Tracing History
by Greg Dely

Those of us interested in the Civil War or in fact any conflict of history within our country in the past may be compelled to research further with those curiosities that interest us. Of course, reenacting or researching the Civil War may lead us to a variety of interests. Some of these may include researching a better first person impression, digging deeper into the “Whys” a conflict developed, or merely collecting artifacts from the period.

To stage this story which I feel I am at the middle of my research, I apologize, but several instances within the story I am merely speculating – hopefully these several instances will be substantiated. These several occasions which will be identified, will be verified hopefully in a month or so as time and resources permit.

For some time, yes I collected mainstream Civil War artifacts. The usual buckle, muskets or the like which presented themselves at a variety of resources. A little more then a year ago though, my thoughts turned to collecting a personal item of the common soldier- but an item that could be specifically traced to him and follow him in a way that no other artifact could accomplish….. to tell a story. With that, my focus centered on the pocket Bible with any notable inscription of that soldier- and to limit the collection, only pocket bibles and of course, only from the Union! How personal would we then conclude that a soldier carried that Bible throughout his enlistment and to what engagements was the Bible at?

Again, to stage the research of one bible, I must turn to the history of the 24th Regiment, Maine Infantry (9 months, 1862-3):

Organized at Augusta and mustered in for nine months service October 16, 1862. Left state for New York City October 29th. Duty at East New York until January 12, 1863. Moved to Fortress Monroe, VA., then to New Orleans, LA., January 12 – February 14. Attached to Brigade, 2nd Division, 19th Army Corps, Dept. of the Gulf, to July 1863.

Service- Moved to Bonnet Carre, LA., February 26, 1863, and duty there until May. Expedition to Ponchatoula and Amite River March 21 – 30. Capture of Ponchatoula March 24. Amite River March 28. Expedition to Amite River May 7 –21. Civiques Ferry May 10. Advance on Port Hudson May 21 – 24. Siege of Port Hudson May 24 – July 8. Assaults on Port Hudson, May 27 and June 14. Surrender of Port Hudson July 8. Ordered home July 24, and mustered out at Augusta, ME. August 25, 1863, expiration of term.

Regiment lost during service, 1 enlisted man killed and 5 officers and 185 enlisted men died by disease. Total 191.

One such Bible I possess is that which I was the high bidder on ebay auctions… yes, ebay. The Bible which was won is identified in pencil on the second page as Sanford Boggs, 24th Maine, November 1862. On the inside front cover, a label is adhered with a banner stating “To The Defenders of Their Country”, presented by the New York Bible Society, November 1862. Above the banner, an American Flag is presented. The Bible has pencil tic marks at various scriptures throughout. After about an hour of winning the auction (with my email address as the winning bidder displayed to the auction) I received an email from Warren, Maine. The person addressing me identified herself as being involved with the Warren Historical Society. After talking to her, she suggested I speak to another member of the Society, who also is a genealogist. My discovery now begins that the seller of the Boggs Bible was from an antique store about 15 miles north of Warren – which the Bible was from an estate sale. Warren, what may appear to be a small town is about 5 miles from the Atlantic Ocean and about 25 miles from Augusta. The historian/genealogist forwarded me a copy of the 1850 census report of Warren where the Boggs family is recorded. Two members of the family are noted in the census as being farmers, with Sanford recorded as being 14 years of age – this placing his year of birth of 1836.

The search continued in a variety of ways to find out the military history of Boggs. One such resource which yielded a wealth of information was from the National Archives in Washington D.C. Although the wait for records was almost 4 months, the information sent was the important key to a later discovery. Records indicated that Boggs, a private, joined for duty and enrolled on September 10, 1862 in Warren for the period of 9 months. The company muster in roll indicates the muster in date of October 13, 1862 in Augusta, Maine. Multiple monthly copies of the muster roll were provided by the Archive but in the May/June 1863 muster roll, Sanford is noted as “Died- August 3, 63 at Chicago, Illinois”. A hospital muster roll provided by the Marine Hospital in Chicago (which was located about one block north of the now Prudential Building and burned in the Chicago fire) was also enclosed. The muster out sheet of Company B, 24th Maine, August 25, 1863 notes Boggs as “left in hospital at Chicago, Illinois, August 3, 1863 while enroute for Augusta, Maine.” The muster out sheet for Boggs noted that $5.60 was due the soldier. Also enclosed from the Archive was the casualty sheet of Boggs (death certificate) noting the particulars by Surgeon R. Isham of the Marine Hospital.

