Jun 19, 2006

Brave Miss Bowman of Bush River Bridge

Gen. Isaac R. Trimble, CSA

Camp Dare, at Bush River
July 11, 1861

Col. H. H. Lockwood:
Sir: As a part of the command stationed on the line of the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad, we deem it but right and proper to make known to you the heroic conduct of the daughter of Mr. Bowman, the keeper of the bridge at this place, on the night of the burning of the bridge by Trimble and his men. From Mr. Smith, the master carpenter of the road, and others who where present on the occasion, we have learned the following particulars:
When the train bearing the bridge-burners had crossed the bridge, and Trimble had drawn his men in line immediately in front of Mr. Bowman's house, the object of their coming was announced in the hearing of Miss Jane by Trimble himself. She pronounced him a coward, and in a loud voice called upon the men, who had been armed by the road and placed there to protect the bridge, to defend it, and when she saw these men throw away their arms, some of them taking to the woods and others hiding within her father's house, she called upon them again not to run, but to stand fast and show themselves to be men. At this time, seeing one of the pistols lying on the floor of the porch, which had been thrown away by one of the bridge-guards, she picked it up and ran with it. Meeting Mr. Smith she gave it to him, saying at the same time, "Use it; if you will not, I will."
Another evidence of the wonderful courage and presence of mind of Miss Jane was shown in her anxiety for the safety of one of the men employed by her father to assist him in taking care of the bridge. This man was on the draw at the time the firing of the bridge commenced. Miss Jane was the first to think of him, and promptly called upon her father, or some one, to go for him in a boat, saying, "If no one else will go, I will."
In conclusion, permit us to say that such heroism in a young lady as shown in the conduct of Miss Bowman on this occasion has rarely been met with anywhere, and, in our opinion, should not be suffered to go unrewarded.

James Green
Captain Company D, First Delaware Volunteers
E. J. Smithers
First Lieutenant

From The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion. You can find the letter in the records here.

Bush River Bridge Today (Click on image to enlarge), courtesy MDRails. The PW&B is now Amtrak. The B&O (CSX) didn't run through Harford County until well after the war.

Picture of Trimble courtesy the National Park Service. I could not find a picture of Miss Jane Bowman, who's described in another letter as "not over 22 or 23, and really, for her station in life, quite an attractive young person."