morning. There is about two inches of snow on Broadway.”
And on Saturday, December 10, 1864 at far away Camp Chase, Ohio Federal POW records reported the death of Private A. W. Cowart of Company B of the 40th Regiment Georgia Infantry died due to cancrum oris. (The compiler notes this was a terrible and painful way to die)
The following disease contributed by Joanie Jackson; Retired DNP University of Tennessee at Chattanooga School of Nursing: Cancrum oris (noma) – fast-acting gangrene infection of the mucus membranes of the oral and facial tissue and bones of the same area. Classified as a “necrotizing ulcerative stomatitis”. Risk factors for contracting the disease are: malnutrition, poor oral hygiene, unsanitary environments (with exposure to animal/human feces), and pre-existing contagious diseases with fever (especially measles, malaria, and tuberculosis). Fatal if left untreated, the process causes much pain, deformity, and inability to speak, drink, and eat.
The compiler notes the so-called book of the Confederate dead which was kept during the war listed Private A. W. Cowart of Company B of the 40th Regiment Alabama Infantry and buried in grave number 593 and died on December 10, 1864. The compiler notes from prior research and witness’s from other Confederates when a soldier died at this time period the body was put into a pine box and with a piece of chalk the name and unit were written on top of the coffin. A wooden headboard was then made and placed after burial. If the body of a Confederate could sit up in his coffin he would be facing the Columbus skyline or facing east. The compiler notes the wooden headboard usually lasted about five years.
The next reference was a list of Confederate dead at Camp Chase compiled by the Adjutant General’s Department of Ohio 1866-1868 and on page one-eighteen listed A. W. Cowart Company B 40th Alabama Infantry buried in grave 593.
Sometime between 1868 and 1906 his Confederate unit would become the 45th Alabama Infantry.
The compiler notes the United Daughters of the Confederacy was founded in 1894 and that Mrs. Marcus Wade Crocker (Full name as Margaret Beatrice Harris Crocker was married on November 24, 1894 and died on June 1, 1974 and buried at the Green Lawn Cemetery) of the local UDC at Columbus, Ohio noted as the Honorary
President) listed him with the 45th Alabama after the war which is noted on his tombstone today. The compiler believes this was in error.
According to the 1850 and 1860 United State slave schedules no one under the surname spelling of Coward or Cowart owned slaves in Pickens County, Alabama.
The widow of A. W. Cowart; Dorcas Cowart died on March 21, 1882 and is buried at the Mount Zion Church Cemetery in Pickens County, Alabama. On her tombstone the surname is spelled as Cowart and a photograph of her marriage certificate listed her husband’s surname spelled as Coward.
The compiler notes she died before Confederate widows pensions were authorized by the State.
The compiler notes there were seven soldiers to die at Camp Chase from Pickens County, Alabama.
The compiler notes the tombstones at Camp Chase were made by the Blue Ridge Marble Company in Nelson, Georgia for 2.90 cents which included shipping and the majority installed in the Spring of 1908 including the one for A. W. Cowart. The tombstones were shipped to the Columbus, Ohio railroad depot and then delivered by horse and wagon to the Camp Chase Cemetery and installed by Mr. Marshal M. Smalley for a cost of .15 cents per tombstone per his contract.
If the compiler were making the tombstone it would read: “A. W. COWART CO. B 40 ALA. INF. C.S.A.”