On October 15, 1864, Colonel Charles Russell Lowell Jr. wrote to his wife from the camp of the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry near Cedar Creek in the Shenandoah Valley:
“I’ve only ten minutes to write to you; I was out all this morning, junketing at the various headquarters, and only came home to dinner at two o’clock. Since that, has come an order to get in light marching order, and be in readiness to move. I conjecture a raid is on foot for our Division,—perhaps to Charlottesville,—if so, you will not hear from me again for a week or even ten days.
“I think Sheridan will have to fight one more battle here, probably while we are gone,—i am sorry to miss it, but perhaps we shall be of more use where we are going. You will know that I am safe, at any rate, —so safe do I feel tonight that I shall be riding Berold; I rode him his morning, too, in making my calls. I heard for the first time that poor Colonel Wells of the Thirty-Fourth Massachusetts was killed in the attack the Rebs made on our camps day before yesterday,—he was considered an excellent officer.
“What a letter this for the last one for ten days, but you know how I am when I have anything on foot, I’m all distracted.”
The hoped for raid turned out to be a comparatively short ride to Front Royal, Virginia, to destroy some supplies, then the regiment was back in camp. Colonel Lowell penned other letters to his wife, mother, and a few friends over the next days. Part of his letter on the 17th to his mother reads:
“There’s really nothing to tell here… We are in a glorious country, with fine air to breathe and fine views to enjoy; we are kept very active, and have done a good deal of good work; I have done my share, I think,—but there’s nothing to make a letter of.”
Four days after the letter to his wife and two days after the letter to his mother, Colonel Lowell fought at the Battle of Cedar Creek, leading his regiment in a charge toward Middletown as Union troops rallied to reclaim their camps and drive back the Confederates. Dangerously wounded in the chest during an early charge, Lowell insisted on remaining with his regiment and led another attack, galloping forward at the head of his regiment. A second wound threw the colonel from his horse, and he was carried into a nearby home/field hospital. Paralyzed by his second injury, Lowell lingered for hours and bade farewell to his officers who came to see him after the Union victory had been secured on the battlefield. He died quietly on October 20, 1864, only twenty-nine years old.
Today, a small granite marker sits near the corner of Main Street and First Street in Middletown near the location where Lowell fell. (Lowell is buried in Massachusetts.)