The Battling Boger Boys

Tilghman Boger’s August 1862 enlistment paperwork, 47th Pennsylvana Volunteers (excerpt, public domain).

And I, Tilghman Boger, do solemnly swear, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the United States of America, and that I will serve them honestly and faithfully against all their enemies or opposers [sic] whomsoever; and that I will observe and obey the orders of the President of the United States, and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to the Rules and Articles of War.

Excerpt from Tilghman Boger’s Oath of Enlistment (1862)

 

Alternate Spellings of Surname: Boger, Bogert, Bowger

 

The young man who uttered the words of that oath above more than 150 years ago was one of the more than 425,000 Pennsylvanians who left the comforts of home in order to preserve America’s union. Like his younger brothers who also joined this fight, he was not a heroic figure cut from the same fictional cloth as an Achilles or Sir Galahad, but was simply a twenty-something, living, breathing, average man working to better his family’s quality of life when his nation descended into the darkness of disunion.

Formative Years

Born on 23 March 1837 in Macungie, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, Tilghman Boger was a son of Pennsylvania natives, Solomon Boger (1806-1896) and Caroline (Kehm) Boger, and the brother of fellow U.S. Civil War veterans William Francis Boger (1839-1908) and Benjamin Boger (1841-1914).

Throughout the 1840s and 1850s, he and his family continued to reside in Lower Macungie Township, Lehigh County, where patriarch Solomon Boger was employed as a laborer. More siblings followed as the years rolled on and boys turned to teenagers.

Still residing in Lower Macungie Township with his parents in 1860, Tilghman Boger was employed as a tobacconist, according to federal census records, which also identified the family’s post office location as Breinigsville. His Civil War military records would later confirm that he was a cigar maker during this time (although 1864 muster rolls indicated that he had also been employed as a miller sometime prior to the start of the U.S. Civil War). Meanwhile, brothers William and Benjamin also helped to support the family on their respective wages as a farm laborer and apprentice tailor while sister Magdalena worked as a servant for a local and family. Their younger brother Philip was evidently still in school since the census taker listed no occupation for him.

Civil War Military Service

George Junker announces formation of a company of German/German-American soldiers for Civil War service. Der Lecha Caunty Patriot (7 August 1861, public domain).

The first two of three battling Boger boys to enroll for Civil War military service, Tilghman and William Francis Boger were described as residents of Longswamp Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania at the time of their respective enlistments.

A 22-year-old shoemaker at the time of his enrollment in Berks County on 21 August 1861, William Francis Boger officially mustered in for duty at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on 17 September 1861 as “Francis Boger,” a Private with Company K of the 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. Military records at the time described him as being 5’5-½” tall with brown eyes and a light complexion.

* Note: Company K was raised with the intent of being an “all-German company” composed of native-born and naturalized German-Americans, as well as relatively recent immigrants from Germany. Its founder, George Junker, was a 26-year-old German native who lived and worked as a tombstone carver in Allentown, Lehigh County. Der Lecha Caunty Patriot, the Lehigh Valley’s Allentown-based, German language newspaper, praised him for his initiative in its 7 August 1861 edition. Roughly translated, the announcement read:

It’s good to hear, that Sergeant Junker, of this city, is bringing a new German company of the Lehigh Valley along under the terms of recruitment for the duration of the war. It will be particularly sweet to him if such Germans already here or abroad, who have served as soldiers, sign up immediately for him, and join the company. It can be noted that Sergeant Junker, who recently returned from the scene of the war, has done important services for the Union side in this time, and has all capabilities that are necessary for a Captain. We wish him the best luck for his company.

Junker was subsequently assigned to command the men he recruited as Captain of Company K.

Camp Curtin (Harper’s Weekly, 1861, public domain).

Following a brief training period in light infantry tactics at Camp Curtin, the men of Company K and their fellow 47th Pennsylvanians were transported by rail to Washington, D.C. Stationed roughly two miles from the White House, they pitched tents at “Camp Kalorama” on the Kalorama Heights near Georgetown beginning 21 September. The next day, Henry D. Wharton, a Musician with the regiment’s C Company, penned the following update to his hometown newspaper, the Sunbury American:

After a tedious ride we have, at last, safely arrived at the City of ‘magnificent distances.’ We left Harrisburg on Friday last at 1 o’clock A.M. and reached this camp yesterday (Saturday) at 4 P.M., as tired and worn out a sett [sic] of mortals as can possibly exist. On arriving at Washington we were marched to the ‘Soldiers Retreat,’ a building purposely erected for the benefit of the soldier, where every comfort is extended to him and the wants of the ‘inner man’ supplied.

After partaking of refreshments we were ordered into line and marched, about three miles, to this camp. So tired were the men, that on marching out, some gave out, and had to leave the ranks, but J. Boulton Young, our ‘little Zouave,’ stood it bravely, and acted like a veteran. So small a drummer is scarcely seen in the army, and on the march through Washington he was twice the recipient of three cheers.

We were reviewed by Gen. McClellan yesterday [21 September 1861] without our knowing it. All along the march we noticed a considerable number of officers, both mounted and on foot; the horse of one of the officers was so beautiful that he was noticed by the whole regiment, in fact, so wrapt [sic] up were they in the horse, the rider wasn’t noticed, and the boys were considerably mortified this morning on dis-covering they had missed the sight of, and the neglect of not saluting the soldier next in command to Gen. Scott.

Col. Good, who has command of our regiment, is an excellent man and a splendid soldier. He is a man of very few words, and is continually attending to his duties and the wants of the Regiment.

