Civil War relics donated to Alabama state archives in 1914

Published 7:06 pm Tuesday, January 30, 2024

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The Battle of Peachtree Creek, near Atlanta, was the first in a series of bloody battles for Atlanta in 1864.  This was Confederate General John Bell Hood’s first battle as a commander and it did not go well for him or his troops.  The Confederate troop was trying to drive Sherman’s army from Atlanta but at the end of the day, General Bell lost around 2,500 men.  In 1914, the Messenger ran this story about two historical relics from this era.

Dianne Smith

Dianne Smith

The Alabama State Department of Archives and History has been presented by Mr. and Mrs. Edward Rowell Holt, with two relics of more than usual interest.  The first of these is a brick, taken by Mr. Holt himself, from the ruins of the building at old St. Stephens, in which the temporary Capitol of Alabama was located during territorial days at that point.  This relic is particularly prized, since there are comparatively few things treasured from the early days of our history.

The other relic is a canteen, which Mrs. Hold received from Mr. J. H. Cowart, of Troy, brother of Harrison B. Cowart, the original owner, who was killed at Peachtree Creek, near Atlanta, Ga., July 20, 1864.

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Mr. Cowart was a member of Co. A., 57th Alabama Infantry Regiment.  At the time of his death he was only 18 years of age.  He enlisted in the latter part of 1862, and served Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia, and was killed in the charge at Peachtree Creek on the date named.  The regiment was at first known as the 54th Infantry, but because of another command having that number, it was given a later number, and is known as the 57th Alabama Infantry.

The canteen is made of cedar.  On one side are the initials H. B. C., with the date, May 22, 1863, evidently the date it was received by its owner.  On that date the regiment bore its original designation, as appears from the number 65th regiment carved on the canteen.  It is an interesting coincidence that this day, July 20, 1914, is the 50th anniversary of the death of this gallant young soldier.  He was a member of the influential Cowart family, representatives of which are now in Pike County.

     All of these articles can be found in previous editions of The Troy Messenger.  Stay tuned for more.  Dianne Smith is the President of the Pike County Historical, Genealogical and Preservation Society.