George Boardman Boomer
George Boardman Boomer was the first colonel of the 26th Missouri. After his death, his sister, Amelia Stone, wrote a book in 1864 on his life titled, "Memoir of George Boardman Boomer." It was very romantic in nature, but contained many extracts of his letters and journal entries, which gave great insight into his nature and character. Portions of her book are included in the regimental history, but the complete transcription is listed below.
The following is an outline of the book for those who don't have time to read the entire book.
Memoir of George Boardman Boomer
Father was a Baptist Minister (pg. 124)
Brother – L. B. Boomer
Sisters – Mary Amelia, married A. B. Stone, and another sister who married John Dagget.
8 years old, attended Uxbridge Academy.
Family moved to East Brookfield, MA. When young school boy
Attended Attleborough, Mass., Academy. Lived with brother-in-law, John Dagget
Attended Worchester Academy
Summer 1850, (letter dated Aug. 19, 1850) began to experience acute eyestrain, possibly from intense studying. Took summer off to recuperate in Otter Creek, Vermont. Was inspired by visit to Fort Ticonderoga, then in decay.
Despite summer 1850 trip, was unable to resume studies because of eyes.
Winter 1851, L. B. Boomer (brother of George) & a. B. Stone entered into Bridge building business, headquarters in Chicago.
19 years old, went to St. Louis to manage office of brother’s and brother-in-laws business.
Feb. 1852, arrived in St. Louis after trip down Ohio & Mississippi Rivers. Took up residence in Planter’s House. Began attending Second Baptist Church. Acquired piano and could play for entertainment. Began taking French lessons to communicate with upper class society in St. Louis.
At 19 was considered very young to be considered seriously in business dealings, but gradually gained respect with his intelligence and common sense. Obtained contract to build bridges for state of Missouri and traveled throughout state locating resources.
Page 61 1853 – Summer, returned home for visit, returned to St Louis by October.
Page 64 About 1853-54, became partner in bridge building firm of Boomer & Stone.
Page 66 1854 - Bought "township" of timberland from government on a bend of Osage River, 15 mi. from mouth. Built sawmill across river from Castle Rock formation - Named after man who lived in cave in rock. Town named Castle Rock, sometimes known as "Boomer’s Mills."
Page 68 On Slavery, "That I believe in slavery is a libel." Believed in the law & believed that concept of slavery & property was upheld by law. Page 69 - "I believe it (slavery) must be gradual emancipation. To set all our slaves free without any preparation, would require at once the power of the bayonet, we should be plunged into civil war."
Page 76 1856, by this time (2 years after its creation), Castle Rock had a hotel, store, warehouses, church, blacksmith shops, wagon shops, & several homes. Steam power to run "large flouring mill" & double saw mill. 4 hulls of steamboats had been laid. Sawmill used to generate lumber for steamboats, bridges, houses & still had enough to ship large quantities to St. Louis. Also a cabinet factory. G.B. donated nearly all money to build church and set up "Sabbath school" and supply 300 books for library.
Page 76-77 Very popular when visiting St. Louis (1855) many acquaintances.
Page 80 Oct. 21, 1855 letter to mother. Talked about living in unfinished hotel. Reported first death in Castle Rock. Sawyer’s daughter. Affected by sadness of event, dreary day and rained at newly established cemetery.
Page 83 July 10, 1856 letter to mother. Gave 300 books and melodeon to help start Sabbath school
Page 84 Sep. 5, 1856 journal entry. Auction sale of lots for Castle Rock. Spent time in St. Louis, between visits to Castle Rock and Jefferson City. Attended Baptist Church in St. Louis. Donated $150 and $500 to construction.
Page 90 Late Spring 1855. Bedridden for 3 weeks and cared for by friends.
Page 102 On Behalf of firm bought 3000 acres of land in Washington County in Potosi, MO.
Page 103 July 4, 1857. Spoke to citizens of West Phalia, MO. for Independence Day.
Page 110 Complained of the evils of his time. "Fast living, young Americanism, and extravagance in every form is the peculiar evil of our time."
Page 111 Mar. 28, 1858 Letter to sister. Sends sympathy for her loss of her youngest child (Mrs. Daggett). Two children mentioned, "Johnny & Amelia".
Page 134 Sept. 18, 1858 From Journal entry for Sept. 26, 1858, Became ill, thought it was "cholera" – had cramps, limbs & stomach "chilling". Treated with brandy, camphor & pepper, applied mustard. Recovered after 2 weeks.
Page 144 April 10, 1859; Letter. Visited mill in Potosi, MO. States mill can produce an average of 12,000 feet of lumber in 12 hours. Mentions arrival "last Friday" of brother and son "Looly". Very attached to Nephew.
