William P. Bowen letter to Dr. Richard D. Arnold

William P. Bowen letter to Dr. Richard D. Arnold

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Hargrett Manuscripts
Creator: Bowen, William P.
Title: William P. Bowen letter to Dr. Richard D. Arnold
Dates: 1853
Quantity: 0.03 Linear feet (3 folders; housed with minor collections MS 1545 to MS 1550)
Coll. Number: ms1548(m)

Biographical/Historical Note

The cornerstone of the Pulaski Monument was placed in ceremonies on the afternoon of Oct. 11, 1853. Present for the occasion were Savannah militia units, local Masonic lodges, and a large number of citizens. Henry Williams delivered the main address, after which William Bowen read the following tribute to Pulaski: "This parchment is to record the laying of the corner-stone of a Monument in the centre of Monterey Square, at the junction of Bull and Wayne streets, (City of Savannah) to the memory of Brigadier-General County Pulaski, who fell mortally wounded by a swivel shot while on a charge at the head of a body of cavalry before the British lines, at the Siege of Savannah, on the ninth day of October, seventeen hundred and seventy-nine. Count Casimir Pulaski was born in the province of Lithuania, Poland, in the year seventeen hundred and forty-six. Arrived in the United States in the year seventeen hundred and seventy-seven (1777), and volunteered his service to the American Government in the great and glorious cause of Liberty and Freedom from British tyranny - received a commission from the Government as Brigadier-General of Cavalry, and fought gallantly in the battles of this country at Brandwine, Germantown, Trenton, Charleston, and Savannah. Aged 33. Robert E. Launitz, of New-York, Designer. M. Lufburrow and E. Jones, builders of the foundation." (Signed) Richard D. Arnold, Chairman of Commissioners. Wm. Robertsons, by Geo. Robertson, Jun., Treasurer. Wm. P. Bowen, Sen., Secretary and Commissioner. GeorgiaInfo. http://georgiainfo.galileo.usg.edu/statues/pulaskimon.htm Retrieved 3/13/2009.

Richard Dennis Arnold, a physician, was born in Savannah, Georgia, the son of Joseph Arnold and Eliza Dennis, occupations unknown. Despite hardships accompanying the deaths of both parents during childhood, Arnold, who had been an only child, received an excellent preliminary education and graduated with distinction from Princeton in 1826. He immediately began a medical apprenticeship under William R. Waring, a distinguished preceptor and member of an illustrious Charleston and Savannah family of physicians. After receiving his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1830, Arnold served for two years as a resident house officer in Philadelphia's old Blockley Hospital before returning to Savannah where in 1833 he married Margaret Baugh Stirk. Antebellum southern culture afforded numerous opportunities for able and energetic young men to contribute to community life far beyond the requirements and duties of a profession or vocation. Thus, while still in his mid-twenties, along with the vicissitudes of beginning medical practice Arnold entered on the various activities of an ever-widening public career that filled his lifetime. In 1833 he bought half interest in the Savannah Daily Georgian, and although he sold it two years later the editorial venture exercised his literary talents and whetted his interest in politics and public service. An ardent Jackson Democrat, he served in both houses of the state legislature, 1839-1843, was first elected a city alderman in 1842, and in 1843 began the first of four nonconsecutive terms as mayor of Savannah. His efforts for public improvement also included sponsorship of a state vital statistics registration law, support for sanitary reforms in Savannah, and service on the boards of health, water, and education, both state and local. He was also a founder in 1839 of the Georgia Historical Society. American National Biography Online. http://www.anb.org/articles/12/12-00025.html?a=1&f=arnold%2C%20richard%20dennis&ia=-at&ib=-bib&d=10&ss=0&q=1 Retrieved 3/13/2009.

Brigadier General Count Casimir (or Kazimierz) Pulaski came from Poland to fight in the American Revolution (1775-83). Frequently hailed as the founder of the American cavalry, he served in the Continental Army from late 1777 and died during the Siege of Savannah in October 1779. Rumors and controversies about the exact cause of death and place of burial emerged within a few decades of Pulaski's demise and continue to exist. James Lynah, the physician who removed the fatal grapeshot, claimed that he could have saved Pulaski if the general had remained in the American camp, but he insisted upon boarding a ship. The standard account of Pulaski's death comes from Captain Paul Bentalou in an 1824 essay entitled "Pulaski Vindicated from an Unsupported Charge. . . ." in which he claims that his commander died of gangrene aboard the Continental brigantine Wasp. Rapid deterioration of the body forced a burial at sea near Tybee Island, of which Bentalou claimed to be an eyewitness. A different account has Pulaski buried in South Carolina, while another report tells of a secret burial at Greenwich Plantation near Thunderbolt, in Chatham County, Georgia. When the city of Savannah erected a fifty-five-foot obelisk in Monterey Square to honor Pulaski during the 1850s, examiners exhumed the Greenwich Plantation grave believed to contain his remains. They pronounced the bones similar to a male the same age and height of the general. City officials reburied the remains underneath the monument in 1854. A more recent interpretation by Edward Pinkowski supports the Greenwich burial location and relies upon a letter written by the captain of the Wasp, Samuel Bullfinch, dated October 15, 1779. Captain Bullfinch notes that his ship lay off Thunderbolt and reported the burial detail of an American officer who had recently died aboard the ship and was given a funeral on land. When plans were made to disassemble and renovate the Monterey Square monument in the fall of 1996, the Pulaski DNA Investigation Committee exhumed the grave and had DNA taken from the remains compared with that from members of the Pulaski family buried in eastern Europe. Supporters of the theory that Pulaski's body lay in Monterey Square stressed that the skeletal remains revealed broken bones in the right hand as well as injuries to the head and tailbone similar to wounds suffered by the general. Results of the DNA testing, however, did not prove 100 percent conclusive because of water damage to the remains. On October 9, 2005, the 226th anniversary of the Siege of Savannah, the city organized special funeral services and a final reinterment ceremony at Monterey Square to honor the fallen soldier. The New Georgia Encyclopedia. http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-3475&hl=y Retrieved 3/13/2009.

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of a letter, dated 30 November 1853, in which William P. Bowen writes to Dr. Richard D. Arnold, chariman of the General Pulaski Monument Fund, concerning the burial place of General Pulaski. He relates that his Aunt and Mother were present at the Siege of Savannah and were familar with Pulaski's burial.

Index Terms

Arnold, Richard D., (Richard Dennis), 1808-1876 -- Correspondence
Bowen, William P. -- Correspondence
Bowen, William P. -- Family
Pulaski, Casimir, 1747-1779 -- Death and burial
Savannah (Ga.)--History--Siege, 1779.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

William P. Bowen letter to Dr. Richard D. Arnold, MS 1548. Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, The University of Georgia Libraries.

Series Descriptions and Folder Listing

11Letter, 1853