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Ozzy

Boring letters.

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Whether by accident or design, Terre Haute Indiana not only found itself on the National Road (leading from Cumberland Maryland to St. Louis Missouri -- today's Route 40), but Terre Haute sits within a stone's throw of Illinois. That accidental location led to many Indiana citizens joining an infantry regiment associated with Crawford County, Illinois... or more particularly, a regiment associated -- by design -- with a brigade created by Illinois Congressman John McClernand, consisting of the 27th, 30th and 31st Illinois Infantry regiments.

One of these "Indiana soldiers" serving Illinois was Benjamin Franklin Boring, who joined the 30th Illinois, Company D, at the age of 21 in August 1861. Rapidly advancing to Corporal, Benjamin Boring first saw action at Belmont; then was "part of the reserve" supporting the 8th Illinois (as part of Oglesby's Brigade) at Fort Donelson. The March 29th 1862 letter from Corporal Boring to his friend, Will Jones of Robinson Illinois, describes the visual scars of battle still evident in the landscape around Fort Donelson; the onset of illness (so severe that at one point only eleven men of 81 could report for duty in Company D); and following the battle, several regiments were sent to garrison Clarksville (which is where Benjamin Boring hopes his regiment will be sent, not really fond of his current location... although he indicates that he "has taught himself to play the piano tolerably well" by making use of the piano found in an abandoned house near Dover.) http://visions.indstate.edu:8888/cdm/ref/collection/vcpl/id/3337  [Letter of 29 March 1862, courtesy of Wabash Valley Visions and Voices of Indiana Libraries.]

At the time of Corporal Boring's letter, Major General McClernand's original brigade had been comprehensively removed from his control: the 30th Illinois was on garrison duty at Fort Donelson; the 31st Illinois was also on garrison duty at Fort Donelson; and the 27th Illinois was taking part in the Operation against Island No.10. Following the Battle of Shiloh, the 30th Illinois and 31st Illinois reported to Pittsburg Landing and became part of McClernand's Reserve (Sergeant Benjamin Boring has a number of letters written from Jackson Tennessee: the letter dated 27 May 1862 is most revealing.) The 27th Illinois also joined the Crawl to Corinth, but remained part of Pope's Army of the Mississippi.

Sergeant Boring continued to write letters (and contributed stories to Illinois and Indiana newspapers) until his muster-out at expiry of his three-years' term of service in 1864. Many of those letters are to be found at the listed online site (with some of the most interesting detailing his involvement with the Vicksburg -- Raymond -- Champion Hills campaign.)

Cheers

Ozzy

 

References:  http://visions.indstate.edu:8888/cdm/ref/collection/vcpl/id/3337  Letters of Benjamin F. Boring 30th Illinois Co.D

http://www.findagrave.com/memorial/26334910/benjamin-f-boring  Benjamin Boring at find-a-grave

http://www.vigo.lib.in.us/archives/inventories/wars/civilwar/boring.php  Benjamin Boring bio at Vigo County Library

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Mona

You are correct: Sergeant Boring provides a compelling account of the September 1862 action at Britton's Lane (which pitted perhaps 3000 Confederate cavalry from a variety of units, under command of BGen Frank Armstrong against 1500 - 2000 men under overall command of Colonel Elias Dennis, in charge of a combined force of infantry (20th Illinois and 30th Illinois), cavalry (4th Ohio and some of the 4th Illinois) and one section of artillery (two guns of Gumbart's Battery E of the 2nd Illinois). The OR 17 (part 2) pages 180 - 197 contains important details of the lead-up to Britton's Lane (the Federal emphasis on rebuilding railroads, and the Confederate success at denying use of those railroads... and, most importantly, U.S. Grant's request for more Federal cavalry to combat the sizable-and-growing force of Confederate cavalry; and Halleck's denial of that request (page 182); and Halleck's admission (page 186) in a letter to Sherman  in August 1862 that, "things are not going well in the West"). For reports (both sides) of the aftermath of Britton's Lane see OR 17 (part 1) pages 43 - 51. And for the best overall summary of the Battle of Britton's Lane:  http://www.brittonlane1862.madison.tn.us/battle_history.htm  

The Battle of Britton's Lane may be considered a Federal victory (because Union forces were in possession of the battlefield when the fighting was over); or it may be considered a "costly, but successful Confederate raid" because of the capture of Gumbart's artillery, as well as over 200 Union soldiers taken prisoner; the capture or destruction of much of the Federal supply train; and the "tearing up" of a mile of track and destruction of railroad bridges.

Cheers

Ozzy

 

References:   http://www.civilwar.org/visit/heritage-sites/britton-lane-battlefield  Brief summary of Britton's Lane

http://visions.indstate.edu:8888/cdm/ref/collection/vcpl/id/3337   Letter of Sergeant Boring dated 12 SEP 1862

http://ebooks.library.cornell.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=moawar;cc=moawar;q1=Dennis;rgn=full text;idno=waro0024;didno=waro0024;node=waro0024%3A2;view=image;seq=70;page=root;size=100   OR 17 parts one and two

 

 

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Ozzy...do you know how I can print off the Britton Lane section? I will see a gentleman this sat. that lives there and does alot with the battlefield history. Mona

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Mona

I assume you are referring to Benjamin Boring's letter of 12 September 1862 (which I attempted to "save as" ...and print ...and all I got was a yellow square.) However, each page of Boring's letter is transcribed at bottom of each page: if you drag your mouse over the text of the transcript, you can "copy," and then "paste" that bit of the transcript to an existing Word Document. Not as pretty as the original cursive handwritten letter, but better than nothing.

All the best

Ozzy

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