Col. David Cowles

A significant number of artifacts including a scrap book and other historic documents have been gifted to the City of Hudson from Mr. Scott Brinckerhoff and his wife, Donna, of Haddam Connecticut.

Mr. Brinckerhoff and his mother are descendents of Colonel David S. Cowles who is buried in Hudson. 

Among the items noted below are personal artifacts that belonged to Colonel David Smith Cowles of the 128th Regiment in the Civil War. The men of this regiment were under his command and were trained by him on the grounds that are now the Boulevards within the City of Hudson. 


Colonel David Smith Cowles was born in North Canaan, Connecticut on February 26, 1817. He was the son of the Rev. Pitkin and Fanny Smith Cowles. 

The scrapbook includes a variety of material that documents the life and accomplishments of Colonel Cowles. Included is a letter from David to his brother, Edward, a listing of personal items included in a trunk that was returned to his family upon his death when he was buried in Hudson.

Scrapbook Edited

This large bound volume contains a handwritten, contemporaneous description of Colonel Cowles' life and death. 

Cowles Telepgraph 1Cowles Telegraph 2  

The telegraphs above were sent by the colonel's brother, Edward, to William Adams of Canaan, CT. The one on the left asks Adams to "break gently to my mother the death of my brother Colonel Cowles, he fell with 200 of his regiment in storming the enemy's works at Port Hudson. His remains are embalmed and expected next week." 

The telegraph on the right asks Adams to inform the colonel's mother that "the remains of my brother have arrived safely with all his effects in charge of a member of his regiment and his servant."

Cowles MedalsThe items in the photograph adjacent are not included in the donation and remain with the family. 

Text on far left: 
Colonel David S. Cowles
Col. Cowles, an ancestor of Catherine Ticknor Brinckerhoff, was killed in the Civil War during a 48-day ordeal known as the siege of Port Hudson, Louisiana. Union and Confederate troops suffered intense losses in the course of assaulting the Confederate redoubt 80 feet above the Mississippi River. Despite their successful defense of of Port HUdson, the Confederates surrendered on July 9, 1863, after VIcksburg fell to the Union Side. 

Col. Cowles was born in Canaan, Connecticut in 1817, He attended Yale, became a successful lawyer, and joined a volunteer infantry from New York State in 1862 (certificate on the right), Col. Cowles dies on May 23, 1863, one hour after being hit by shrapnel. An estimated 5,200 Union soldiers died in the lengthy assault on this single garrison. Some 900 Confederate soldiers were killed in the battle or by disease. 

After being hit, Col. Cowles declined to be carried from the battlefield, preferring to die among his men. His last words to the sergeant attending him: "I believe I have done my whole duty as a man and as a soldier."

Brass buttons, a spur, name plaque, and memoriam ribbon artifacts are included below the certificate and short biography.

Cowles Grave
Colonel Cowles is buried in the Hudson City Cemetery in the Civil War section, 3D. After his death, a special meeting of the Common Council was held in 1863 to take in consideration the request of Colonel Cowles of the 128th Regiment, New York Volunteers, to be buried in the Hudson Cemetery, and to set apart a lot as a burial place for soldiers from Hudson. A resolution was adapted to set aside said part of the grounds on the west side of Vault Avenue for a burial place for officers and soldiers who died or were killed in the line of duty if they were residents during the time of their enlistment.

In 1867 it was brought to the attention of Council that the family of Colonel Cowles would erect a monument in the soldiers' plot. His remains were moved to the center of lot and the monument was placed over his grave. The monument, a single shaft of granite weighing 11 tons and costing $15,000, was completed in 1869.