Maj. Gen. John S. Bowen

Confederate Military History, Volume 9

By Col. John C. Moore
Edited by Gen. Clement A. Evans

Hurrah for Dixie!Major-General John S. Bowen was born in Georgia in 1829. He was appointed to the United States military academy in 1848 and on graduation was promoted to brevet second-lieutenant, July 1, 1853. Being assigned to the Mounted Rifles, he served at the Carlisle cavalry school, and on the frontier, with promotion to second-lieutenant on July 20, 1854. He resigned his commission on the 1st of May, 1856, and became an architect in Savannah, Ga., continuing to gratify his military tastes as lieu. tenant-colonel of Georgia militia. He removed to St. Louis, Mo., in 1857, where he also followed the business of an architect. From 1859 to 1861 he was captain in the Missouri militia. He was adjutant to General Frost during his expedition to the Kansas border in search of Montgomery, a prominent character in the Kansas troubles. When the civil war began he commanded the Second regiment of Frost's brigade. He was acting chief-of-staff to Frost when Camp Jackson was captured by General Lyon. Going to Memphis, Tenn., and into the southeastern part of Missouri, he raised the First Missouri regiment of infantry, of which he was commissioned colonel on June 11, 1861. He was assigned to the army of General Polk at Columbus, Ky., and acted as brigade commander under that officer's command. When in the spring of 1862 Albert Sidney Johnston and Beau. regard were concentrating their armies for an attack upon Grant, Bowen, who on March 14th had received his commission as brigadier-general, was assigned to the division of John C. Breckinridge. In the first day's battle at Shiloh he was wounded. General Beauregard, in his official report of the battle thus speaks: "Brig.-Gens. B. R. Johnson and Bowen, most meritorious officers, were also severely wounded in the first combat, but it is hoped will soon be able to return to duty with their brigades." When in 1863 Grant crossed the Mississippi and landed at Bruinsburg, General Bowen, though fearfully outnumbered, threw himself in his path and with the utmost courage and determination, resisted his advance. After a patriotic sacrifice he was forced back upon the main army under Pemberton. On the 25th of May he was rewarded for his brave work at Port Gibson by the commission of major-general in the army of the Confederate States. He fought with distinction in the other battles outside of Vicksburg, and in all the fighting and suffering of the long siege he and his men had their full share. At the fall of the city he was paroled, and went to Raymond, Miss., where he died from sickness contracted during the siege, July 16, 1863.

Gen. John S. Bowen home
Home of Gen. John S. Bowen as it appears today in the Carondelet neighborhood
of St. Louis, Missouri. 6727 Michigan Avenue. This was also the neighborhood where
Ulysses S. Grant once resided and sold firewood from a street cart. Photo by Scott Williams.

Composed in 1861 by Harry McCarthy, who wrote the popular Southern song, "Bonnie Blue Flag". "Missouri, Bright Land of the West", was naturally very popular among  the Missouri troops fighting for the South.  In fact, a hand written copy of the lyrics was retrieved from the pocket of Gen. John S. Bowen, by his wife, following his death after the fall of Vicksburg, MS. It is now in the collection of the State Historical Society of Missouri at Columbia. Midi Background tune, courtesy of Benjamin Tubb.


Song Lyrics:

Missouri! Missouri! bright land of the West!
Where the way worn emigrant always found rest,
Who gave to the farmer reward for his toil,
Expended in turning and breaking the soil.
Awake to the notes of the bugle and drum,
Awake from your slumber the tyrant hath come!

And swear by your honor your chains shall be riven,
And add your bright star to our flag of eleven.

They forced you to join in their unholy fight,
With fire and with sword, with power and with might.
´Gainst father and brother, and loved ones so near,
´Gainst women, and children, and all you hold dear;
They've o´er run your soil, insulted your press,
They´ve murdered your citizens—shown no redress—

So swear by your honor your chains shall be riven,
And add your bright star to our flag of eleven.

Missouri! Missouri! oh, where thy proud fame!
Free land of the west, thy once cherished name,
Now trod in the dust by a despot´s command,
Proclaiming his own tyrant law o´er the land;
Brave men of Missouri, strike without fear,
McCulloch, and Jackson, and Price are all near.

Then swear by your honor your chains shall be riven,
And add your bright star to our flag of eleven.

Copyright 1999, Sterling Price Camp, No. 145, Sons of Confederate Veterans, St. Louis, Mo.