Page 146 July 1859. Went to Chicago on business & heard 2 lectures: "Henry Clay" & "Europe from the 15th-18th century." Same lecturer did both lectures, but name wasn’t mentioned.
Page 147 Aug. 18, 1859 letter to parents. Despite all of his work, doesn’t feel he accomplished anything. Wonders abut bachelor status, but writes it off to his work and frequent ill health. Talks of pursuing his studies. Knows French, "know something of Spanish, German, Italian and some Latin. Wants to visit Europe and would like to "pursue some literary avocation." "Life Long Dream". Mentions brother being in St. Petersburg, Russia and would like to visit.
Page 150 Aug. 26, 1859 "I have long desired to be of some use to my country; in fact, this must have been an idea of my childhood, for when I reached years of maturity it seemed an old possession, and although it has never assumed any positive shape, yet there have been many times in my life when it has stood boldly forth.
When our communities are agitated by the election of prominent officers of government, there is a lack of real patriotism exhibited in the people. Men of talent, good sense, honor, and reputation quietly fold their hands, and refuse to accept any other duty than that of simply casting their votes; they will have nothing to do with public offices, politics, etc.
That there is some good reason for such a course by high-minded men, is true, and alarmingly true; but the fault lies at the door of this same class of men. It took the highest order of talent, the most profound intelligence, the loftiest principle, the most self-sacrificing, conscientious lives, to form our government, and unless it is maintained by the same means, it will, like the proud nations of former times, crumble to atoms.
That men of no principle, no integrity, no character, no reputation but that of ambitious schemers, have by dishonorable means, in many instances, reached those heights of power which should be occupied only by the greatest minds, augurs no good to our nation The reckoning time will surely come for this wrong, and we may be called to pay a heavy penalty for it as a people.
If I ever acquire the education I have so long desired, and if to education is added experience, they shall be devoted in some way to the benefit of my country"
Page 151 Sept. 25, 1859 journal entry finished a historical course of reading. Gives credit to parents for his love of history from biblical tales. Again mentions he is depressed for not yet accomplishing anything.
Page 161 Dec. 1859 journal entry. Entry quite long about his destiny regarding love. Believed he would always be "alone." Met someone and began to develop relationship. Something went wrong and they broke up. He said "Love and I have sworn eternal warfare." (page 173) Active business and studies probably kept relationship distant. He still held out a glimmer of hope. "I will bury it (his sorrow) deep, deep! And I will go out into the world with my usual calmness. None shall know save one, of that deep grave. But, I will wait in patience, I will call upon endurance; and maybe, in after years, flowers will spring from this grave, and shed a fragrance over my future lot." (page 174)
Page 176 Near end of 1859 or beginning of 1860, he began to move his operations to Castle Rock. Wanted to reduce business activities to have opportunity to travel and study in Europe. Letter of Mar. 28, 1860 to sister discusses his home at Castle Rock and notes having a dog named "Zip."
Page 180 Letters from friend in Berlin, Germany, indicate plans for George to go to Germany. As letters progress, events and business concerns keep him in MO. and expressed to sister his deep disappointment.
Page 184 Supported and campaigned for Stephen Douglas in election of 1860.
Page 190 September 1860. Took trip home and noted that father was 66 years old.
Page 191 Sister (Mary Amelia Stone?) lived in Attleborough, Mass.
Page 192 Sutton, Mass. Was location in 1840 where they lived and father preached.
Page 200 May 8, 1861 Noted that he was accused by people in country of being abolitionist due to his Eastern background and his mild feeling on subject. He indicates this early that he would fight for the Union if it came to war. He described to his sister how it is in a divided society such as was in MO. at the time. His statements reflect the popular thoughts of the north.
Page 202 "I have taken my position for the Union and as a consequence for the government, for between a good government badly administrated and the uncertainty attendant on forming a new one upon its dismemberment, I would not hesitate to chose." He voiced a more realistic opinion of the sacrifices that would be needed and expected a long war.
Page 207 August 11, 1861 journal entry. Comments and laments news of death of Nathaniel Lyon at Wilson’s Creek. Mentioned having met him before he went to Springfield. Has made decision to raise a "battalion of 3 companies of men" for the Union army.
Began raising his regiment in hostile conditions. Former business associates and friends began to condemn him for his actions.
Established his HQ at Castle Rock and then after a few weeks moved to Medora, MO. to keep track of recruits.
Lost many friends because of his efforts.
He drove himself physically and mentally to recruit as he went from town to town. Noted that he recruited in Linn County and gave speech that was recorded on Page 217.