After putting the project aside for several months, the project was picked up again for more research, which began around the beginning of February 2002. Knowing Boggs died in Chicago, I concluded that the possibilities were very great that somewhere he was interred somewhere around Chicago and most likely not far from the Marine Hospital (and how would deceased be transported?) Knowing this, the curiosity continued with finding one such source in Chicago which had history of the Marine Hospital, the National Surgeons Museum. But after finding a book on the hospital, the document would not help since no clues were revealed where soldiers were interred. Researching on the Internet led me to one such vital document which is the “Index To The Roll Of Honor”, Cook County, Illinois. The book was compiled and published in 1922 and is a list of soldiers, sailors and marines who fought in American wars from the Revolutionary War through WWI and are buried in Cook County, Illinois. With this, my library district searched on the location of this book and two were listed in the district. With anticipation, one library was visited and sure enough, Sanford Boggs was listed, date of death was also listed as August 3, 1863 – the same as my records indicated.

At this juncture, all the pieces of the puzzle were falling into place very fast…but, with an added twist. Knowing the location of death and geographical area where he may be buried led to three cemeteries. All in Chicago, Oakwood, Graceland and Rosehill were chosen believing that distance was a factor in the transport of those deceased soldiers. After only several telephone calls and one hit on the Internet, Boggs was found at Rosehill Cemetery on the near north side of Chicago and 7 miles from the original location of the Marine Hospital. When calling Rosehill as well as seeing the name and unit on the Internet, Sanford Boggs was listed as Sandford (“d” added) as well as listed with being with the 15th New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry. My continuing search then veered to the 15th New Hampshire. After visiting multiple Internet sites on the 15th New Hampshire rolls, not one Boggs was found. Boggs was not listed in any role whatsoever nor did he enroll from another state. Lastly, I returned to the library where I found an additional genealogy book with a more recent author (1995) which is also titled as “Index To The Roll Of Honor”, but again listed Sanford as San(d)ford Boggs. Of interest in the forward section of the 1995 book by William and Martha Reamy was a statement which may offer a conclusion in both the name spelling as well as the designation of being with the 15th New Hampshire. From page 12 through 13, a discussion leads to confusion of burials such as the War Department not marking graves or similar problems with recording. The paragraph states “A similar problem occurs with the Rosehill Cemetery near Chicago. Volume 9 of the series lists 159 burials at Chicago. Volume 18 adds 317 burials in Chicago’s Rosehill Cemetary. Although several reports state that the lots in Rosehill Cemetery were owned by the Federal government, today the VA has no record of burials in the cemetery because the graves were not marked when the graves in national cemeteries were”. So, the data points to multiple instances of Boggs being with the 24th Maine but no instance of record where he was a member of the 15th New Hampshire. The similarities may be also that the 15th New Hampshire was also only involved in the Siege of Port Hudson, as well as mustering out dates were only days apart from the 24th Maine and 15th New Hampshire.

On Thursday, February 7, 2002 I then visited Rosehill. Driving to the cemetery my thoughts were, why did I complete this journey almost full circle in tracing down this soldier? From the point of his departure from Maine, to Port Hudson and speculating rail travel through Chicago (where he died) to his unit completing the journey to muster out 22 days later in Augusta. The Bible completed the journey back to Maine, then returned back to Chicago 139 years later being 30 miles from Boggs’ final resting point! Turning onto Rosehill Drive from Ashland Avenue and approaching the ornate gate structure of Rosehill was a feeling which is very hard to describe.

As one enters the front gate of Rosehill, the Civil War section of the cemetery is at the immediate front, most likely being used first as the cemetery is the oldest in Chicago dating to 1859. A representative of the cemetery escorted me to the site of Boggs and later the historian of the cemetery met me as well. Within the section and very close to Boggs, 6 soldiers of the 24th Maine and several of the 15th New Hampshire are also interred as well as Boggs, and all listed on the tombstones as August 3, 6 or 7, 1863. The historian confirmed that date of death was not recorded in those days, but rather, date of burial. This may also lead to the confusion stated earlier. Another interesting point, is the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad tracks/right of way is about 50 feet from the front gates of Rosehill. The rail line leads almost to where the old Marine Hospital was located. The historian agreed that most likely that still existing railroad right of way may be in fact the railroad which transported those for burial; of course this is still to be confirmed.

In the final conclusion, I am more then sure that this is the soldier I was looking for. Although I will check several more resources for an undoubted conclusion (in my mind), my speculation is that somehow the records were annotated incorrectly when Boggs died in Chicago at age 26.

As mentioned earlier, this is the middle of my research. To find out the end, well, see me around the campfire this summer…

Greg Dely at the grave of San(d)ford Boggs; Rosehill Cemetery, Chicago.

The grave of San(d)ford Boggs; Rosehill Cemetery, Chicago.


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