The Letters of George Boardman Boomer

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

George Boardman Boomer
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, May 6

At last through the ‘many and various’ we are two days in bivouac as above.

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 success.

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 you.

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 wounded.

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 are lost.

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.


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