Michigan in the Civil War

Boardman family.

The papers of the Boardman family of Dixon, Ill., includes seventeen letters written by John D. Boardman to his father while he was serving in Battery F and Battery I, 1st Illinois Light Artillery (1864-1865).

He often writes of the sound of artillery, especially on July 4, 1864, saying, "Cannonading continued 'til far in the night, and fireworks produced by the burning fuses and bursting shells was more beautiful than all the sky rockets I ever saw on the Fourth of July. It was magnificent and worth enlisting to see." "While I was in action," he said, "I was so intensely excited I forgot to be afraid."

He describes the beauty of the deserted town of Marietta, Ga.; Iuka, Miss., a fashionable watering place; and Chickasaw,Miss., taken over by blackberry bushes. In line of battle two miles from Atlanta, he gives a detailed account of the fighting, lists the casualties, and speaks of many prisoners taken. From Nashville in December, he notes the beauty of the farming country-corn and tobacco-, and describes their camp. Another time, while out with the team for wood, he tells about the farm houses and grounds. He likes the southern people because they are courageous, free-hearted and generous, kind and hospitable. He compares the generals and battles of this war with Napoleon and his campaigns. He tells of a vindictive captain who has a "good" soldier court-martialed for disobedience of orders and using disrespectful language, and of the unexpected results. Steamboats are bringing in rations for the citizens of Eastport, Miss.

Now that the war was over, he didn't want to go home. "I would almost be willing to forfeit all pay due me ... if we could receive orders to march tomorrow. But this is impossible for the war is over, and I almost regret its close." "When I think of the brilliant campaign last summer when we were victorious in every way, I think of bright days and the happy times and wish we had a chance to try it again." "I shall come home, but I hardly know what I can do when I get there. I had much rather be a deck hand on a steamboat than be in Dixon without anything to do."

Boardman died in Tombstone, Arizona in 1875.