AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED WITH GETTYSBURG CONTENT - CAPTAIN ANDREW COWAN, 1ST NEW YORK LIGHT ARTILLERY

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Item Code: L15572

Dated “Camp Near Berlin Md./ Arty. Brigade 6th Corps/ 18th July 1863.” Addressed to “Hon. Horatio Seymour/ Governor of New York.” One page, in ink, on lined paper, 9.75 x 7.75”, w/reverse endorsements. Exhibits fold-marks & small blue pencil mark, else near fine.

In the wake of the Battle of Gettysburg, Cowan writes Governor Seymour “to recommend Sergt. Orsamus [Orasmus] R. Van Ettan, 1st Independent Battery, N.Y.S.V. for promotion to 2nd Lieutenant vice 2nd Lieut. Peter Kelly resigned and honorably discharged.” Remainder of text:

“Sergeant Van Ettan by his gallant conduct on many Battle fields has richly won the Commission which I trust you will be pleased to confer upon him—He is in every respect competent to perform the duties of a Lieut. In all the Battle in which the Battery has been engaged (except the “Seven Days,” when he was absent in Hospital) he has performed his duty ably. At Gettysburg July 3rd when Longstreet’s Corps charged to the very muzzles of my Guns he commanded a Section—two of my officers being wounded—and won my warmest admiration by his splendid bravery. Grant him a Commission, and he will do honor to our state……..I am Sir/ Very Respectfully/ Your Obt. Servt/ Andrew Cowan Capt./ 1st Indept Batty N.Y.S.V.” Van Ettan, indeed, was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant.

Andrew Cowan was a native Scot who emigrated to America as a boy. In 1861, at age twenty, Cowan was commissioned 1st Lieutenant in the 1st New York Battery, which was eventually assigned to the VI Corps, Army of the Potomac, with which it served from May 1862 through the remainder of the war, participating in nearly all of that Army’s major engagements, as well as the 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign.

Cowan’s 1st New York Battery was in the thick of many of these fights, and especially the one at Gettysburg. In Cowan’s own words: “A body of the enemy who had taken shelter in my front behind an elevation covered with bushes, some 200 or 300 yards short of the wall, rushed forward. I had ordered our guns loaded with double canister, and also that they be pulled back by hand the moment we got a chance to fire. Lieut. Johnson had been badly wounded and borne from the field; Lieut. Atkins had been sun-struck, and now Lieut. Wright, who was at my side receiving my order was shot thru the lungs. Most of the enemy stopped behind the wall, but a number of them came on led by a young officer, waving his sword and shouting, “Take the gun,” at the instant we fired our double charge of canister (220 chunks of lead from each of the five guns.) We buried that officer with honor.”

During the course of the war, Cowan received brevet promotions to Major and Lieut. Col., while advancing to command of the 6th Corps artillery brigade, which performed brilliantly in collapsing the final Confederate assault at Saylor’s Creek., April 6, 1865. Following the war, he enjoyed a prosperous business career in Louisville, KY., and was quite active in veteran affairs. He died in Louisville, August 23, at age 78.

Superb Gettysburg-related ALS collectible. Brief amount of research material included. In protective sleeve.  [jp]

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