The Letters of George
26th Missouri Infantry
from Memoir of
George Boardman Boomer by Mrs. Mary Amelia (Boomer) Stone,
Boston: Press of Geo. C. Rand & Avery., 1864.
The text was transcribed and a available on on-line at
July 26, 1832 – May 22, 1863
George Boardman Boomer
was the first colonel of the 26th Missouri. During the Vicksburg
Campaign, he commanded the 3rd Brigade, 7th Division, 17th Corps.
Col. Boomer was killed leading his brigade in an assault on
Vicksburg, May 22, 1863. By request of provisional Governor Gamble,
Boomer received a posthumous promotion to Brigadier-General from
President Lincoln for "gallant conduct."
Camp on Big Black River, Mississippi,
At last through the ‘many and various’ we are two days in bivouac as
I am in excellent spirits. Major Brown is in here, and I am abusing him
and having a real ‘feast of reason’ and ‘flow of soul;’ indeed, it
is hard to bring myself down to write, being in a ripe condition to use my
tongue instead of my pen; and while I know you are glad of it, yet I
believe too you would like to have me make the sacrifice to write.
I left Millikin’s Bend the 25th April, and arrived here on the evening
of May 3, having marched, by the route I took, above one hundred and
twenty miles, a portion of the distance over horrible roads. I crossed my
command over the Mississippi River in the interim, and laid by one day for
other troops to pass, and moved the last day in the face of the enemy.
Since General Grant commenced to move his columns he has displayed great
tact and skill, together with immense energy and nerve. The passage of
this army over the Mississippi River and up to this point is one of the
most masterly movements known in the history of any warfare, and it is a
We shall soon commence the second movement, when you will probably
hear of a tremendous battle, and I trust a victory.
You have no idea, my dear sister, of the beauty and wealth of this
country. In Louisiana many of the plantations along the bayous and rivers
are magnificent in the extreme, especially the grounds, covered with every
variety of vegetation, all of the most luxuriant growth.
Bivouac Five Miles East of Utica, on
Raymond Road, Mississippi, May 11, 1863.
Dear Sister:---I am up very early this morning under orders to move but am
waiting for the columns to get off. It is about five o’clock a.m. I have
had my breakfast; the air is damp, chilly and smoky. The dust, of
something else, with a slight cold, have caused a soreness in my right
lung and throat, so that I am feeling poorly.
One thing which aids this condition is the news in the Southern papers
announcing another reverse to our arms in Virginia. I hope it may not be
true, but the probabilities seem to be that it is. If so, there seems
little hope of accomplishing anything there for a long time; and, besides,
it will have a bad effect upon us here. We have enough before us at best,
although the General is doing nobly, and has troops of great valor to
bring him through.
You will know by this time that I am no feeling well, and as I cannot send
you a letter now, being in the Southern Confederacy, so called, I will
await to-day’s march.
Sunday Evening, 17.
Since I wrote the above I have seen and felt more than I can express to
Our active operations began that day. We marched twelve miles and fought a
battle before Raymond. The forces engaged on either side were
comparatively small – one and a half division of ours, and about the
same of the enemy.
The night after the battle we bivouacked in Raymond. I led the advance
toward Jackson; skirmished for eleven miles under dreadful heat and dust.
The enemy did not engage his main force, I lost none; some were slightly
The next morning (it rained all day) we met the enemy, under General Joe
Johnson, eight miles in front of town. Our division joined in double line
of battle, drove them from their position, captured their artillery,
pushed them over their works and through the town, which we occupied at
four o’clock p. m.
The morning following we turned again for Vicksburg, made a march of
sixteen miles, and yesterday, after marching five miles, met the enemy’s
whole army in splendid fashion, moved out to fight the battle of
Vicksburg. We had but four divisions at hand to meet them with, and one of
those could scarcely be said to have a part in the battle
(Brigadier-General Osterhaus’s). The other three were Hovey’s, of
McClernand’s corps, General Logan’s, and ours of McPherson’s.
General Grant and General McPherson were both on the field. General Logan’s
division and Sanborn’s brigade were the right, General Hovey the left. I
was ordered first left, then right, and finally, as the enemy massed all
his force on General Hovey and commenced to rout him, I was ordered back
again to the left on the double quick, to support him. I did it manfully,
though his force was completely routed by the time I got on the ground,
and there was terrible danger of panic among my men for a moment. As his
scattered forces passed by, I swung my lines into position under a
terrible fire and drove them back. They reinforced again and came up, at
the same time endeavoring to flank me on the left. I swung my left back
again, and held them until I received two regiments from Holmes’s
brigade, which enabled me to drive them from the field.
I captured what was left of a Georgia regiment and an Arkansas battalion.
While we were doing this, General McPherson had forced their right, and
they fled in utter consternation. The result was the capture of two
thousand prisoners and sixteen pieces of artillery. The loss was about
equal on both sides.
The great struggle was on the left. General Hovey fought well; his men
drove the enemy a long distance; but they were all worn out, their
ammunition gone, and the enemy poured their whole force against him.
The victory was great and decisive, but, oh! at how dear a cost to me!
Five hundred and fifty-one of my brave men were killed or wounded! I
cannot bear to think of it – the way they fought and fell.
Major Brown, of my own regiment, is among the killed. He was as noble and
gallant as he was pure and true, and his spirit will never die. He handled
the regiment he commanded during that hot fight as though it were pastime,
and his praise is on every tongue.
Captain Welker was also killed, and we buried him with Lieutenant-Colonel
Horney, of the Tenth Missouri, and my dear friend Brown, this morning,
side by side, in rude coffins, with a description of the locality, that
will identify their graves if the rude mementos we placed at their heads
We are now at the crossing of the Big Black river, near the railroad
crossing. A part of the enemy had not crossed when our forces reached
here. General A. J. Smith’s Division, of McClernand’s Corps, charged
on them, and they surrendered before our line reached them – about three
thousand in all.
The enemy are totally demoralized, and a large force of them scattered in
every direction. To-morrow we shall know what of Vicksburg. The
indications are very favorable for us in every quarter of this campaign.
I thank God that my life has been thus far spared, and trust it may be
until the end. I have not been scratched. My horse yesterday was shot in
the leg, but he kept the field with me. I think much credit is awarded me
for my conduct, and I feel that I have done my duty.
Our noble soldiers have borne every hardship, trial and fatigue, hunger,
thirst, heat, and death, without a murmur.