Pvt Wallace Bowling

Pvt Bowling Photo
Pvt William Wallace Bowling

Co. A, 1st Batt
Maryland Infantry

William Wallace Bowling was the oldest of four children born to Anne Locke and Charles Bowling of St. Mary's county, Maryland. Wallace, his sister Mary Jane, and his brothers Frank and Ben were raised on the west side of St. Clements Bay in the area known as Milestown.

The advent of the War Between the States found Wallace, Frank and Ben in their twenties. In 1862, they said goodbye to their mother, father, and sister and skipped across the Potomac to Virginia. On 25 August, 1862, the three Bowling brothers enlisted in Company A of the 1st Battalion Maryland Infantry. (This change was made to prevent confusion, for there had already been a 1st Regiment Maryland Infantry.)

Their first serious engagement with the enemy was at Winchester, Virginia. After defeating Union forces there, General Lee's Army of Northern Virginia moved northward, and in June, 1863 the three brothers crossed into their native state. They did not stay on Maryland soil for long, however, because the army quickly pressed northward into Pennsylvania.

We all know what happened at that little Pennsylvania town known as Gettysburg. The North and South met there for three days, fighting the most devastating battle ever fought in the Western Hemisphere.

On the evening of the second day, 2 July, Wallace, Frank, and Ben Ascended Culp's Hill and helped drive the Union forces from their trenches. On the third day, 3 July, they were ordered to continue their assault and to drive the enemy forces completely off the hill.

The odds were unbelievably high against the brave band of Marylanders. They were outnumbered many times over; they faced artillery without any support for them; and they were receiving fire from elevated ground, not only in their front but also on their right. As Wallace, Frank and Ben marched forward, they knew what faced them. Some Confederate units lay down on the ground and refused to advance any further, but not the brave Marylanders.

Onward they marched amongst the hail of shot and shell. They refused to stop and some Marylanders actually reached the Union trenches before they fell. The signal was finally given to fall back, but only one of the Bowling brothers was still standing. Frank had to retreat, knowing that his brothers had been shot. One can only imagine how Frank must have felt as he was forced to leave his brothers behind.

Records at the National Archives show that Wallace and Ben were captured on 3 July, 1863. Both men had been shot in the right thighs and, coincidentally, both received fractures to their right cheek bones.

When the list of casualties reached Southern Maryland, Wallace and Ben's father, Charles, wasted no time in arranging to visit his sons. Charles, who was in his late fifties, traveled to Gettysburg and requested that the Federal authorities allow him to see his sons. His request was approved, and upon his return to Milestown, he reported to family and friends that the Yankees were taking good care of his sons and that they were alive. He even brought back the bullet dug out of Ben's leg.

Wallace and Ben were kept at Gettysburg for awhile, but eventually were transferred to a Union hospital in Baltimore. Later that year both were released in a prisoner exchange at City Point, Virginia, just East of Richmond.

As fate would have it, a pretty young nurse with dark hair and brown eyes, by the name of Ellen Doleman, tended to Wallace, and they Quickly formed an attraction for each other.
Ben's wound was more serious than Wallace's, so Ben remained in the hospital for many months. Wallace, however, was released on furlough.

Being a Confederate Marylander, he had no place to go. If he crossed the Potomac to visit with his sister and parents, he likely would be captured by Union forces occupying Southern Maryland. Ellen offered that Wallace come with her to her mother's home in Westmoreland County, Virginia (Just across the Potomac River) and Ellen would help nurse him back to health.

Wallace accepted this offer and their love for each other continued to grow. In February, 1864, they were married in Ellen Doleman's mother's home. They had little money and their future was questionable. Wallace made $11 a month as a soldier, and Ellen made 25 cents a day as a nurse. They had little more than their love.

As winter was drawing to an end, Wallace returned to his unit. He never again fought with his brother Ben, but he was reunited in the ranks with his brother Frank. Wallace continued to go in and out of the hospital in Richmond suffering from a variety of ailments. He fought with Frank at the Battle of Cold Harbor, Virginia, and defended the city of Petersburg. In April, 1865, he and Frank were involved in a desperate clash with the Yankees known as the Battle of Hatcher's Run, south of Petersburg. Both brothers were captured and sent to Point Lookout Prison Camp in their home county of St. Mary's.

While in prison, they were compelled to eat rats to stay alive. To keep himself busy, Wallace developed his sewing skills and became an excellent tailor. After being in prison a couple of months, they were released. In the meantime, Ben had been captured near Raleigh, North Carolina and the paroled.
The three brothers returned home to Milestown, but things were not the same. Their mother had died during the war; perhaps her broken heart had affected her health.

Wallace crossed the Potomac and headed for the Doleman farm to be reunited with his young bride. As he approached the house, a little girl was standing at the gate to meet him. She was Bell, his daughter whom he had never seen. She had been born while he was fighting for the Confederacy.

Wallace and Ellen built a house at one end of the Doleman farm, where they raised corn. They also grew vegetables and sold them at the nearby store. They had eight children: Bell, Charles, Washington, Robert, Frank, Shakespeare, Tom, and Abby. Eventually, all the children moved to Maryland and all the boys bought farms in Charles County. Bell and Abby made their homes in the Baltimore area.

Ellen died at age 45 from a sickness called "bloody flux." She is buried in Westmoreland County, Virginia. Wallace moved to Charles County and lived with his sons. He died in 1904 of consumption and is buried at Trinity Church in Newport. At the time he was living with his two oldest sons, Charles and Washington, on a farm called "Charlesborough Hills."