Page 221 November 2, 1861 letter to sister. Said he met the Major General of the state (Halleck) and was impressed. Expressed concern that his regiment wouldn’t be finished in time to retain its identity. Partial units were being consolidated into full regiments and handed over to the state for militia service.
Page 224 Jan. 11, 1862 letter from the Planter House, St. Louis. He’s awaiting his staff to assembly. List them: John H. Holman, Lieutenant-Colonel L. H. Koninszesky, Major; Dr. Prout, Surgeon; Dr. Bryan, Assistant Surgeon; A. H. Van Buren, Adjutant; not yet appointed chaplain and quartermaster. His regiment was consolidated together on Dec. 30, 1861 and expected them to be moved to Franklin, the junction of the Pacific and Southwestern Railroad, 35 miles away.
Page 226 Sister noted that the regiment remained in the state until Feb. 16, 1862, when they were ordered to Fort Donnelson, but due to Grant’s victory there, were directed to Bird’s Point, from there to Charlestown, MO, and then to Bertrand and then New Madrid.
Page 227 March 13, 1862 letter from New Madrid. Had hard march of 38 miles in two days to reach New Madrid only to find that tents, baggage and food were not available. Had to sleep on the ground in clothes during rain. Had a reoccurrence of health problems that came upon him when his regiment was at Bird’s Point. Mentions the sound of guns in the distance might mean fighting on the following day. Feels confident that he will be able to do his duty. Mentions that his regiment is attached to General Schuyler Hamilton’s division. Knows Hamilton and feels that he will be fairly treated. Turns over a bill of sale for his library and household furniture to his sister in case he is wounded or killed. His brother L…. visited with him when he was at Bertrand.
Page 228 April 23, 1862 letter from Hamburg, Tenn. Said that after the siege of New Madrid, crossed river at Tiptonville. Present at the surrender of Island No. 10. Went to Fort Pillow and proceeded to Hamburg, Tennessee. Mentions being in command of a demi-brigade with the 5th Iowa, 57th Indiana and the 26th.
Page 229 Sister tells story of Boomer’s horse. It was known to be a very handsome animal. Boomer loaned it to his chaplain to visit a sick officer. Horse and rider were captured. Boomer heard from chaplain, who was doing well, but never heard about horse "The chaplain I have heard from, ---he is in good hands, ---but there still remains an uncomfortable silence about the horse." About 6 months later, he heard from a Confederate general who had seen Boomer riding his horse and wanted to capture it. The General thanked him for his splendid animal.
Page 230 July 7, 1862 letter written in field along road between Rienzi and Jacinto (2 miles east of Rienzi), Mississippi. Have not had tents or baggage since June 26th and been marching for 50 miles to near Holly Springs, Miss. About 20 miles south of Corinth, Miss. Makes the observation that due to the reverses in the Eastern theatre and the strength of the enemy in the west, expects a long war.
Page 233 Aug. 10, 1862 letter to sister. Mentions recovering health and will join regiment at Jacinto, Mississippi, 12 miles southwest of his location on the following day. Guns from First Missouri Light Artillery and Second Kansas are saluting the anniversary of Wilson’s Creek Battle, which helped convince him to enter the army.
Page 233 Aug. 13, 1862 letter to sister, whose first initial is "N" from Jacinto, Miss. Returned to regiment on previous day. Warns his nephew, Johnny, not to enter the service to soon as he needs to be a little more mature physically and mentally.
Page 237 Was wounded at the battle of Iuka. Wasn’t bitter at being wounded, but felt it was a necessary sacrifice for his country. During recuperation, expressed his belief that the war was going to be a long and bitter contest. Didn’t think that the south would be subdued until their institutions were dramatically changed.
Page 238 While recovering, went north to visit family and then went to St. Louis with a side trip to Castle Rock. Observed that St. Louis was more Unionist than when he first left for the army when many of his friends and associates rejected him for his commitment to the Union. Was warmly welcomed in Castle Rock. Returned to command on November 11.
Page 240 Dec. 8, 1862 letter written in Oxford, MO. to sister. Wrote about possibility of promotion for his efforts at Iuka. Was against the idea of actively pursuing promotions. When he went back to regiment, was put in command of a brigade and noted that all but 2 regiments in the division applied for assignment to his brigade. Said that he was put in command of General Schuyler Hamilton’s division (excluding the 59th Indiana) while at New Madrid.
Page 242 Jan. 8, 1863 letter to sister. On the Memphis and Charleston railroad, fourteen miles from the city, guarding the line. Division escorted train of 500 wagons and thought it "disagreeable service".
Page 242 Early Feb. 1863. Made last visit to St. Louis.
