John H. Crowder papers, 1862-1873.

Creator: Crowder, John H., 1846-1863.
Collection number: 5276-z
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Abstract: John H. Crowder, a 16-year-old African American lieutenant who fought in the United States Army during the Civil War, was born in 1846 in Louisville, Ky., to free parents. After being abandoned by her husband, Crowder’s mother, Martha Ann Stars, moved with her son to New Orleans, La. During the Civil War, from 1862 to 1863, Crowder served in the 1st Regiment of the Louisiana Native Guard under the command of Major General Benjamin F. Butler. The Louisiana Native Guard was one of the first regiments of people of color to serve in the Union Army. Crowder was killed in action at the battle of Port Hudson in 1863. The collection contains eleven photocopied letters, dated November 1862 to May 1863, from John H. Crowder while he was serving in the 1st Regiment of the Louisiana Native Guards in the United States Army. Ten of the letters are addressed to his mother, Martha Ann Stars, and one to his sister. Crowder wrote from positions in Louisiana including Camp Bivouac at Lafourche Crossing, Camp Lookout at Bayou Louis, Camp Houston and the headquarters of the 1st Regiment of the Lousiana Native Guards in Baton Rouge. In the letters, Crowder discussed his life as a soldier, troop movements, and his wages and expenses. He also wrote to refute rumors that he was arrested and that he had married; to request his mother to send items, such as an engineering book and a talisman, and to thank her for items already sent; and to urge her not to tell anyone of his true age for fear he would be expelled from the army for being too young. The last letter, dated 5 May 1863, contains an itemized list of the expenses he deducted from his wages and the remaining amount he sent to his mother. The collection also includes 48 photocopied pages of deposition of Martha Ann Stars and friends relating to Stars’s attempt to obtain her son’s military pension.

Repository: Southern Historical Collection