Sunday, June 16, 2013

Charles Otis Low 1840-1902 (Low Cemetery)

Charles Otis Low

Charles Otis Low was born in La Porte County, IN, on 26 Mar 1840 to Daniel and Mary Barker Low. At the age of 20, on 30 Sep 1861, he enlisted in the Indiana 4th Light Artillery Battery which was organized at Indianapolis, IN, under Captn Asahel K. Bush. In June of 1862 after serving in several areas of Kentucky, his regiment served “unattached” to the Army of the Ohio in the 1st Battle of Chattanooga.

On May 29, Brig. General James Negley, with a small division, led an expedition to capture Chattanooga. This force arrived before Chattanooga on June 7. Negley ordered some of the troops out to reconnoiter. They found the Confederates entrenched on the opposite side of the river along the banks and atop the hill. Negley brought up two artillery batteries to open fire on the Rebel troops and the town and sent infantry to the river bank to act as sharpshooters. The Union bombardment of Chattanooga continued throughout June 7 and until noon on June 8. The confederate loss was minor and the Union Army withdrew. Wikipedia online contains much information about this battle. Charles had been wounded and captured there. According to his obit, was taken to Libby Prison, a confederate POW camp in Richmond, VA. The prison was harsh,
unsanitary and overcrowded. Here he spent several months. He was discharged from the prison in 1863, and owing to his injuries and health, he was discharged from the Union Army on 26 Aug 1863, more than a year after his capture.

After the war, the prison was taken apart and rebuilt in Chicago as the Libby Prison Museum. The buildings were purchased in 1888 by a Chicago syndicate, composed of W. H. Gray, Josiah Cratty, John A. Crawford and Charles Miller, and the architectural firm of Burnham & Root, for $23,000.

The building was taken apart each board, beam, brick, timber and stone-cap was numbered and lettered in such a manner that there was not the least trouble about placing these parts correctly together again. It was sent on its way to Chicago a total of 132 twenty-ton cars.

The enterprise was incorporated as the Libby Prison Museum Association and was erected on the block of Wabash Avenue, between 14th and 16th Streets in Chicago where it opened in Sep 1889. The museum was a popular and profitable venture until the association was disbanded in 1899 to make way for the Chicago Coliseum.

The museum collection and many bricks and building parts went to the Chicago Historical Society. The beams, timbers and most of the wood were sold to an Indiana farmer named Davis and he used these to build a massive barn on his farm at Hamlet (Starke County) Indiana. The barn still stands and is owned by his daughters, Miss Ella J. Davis and Mrs. Charles Dowdell of Chicago. Most of the timbers still show the
stenciled words "Second Floor M; or "Third Floor E.", together with the pathetic names and initials carved by the men while in prison.

*For more information on the barn made of Libby prison timbers, see footnote.

At the close of the Civil war thousands of discharged soldiers came to Kansas and entered homesteads. Charles Otis Low was one of them. These entries were not land grants in the ordinary meaning of that term, but they were made possible by liberal amendments to the homestead laws, and have sometimes been designated as "military grants." He remained in Holton, KS until 1885 when he returned to the family homestead. Prior to his death on 9 May 1902, Charles moved to an apartment in Michigan City. His death was listed in the La Porte Daily Herald as due to consumption aggravated by the injuries received in the War.

Parts of this information on Libby Prison is from a reprint of Official Publication #12, Richmond Civil War Centennial Committee, 1961- 1965, no copyright claimed, but the original was compiled by R. W. Wiatt, Jr.

Photo of barn on Davis property and further information about the barn was provided by Fern Eddy Schultz, La Porte County, IN Historian. “They (the timbers) were purchased by Charles J. Danielson who in turn sold them to Mr. Davis who had a large stock farm near Hamlet… In December 1963, the barn was dismantled… The barn was purchased by Kenneth Mercer of Spencer, IN who was said to intend to construct it as a museum on property he owned in the west central part of the state. In October 2012, I was told that the trail of the barn ended with less than 1% of the barn’s material being preserved in Pamplin Park, Petersburg, VA due to a train wreck carrying the material from Chicago to Virginia.”

Researched and presented by Dorothy Germain Palmer, 6/11/2013

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