Page 243 March 7, 1863 letter to sister while at Grand Lake Landing, 1.5 miles north of Louisiana state border and 20 miles north of Lake Providence. In attempt to skirt Vicksburg by traveling through lakes into Bayou Mascon, then to Red River and finally to the Mississippi above Port Hudson. Said that venture was a failure and the next step was to try the Yazoo Pass.
Page 244 March 14 at Helena, Arkansas. Left in charge of the 2nd and 3rd brigades to procure transportation, while General Quimby left with 1st brigade.
Page 244 March22, 1863 on flag ship steamer, W. W. Crawford, at Landing, 5 miles below Helena, Arkansas. Awaiting to embark for trip to Yazoo Pass. Doesn’t have any confidence that mission will succeed. Expressed opinion to Grant and McPherson.
Page 246 April 11, 1863 letter to sister from on board Head Quarters Steamer Crawford at Helena, Arkansas. Talked about attempt to get around Vicksburg by going up Yazoo river. Sniped at from river banks and expressed frustration about aborted effort. During reconnoitering trip, talked to enemy pickets and found out that they were from same units that the 26th fought at Corinth and Iuka. Was slightly injured when tree limb burst through pilot house window of Belle Creole and cut his right eye lid "badly." Sent home apple blossom from trip.
Page 248 April 20, 1863 letter to sister from Millikin’s Bend. Said they were 20 miles from Vicksburg by water. Brigade encamped inside levee by the river. Grant’s HQ on right of his line. Said Colonel P… working on supply canal to provision army below Vicksburg. Mentioned McClernand’s Corps at Carthage. Describes how 8 gunboats and 2 steamboats ran past Vicksburg in the night as enemy lit bonfires to light up river and shells were fired. Steamboats were loaded with cotton for protection. Moral lifted as a result of positive efforts of army and thinking that prospects brightening.
Page 249 May 6, 1863 letter to sister from camp on Big Black River, Miss. In high spirits after visit by a Major Brown. Marched from Milikins Bend on April 25, 120 miles to Big Black River, Miss. Has great confidence in Grant and describes his movement of the army across the Mississippi River as one of the most masterly movements in history. Expecting a big fight and confident of victory.
Page 250 May 12, 1863 letter to sister from bivouac five miles east of Utica, on Raymond Road in Mississippi. Writing at 5:00 a.m. while waiting to march. Said that the air is damp, chilly and smoky, which is affecting him by causing a soreness in his right lung and throat. Comments about the bad news from the east, probably the battle of Chancellorsville. Is discouraged about the news and feels that it will take a long time before things can get better in that theater.
Page 251 May 17, Sunday evening, 1863. Last letter before death entered here in total.
"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 divisions of ours, and about the same for 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 (Johnston), 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 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; 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 in 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 mememtoes 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. Tomorrow 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.
George Boardman Boomer
George Boardman Boomer's short adult career was devoted to pioneer entrepreneur efforts in developing Missouri’s natural resources, although these were actually a by-product of his principal business interests in Missouri. As a colonel at the head of his own Missouri-recruited regiment during the Civi.1 War, he gave his life for the Union cause at Vicksburg.
Born in Sutton, Worcester County, Massachusetts, on July 26, 1832, Boomer came to Missouri in February, 1852. Although not quite twenty years old, he was responsible for promoting the bridge building interests of the Chicago engineering firm of Stone and Boomer in the extension of the railroad across the state. This newly founded firm held the patent rights to the famed Howe Truss, an important ingredient of railroad construction. To supply the lumber necessary for these bridge trusses, Boomer acquired timber land in 1854 on the Osage River, and established near its mouth the industrial community of Castle Rock (or Boomer’s Mills), now disappeared. In 1856-57 he began similar timber and lead developments in Washington County, with a mill at Potosi, but his concern with these enterprises was cut short by the Civil War.
.During the 1860 presidential campaign Boomer's Yankee background determined his stand with the Democrat Stephen A. Douglas. With the subsequent outbreak of hostilities he raised a Missouri regiment, not without difficulty, to defend the Union cause. He led this regiment (the 26th Missouri Volunteers) into a host of minor skirmishes within the state at the beginning of the war before he was wounded at Iuka, Mississippi in September, 1862. He soon returned to action at the head of General Schuyler Hamilton's former brigade... (3rd Brigade, 7th Division, 17th Army), and he was killed while leading these troops in the unfulfilled assault on Vicksburg on May 22, 1863. By request of provisional Governor Gamble, Boomer received a posthumous promotion to Brigadier-General from President Lincoln for "gallant conduct".
James F. O'Gorman
Based upon Frank F. Fowle, Memoir of General George Boardman Boomer Bridge Builder and Soldier", an unpublished typescript "Compiled From Private Sources For The Engineering History Division Of The Western Society Of Engineers", no date.