The Boggs Family Papers comprise twenty-one letters, two photographs and four pieces of related materials. Eleven of the letters were written by William R. Boggs, and ten of these were to his brother and sister, Maggie and Adam Boggs, while he was in the Union Army from 1863 - 1865. (Note: The William R. Boggs whose letters are in this Collection should not be confused with the Confederate Brigadier General of the same name.) There are two photographs of William Boggs and they appear to date from the same era. The remainder of the correspondence mostly dates after the Civil War and relates to the Boggs family, mainly William and Maggie's generation. A majority of this correspondence is written either to or from members of the Boggs family. Among the related correspondence are two brief letters and one brief legal document from the late 1830's, all three of which relate to minor family affairs.
The ten letters from William Boggs during his service in the Union Army, nine to his sister, Maggie, and one to his brother, Adam, form the most interesting part of the Collection. In them we follow Boggs from various camps in Pennsylvania as a regular soldier, where he describes picket duty, raids by the "Johny Rebs" and camp conditions. Eventually he moves south, and in a letter from Maryland he describes winter conditions in the camp and tells the tale of a cousin who was taken prisoner by the Confederates. The Confederates were not feeding their prisoners enough, and his cousin said he had to "trade his gun blanket for two crackers...and (that he) saw men...picking up crackers in the mud that others had thrown away." Eventually William Boggs becomes Commander of his company as Lieutenant, and heads south to Virginia. In Virginia he is seriously wounded in the foot and remains in the hospital for two months until he is discharged from the Army. In these letters from Chesapeake Hospital in Ft. Monroe, we see the physical devastation the War had on soldiers, as his handwriting becomes shaky and he is only able to write a few lines at a time. He describes the hospital briefly, mentioning his helplessness and the fact that there are many Union soldiers there with him. It is also interesting to see how Boggs' tone changes from optimistic and excited in his first letters, when he is out in the field, to weak and dispirited once he enters the hospital. Throughout, however, he remains fiercely loyal to the Union's cause.
Because the set of letters from William Boggs during the Civil War comprise the longest and most consistent set of corrrespondence in the collection, I placed them in the first nine folders. I arranged the remainder of the material according to chronology and how closely it related to William Boggs and his immediate family. Among them are three pieces from the 1830's, one of which was signed by a William Boggs (folder 11). The final two folders contain materials related to the Boggs family and stretch into the 1920's. Most of this material consists of gossip and family related news. We see from these folders that the Boggs family spread out across the Midwest in later years, yet remained close.
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