Civil War Letters published in Robinson Argus

Civil War Letter and Diary

This first letter was written by Ben F. Boring and was published in the Robinson Argus. I'd like to thank Sue Jones for transcribing this for us to enjoy. These letters relate to the status of Company D, 30th Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry, an outfit which had been organized in Robinson in August, 1861.

Co. D went to the front with Capt. Thomas G. Markley as Captain, Michael Langton as Lieutenant, George E. Melly as 2nd Lieutenant. In his first engagement, the Battle of Belmont, on November 6, 1861, Capt. Markley was killed in action. It was recorded that Lt. Melly was promoted to captain on April 12, 1863, and he in turn was killed in action on May 16, 1863, a little more than a month later, Patterson Sharp was made captain on June 13, 1863, and apparently survived the numerous battles and skirmishes thereafter, and was mustered out July 8, 1865, Lt. W. D. Hand was promoted to Captain July 10, 1865. It was noted that Martin L. James was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant July 17, 1865.

The illustrious history of Co. D included the Battles of Belmont, Fort Henry, Fort Donelson, Corinth, Champion Hills and Vicksburg. On January 1, 1864, it was veteranized and thereafter participated in the Atlanta campaign and marched with Sherman to the Sea. A grandfather of the editor was a cavalryman in Sherman's march. Company D was mustered out of service at Louisville, KY, on July 27, 1865.

30th Illinois Volunteers
In the field near Atlanta, GA
July 24, 1864

Friend Harper:
     It is under very unfavorable circumstances that I attempt writing you a short message this evening.
     Since my last to the Argus from Bushy Hills, Ga., we have continually been on the move and under fire night and day. Sorry to report another casualty list from Co. D shall have to accompany this note.
     I shall not attempt anything upon a broad scale but will give in brief an account of the loss sustained by Co. D and the 30th Regiment on the 22nd in one of the bloodiest battles ever fought under the sun.
     The 17th Army Corps is the left wing of the Army of the Tennessee and at the time of the attack occupied a range of hills and ridges in a semi-circular line 1 1/2 miles southwest of Atlanta. The First Brigade was in the center of the Division on the left of the Corps being the only one Brigade of infantry to our left, when the sudden attack and heavy charge was made. Assault was made precisely at 2 p.m. in the rear and left of our line. At the time of the attack Co. D was on the skirmish line, one mile in advance of the main line and close enough to Atlanta to throw musket balls into it.
     We scarcely had time to get into the ditches and fill our empty cartridge boxes until the storm of musketry and artillery swept our entrenchments lengthwise and rear. At this terrible onslaught, our regiment was alone, the balance of the brigade being sent to the rear at the opening of the fight.
     Fighting with both ends of our muskets and on both sides of our breastworks, against flanking fire and four lines of battle of rebels shouting like savages as they pushed our single line endwise stubbornly back to a small fort to our right where we rallied with a portion of our brigade and was immediately assaulted on three sides by the rebels who attempted to climb the breastworks and enter the fort at the port holes. Finding it impossible to stand the shower of liquid death poured into their ranks, they began to scatter, leaving the ditches and the field in front of us covered with their dead and wounded.
     We followed up their retreat and took up our former position along our old line of works, when we were charged a second time and again fell back to the fort with the loss of our Colonel, our colors and 170 men in the regiment. One flag bearer was shot dead under his colors and the other with both flags, captured. Here, night drew her mantle of darkness over the bloody field and the tide of battle ceased.
     Following is a brief and hasty account of the fighting of one regiment which was general throughout the three corps. But will advise no further and will leave the balance to better informed persons and return to Co. D.
     We went into the fight with 21 men whose names I will give below so all can see who is left and who is gone.

Capt. Patterson Sharp
2nd Lt. Isaac Mann, prisoner
2nd Serg't. R. N. Longnecker, prisoner
5th Serg't. Ben F. Boring
2nd. Cpl. Aaron McIlwee, prisoner
3rd Cpl. John L. Bussard

The following privates:
Harry Bush, prisoner
Cyrus Banther
Daniel O. Beers, killed
Oliver H. Bishop
John C. Dyer, prisoner
John A. Floyd, killed
E. L. Hicks
Joseph Kent, wounded severely
Benj. B. Longnecker
John Lemon
G. D. McGuire, prisoner
F. W. Thomas, prisoner
S. B. Patterson (drummer) killed
1st Serg't. Everett L. Bishop, died of disease at Huntsville, Ala., June 19.

     A flag of truce was set up for a short time and our dead in the hands of the enemy were carried in and exchanged man for man. We are huddled together in a hole 6' x 8' with breastworks all around us.
     General McPherson, commanding Department of the Tennessee (15th, 16th and 17th Corps) was killed on the field. His body fell in hands of the enemy but was retaken by our boys and carried off the field. General Logan takes his place. Bullets and shells are passing over our heads continuously and sometime I will write again if circumstances permit.

Respectfully, etc.
Ben F. Boring, Co. D, 30th Ill Vet, Inf., 2nd. Brigade, 3rd Division, 17th Army Corps.

In another note written August 18, Boring reported that "a 24-lb shell from a rebel howitzer exploded in our ditch last evening, severely wounding Levi Cox in the right thigh near the hip."


