Named for his father, Samuel Bowens was born on March 5, 1838, in what was then Frederick County in Maryland as a free man. It’s not clear what took this farmer to Boston in February of 1864, but it was there that he enlisted in the US Army. Private Bowens joined the 5th Regiment of the Massachusetts Cavalry (Colored). Despite the name, the regiment was dismounted. Like other exclusively colored regiments of the US Army, all of the officers were white men.
Private Bowens participated in the defense of Washington and later guarding prisoners at Point Lookout in Maryland. He deployed with the 5th Massachusetts to Texas, to defend the border. They redeployed to Boston, where the regiment disbanded.
Mr. Bowens returned to Carroll County, where he worked in the local tannery. He participated in the Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternal organization for US Army Veterans. His obituary states that he was a member of the Burns post, but this is likely in error. While the GAR was not a segregated organization, many posts were, and such was the case here in Carroll County. Private Bowens most likely was a member of the Thaddeus Stevens post in New Windsor, which was a Black post.
He married Eliza Jane Sanders, and they had at least three children.
Mr. Bowens died on April 19, 1905 and is buried in Ellsworth Cemetery, near Westminster, Maryland.
His daughter, Mary Morgan, and her husband, William, are also buried in Ellsworth.
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