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AfriGeneas Military Research Forum

AA in the USCT's Using an Alias

AA men in the USCT's using an alias

Hello All,

Perhaps you have an ancestor who served in the CW with the USCT's and can't locate them. Their serving under an Alias may be the reason. Here is an interesting example provided by "Bus" & Joy Bowdry members of the African American Genealogy Group of the Miami Valley (AAGGMV). Bus’ great-grandfather served under an Alias

Tobias Bowdry from Tishomingo Co., MS served in the USCT, 27th Reg't Co. I under the name of Wilson Jones. The Bowdry's having a copy of the discharge papers for Tobias Bowdry went searching for more of his military records and eventually uncovered this story.

Tobias Bowdry went into the CW with the son of his slave owner, Lt. William Bowdry, serving as his body servant. The Confederate unit they were serving in was defeated by the Union Army and they were taken as prisoners of war and sent to Union prisoner of war camp(s) in Ohio.

First to Camp Chase near Delaware, Ohio and then Lt. Bowdry was sent further North to Johnson’s Island, near Sandusky, Ohio on Lake Erie. While Tobias was kept at Camp Chase he was allowed to volunteer with the USCT and so he went into the 27th USCT which was formed at Camp Chase.

His pension record indicates that it was recommended that he enlist under an assumed name and the name of Wilson Jones was used. He was told that if he went in as Tobias Bowdry and was captured then it would be possible for him to be sent back to the slave-owning family.
Following his service Tobias was returned to Delaware County, Ohio where he was mustered out as Tobias Bowdry.

When he filed for his pension, which he received, he had to prove that Wilson Jones and Tobias Bowdry were one and the same. Depositions and Affidavits from persons who served in the 27th with Bowdry helped to prove his case an he was awarded the pension of $20.00 per month.

The Bowdry’s requested that the USCT Memorial Plaque (B-43) with the name of Wilson Jones be changed to that of Tobias Bowdry and were informed that it couldn’t be done as there were over 2,000 men who served under an Alias and it would be a massive effort to make all of the name changes.

This is just a capsule of the story which is fascinating when read from Tobias Bowdry’s pension file. A few good reference resources are found at:

Camp Chase:
Johnson’s Island Prison:
CW Pension Index:
27th USCT :
USCT Memorial:

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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