For the reason that the writer is the son of a Civil War Veteran from Crawford County, and is interested in the history of the 98th Illinois Volunteers, Company E., enlisting in August, 1862 as member of the Union Army, under the leadership of Captain John T. Cox, later replaced by election of Ira A. Flood, on account of the resignation of John T. Cox, of Palestine; and First Lieut. George B. Sweet and John Boes, as 2nd Lieut., all of Palestine; and Sergeants(?) W. A. Hope, Andrew Hulse, and J. William Jones, of Robinson and vicinity; and Corporals Abraham Walters, John A. Van Winkle, Geo W. Bradbury, Nathanial Holmes, John W. Barker, Daniel B. Mills and John D. Morrison, with John Collins, as Wagoneer; others serving in this Company from Crawford County, were Samuel Ayers, Samuel Anderson, R. M. Anderson ( who served 10 mos. in the Andersonville Prison), John M. Barker, Wm. H. Boyd. Benton Buckingham, John Bemis, Wm. R. Barlow, John Chadwick, Richard Cox, John C. Duncan, Andrew W. Duncan, James C. Duncan, Alfred Dorsey, John C. Edmonson, James P. Edmonson, Wm.H. Edmonson, Charles D. Fitch, John E. Ford, Stephen K. Fuson, Enos Gwin, Geo. D. Griswold, Austin W. Gordon, Geo. R. Hopkins, James M. Holmes, Hooper C. Hale, Geo. W. Hartwell, Albert Harvey, Jos. J. Hook, William A. Hope, (in Andersonville Prison 9 mos.), John L. Ingersoll, Samuel F. Jacobs, Geo. E. Jenkins,  Wm. H. Johnson, Stephen Jones, Henry Lake, Rufus R. Lull, Wm. R. Landrith, Moses Leatherman, William Lambdin, David M.Lovelace, John W. Monroe, John D. Morrison, Zach Mullins, Wm. H. Musgrave, Simeon F. Murphy, Geo. W. Murphy, William McKamy, John C. Maxwell, Jeremiah Millage, John Meyer, Wm. A. McReynolds, J. E. Meskimen, Thomas J. Piper, John W. Richards,  Henry C. Reynolds Geo Stump, John E. Shedden, John Smith, Wm. A. Salesbery, Noah W. Tohill, Lewis N. Tohill, James A. Tedford. J.C. Van Eaton, John A. Van Winkle, Christian Wineman, Cyrus Wallace, Thos. W. Walker, James W. Walters and Abraham Walters.

Some few years ago Vic Smith read a Diary kept by my father, William McKamy, a member of Co. E. 98th IL. Vol. and he ran a column in the Argus, copying some of the daily recordings verbatim, to wit:

     Saturday Sept. 19. In an open field in front of the rebel army. Orders to lie down and be quiet but it was more than I could do as the rebel minnie balls were digging the dirt around us all the while making it a very uncomfortable place to be in. I fired three rounds and was in the act of firing the fourth when I was struck by a minnie ball just below the right eye passing under my nose and through my left cheek, coming out just above the jaw bone, then entering my left shoulder joint and coming out on the back side of my arm, knocking me unconscious. When I came to my senses I found that I was wounded but how bad I could not tell at that time, but made my way back to the rear as fast as I could where I was picked up and placed in an ambulance and taken to the field hospital where I was as well cared for as circumstances would permit. I was unconscious until Sunday morning.
     Sunday morning, Sept. 20. Found myself in charge of a Surgeon, very sore and nearly blind. Had good attention but nothing to eat. Very quiet and a beautiful Sunday morning. We thought both armies were going to have respect for the Sabbath, but in the afternoon, we were dissappointed when our army was overpowered and we fell back on Chattanooga in the hands of the rebels.
     Sept. 21. My wounds not so painful today. Rebels report our army demoralized and our wagon trains all in their possession.
     Sept. 22. My condition about the same as yesterday.
     Sept. 23. Men dying all around me very fast. Rebels don't have much to say, but refuse to bury our dead.
     Sept. 24. Not much to eat but don't want much. Rebels have nothing to say about our army.
     Sept. 25. Received 1 barrel flour, some corn meal and small amount bacon for 100 men. Rebels report that our men now hold Chattanooga.
     Sept. 27. Feel better. See men dying all around me. Arms and legs around amputating tables.
     Sept. 29. I was paroled by a Rebel officer. 300 ambulances came in under flag of truce. Received some supplies. Overjoyed at prospect of speedy deliverance from the hand of the rebels. I feel much better.
     Nov. 5. Left field hospital in ambulance train for boat landing 12 miles distant. Rained all day. Took boat for Bridge where we went to field hospital for 3 days. Then took train for Nashville and sent to hospital where I suffered a great deal from wounds and typhoid fever. Being a paroled prisoner I escaped being put in invalid corps.
     About the first of Feb. Geo. H. Maxwell from home came in my ward searching for me. Obtained a furlough the 4th and left with him for cars but found them over flowing so came back to hospital. Next day got transportation on Steamboat "Imperial" for Evansville, Indiana.

Co. E. 98th IL. Vol, was a part of Wilders Brigade. known as "The Lightning Brigade", composed of the 92nd IL, 123rd IL, 98th IL., 17th Ind., 72nd. Ind. and the 18th Ind.

My Father, William McKamy, was secretary of the 98th IL. and when it was decided to erect a monument for "Wilders Brigade on the Chickamauga, Battlefield, he was elected as Sec. and Treas. of that fund. This is the largest and finest monument on the battlefield and when the writer inspected this monument in the fall of 1950, it was in fine condition and the grounds well cared for. It is now known as Chickamauga Park, lying adjacent to the City of Chattanooga. Tennessee.


This page last updated on February 05, 2015.