1863: James Monroe Bosworth to George Alvah Bosworth

How Monroe might have looked
How Monroe might have looked

This letter was written by 20 year-old Pvt. James Monroe Bosworth (1843-1909) of Co. L, 15th Illinois Cavalry (formerly Ford’s Independent Cavalry). Monroe was the son of Carr Winter Bosworth (1813-1901) and Laura P. Prescott (1818-1872) of Manlius, Illinois. He married Amelia A. Lewis (1840-1919) in 1865.

Monroe was taken prisoner in the Battle of Hatchie’s Bridge, near Corinth, Mississippi, was paroled and later exchanged; detached from his company while in camp at Helena, Arkansas, for duty in the Government Printing Office at that post; discharged with his company July  29, 1865; married in Morris, Illinois on October 1865, to Amelia A. Lewis (1840-1919) of Pavilion, N. Y., daughter of Denby and Mary (Woodruff) Lewis. They resided (1904) near Miller, Illinois, where Mr. Bosworth was a farmer and in politics a Republican; in religion a Baptist.

Monroe wrote the letter to his uncle, George Alvah Bosworth (1825-1904) of La Salle, Illinois.

Service of Ford’s Independent Cavalry Company and 15th Illinois Cavalry:

Organized at Ottawa, Illinois with the 53rd Illinois Infantry, January 1, 1862. Duty in District of Columbus, Ky., till September, 1862, and in District of Corinth, Miss., till December. Action at Davis’ Bridge, Hatchie River, September 25, 1862. Battle of Corinth October 3-4. Pursuit to Hatchie River October 5-12. At Corinth till December. Raid from Corinth to Tupelo, on Mobile and Ohio R. R., December 13-19. Assigned to 15th Illinois Cavalry as Company “L.” December 25, 1862. Ordered to Helena, Ark. Post and garrison duty at Helena till January, 1865. Expedition from Helena up White River February 4-8, 1864. (Detachment.) Expedition up White River February 20-26. Wallace’s Ferry, Big Creek, July 26. Lamb’s Plantation, near Helena, August 12 (Detachment). Scout to Mt. Vernon August 22-25. Expedition up White River August 29-September 3 (Detachment). Kendall’s Grist Mill September 3 (Detachment). Non-Veterans mustered out August 25, 1864. Veterans and Recruits consolidated to a Battalion, and consolidated with 10th Illinois Cavalry January 26, 1865.


Helena, Arkansas
December 20th 1863

My dear Uncle, Aunt & Coz’s,

I received your welcome letter in due time and now seat myself on this pleasant Sabbath afternoon for the purpose of answering it. I am well today and hope this will find you all the same.

This is a very fine day and it’s all quiet on the Mississippi. The weather is very pleasant — just cool enough to need coats on, but at night it freezes pretty hard and has for 3 or four nights.

There has nothing new happened of late excepting the last scout and one that we caught 13 Rebels, 4 commissioned officers. [Cpl.] George Lewis came very near losing his life too. He was riding alongside of a prisoner bringing him into our camp where we staid overnight and the prisoner had a pistol concealed about his coat somewhere and as George asked him where he got a bag of salt that he had, if he did not get it at Bonairs [?], and he said no, and just as he said no, he pulled out the pistol and held it right in George’s face and fired. The ball passed through the rim and crown of George’s hat and just grazed his forehead, filling his eyes full of powder so that he could not see and the prisoner got away. George was not hurt at all — only a slight bruise on the head and the powder in his eyes. Don’t you think it was a very narrow escape? I do.

I have not had a letter from home in two weeks. I heard that the money that I had sent though had got there all right.

I like soldiering a great deal better than I did a year ago now, and think I shall still keep liking it. This regiment has got an order to recruit as a Veteran Regiment and Lieut. [Cyrus] Ebersol of Co. A is to be the recruiting officer. I don’t think I shall enlist under the officers that we have at present. If Capt. [William] Ford would get up a battalion or regiment, I don’t know but what I should join it. I don’t care to stay more than my three years and if I should enlist for a veteran, I should have to stay three years after this three years are up. I don’t think though that I shall have to stay any longer than this company does.

Uncle George, you know when we enlisted last fall that we were enlisted for 3 years or for the war unless sooner discharged. Now do you think we will have to stay more than three years if the war does not close by that time? I don’t much think we will. This regiment or battalion will be mustered out next August, I expect — that is, four companies of it. The rest of the companies are all going out tonight with three days rations ad I expect we will have to stay in and stand picket. I do like to go out so as to get some chickens & pigs for Christmas.

How and where do all of you expect to spend your Christmas? I don’t expect to have any.

The boys are all well and send their respects. Nick has got well enough to scout with us now.

I got a letter from Billy yesterday. He was well and all the folks. I can’t think of anything more to write. There are no news. No Rebel force within a hundred miles of here and no danger of an attack on this post. You will please write very soon and write all the news. Hoping to hear from you soon, I will subscribe myself as ever, your nephew, — Monroe

Love to all!

How do the little Coz’s get along — and little Florence and Alvah? Tell them all to be good, good, — Monroe



2 thoughts on “1863: James Monroe Bosworth to George Alvah Bosworth

  1. This regiment has got an order to recruit. It has a Veteran Regiment SHOULD BE This regiment has got an order to recruit as a Veteran Regiment…

    Thanks for posting this letter from my ancestor Austin Osman’s company whose war service>. I’m writing up his war service for the family.

    Should citation be your collection? Presently just am using the web page address.

    Stephen Osman


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