Our Regiment will now be put to hard work; such as drilling and the usual business of camp life, and the boys expect and hope an occasional ‘pop’ at the enemy.

Chain Bridge across the Potomac above Georgetown looking toward Virginia, 1861 (The Illustrated London News, public domain).

Acclimated somewhat to their new way of life, the soldiers of the 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry became part of the U.S. Army when they were officially mustered into federal service on 24 September. Three days later, the regiment was attached to Brigadier-General Isaac Stevens’ 3rd Brigade, which also included the 33rd, 49th and 79th New York regiments. By that afternoon, the 47th Pennsylvania was on the move again. Ordered onward by Brigadier-General Silas Casey, the Mississippi rifle-armed 47th Pennsylvania infantrymen marched behind their regimental band until reaching Camp Lyon, Maryland on the Potomac River’s eastern shore. At 5 p.m., they joined the 46th Pennsylvania in moving double-quick (165 steps per minute using 33-inch steps) across the “Chain Bridge” marked on federal maps, and continued on for roughly another mile before being ordered to make camp.

The next morning, they broke camp and moved again. Marching toward Falls Church, Virginia, they arrived at Camp Advance around dusk. There, about two miles from the bridge they had crossed a day earlier, they re-pitched their tents in a deep ravine near a new federal fort under construction (Fort Ethan Allen). They had completed a roughly eight-mile trek, were situated fairly close to General W. F. Smith’s headquarters, and were now part of the massive Army of the Potomac. Under Smith’s leadership, their regiment and brigade would help to defend the nation’s capital from the time of their September arrival through late January when they would be shipped south.

Once again, Company C Musician Henry Wharton recapped the regiment’s activities, noting, via his 29 September letter home to the Sunbury American, that the 47th had changed camps three times in three days:

On Friday last we left Camp Kalorama, and the same night encamped about one mile from the Chain Bridge on the opposite side of the Potomac from Washington. The next morning, Saturday, we were ordered to this Camp [Camp Advance near Fort Ethan Allen, Virginia], one and a half miles from the one we occupied the night previous. I should have mentioned that we halted on a high hill (on our march here) at the Chain Bridge, called Camp Lyon, but were immediately ordered on this side of the river. On the route from Kalorama we were for two hours exposed to the hardest rain I ever experienced. Whew, it was a whopper; but the fellows stood it well – not a murmur – and they waited in their wet clothes until nine o’clock at night for their supper. Our Camp adjoins that of the N.Y. 79th (Highlanders.)….

We had not been in this Camp more than six hours before our boys were supplied with twenty rounds of ball and cartridge, and ordered to march and meet the enemy; they were out all night and got back to Camp at nine o’clock this morning, without having a fight. They are now in their tents taking a snooze preparatory to another march this morning…. I don’t know how long the boys will be gone, but the orders are to cook two days’ rations and take it with them in their haversacks….

There was a nice little affair came off at Lavensville [sic], a few miles from here on Wednesday last; our troops surprised a party of rebels (much larger than our own.) killing ten, took a Major prisoner, and captured a large number of horses, sheep and cattle, besides a large quantity of corn and potatoes, and about ninety six tons of hay. A very nice day’s work. The boys are well, in fact, there is no sickness of any consequence at all in our Regiment….

Sometime during this phase of duty, as part of the 3rd Brigade, Private William Francis Boger and his fellow 47th Pennsylvanians were moved to a site they initially christened “Camp Big Chestnut” – so named for a large chestnut tree located nearby. The site would eventually become known to the Keystone Staters as “Camp Griffin,” and was situated roughly 10 miles from Washington, D.C.

On October 11, they marched in the Grand Review at Bailey’s Cross Roads. In a mid-October letter home, Captain John Peter Shindel Gobin (the leader of C Company who would be promoted in 1864 to lead the entire 47th Regiment) reported that companies D, A, C, F and I (the 47th Pennsylvania’s right wing) were ordered to picket duty after the left wing companies (B, E, G, H, and K) had been forced to return to camp by Confederate troops. In his letter of 13 October, Henry Wharton described their duties, as well as their new home:

The location of our camp is fine and the scenery would be splendid if the view was not obstructed by heavy thickets of pine and innumerable chesnut [sic] trees. The country around us is excellent for the Rebel scouts to display their bravery; that is, to lurk in the dense woods and pick off one of our unsuspecting pickets. Last night, however, they (the Rebels) calculated wide of their mark; some of the New York 33d boys were out on picket; some fourteen or fifteen shots were exchanged, when our side succeeded in bringing to the dust, (or rather mud,) an officer and two privates of the enemy’s mounted pickets. The officer was shot by a Lieutenant in Company H [?], of the 33d.

Our own boys have seen hard service since we have been on the ‘sacred soil.’ One day and night on picket, next day working on entrenchments at the Fort, (Ethan Allen.) another on guard, next on march and so on continually, but the hardest was on picket from last Thursday morning ‘till Saturday morning – all the time four miles from camp, and both of the nights the rain poured in torrents, so much so that their clothes were completely saturated with the rain. They stood it nobly – not one complaining; but from the size of their haversacks on their return, it is no wonder that they were satisfied and are so eager to go again tomorrow. I heard one of them say ‘there was such nice cabbage, sweet and Irish potatoes, turnips, &c., out where their duty called them, and then there was a likelihood of a Rebel sheep or young porker advancing over our lines and then he could take them as ‘contraband’ and have them for his own use.’ When they were out they saw about a dozen of the Rebel cavalry and would have had a bout with them, had it not been for…unlucky circumstance – one of the men caught the hammer of his rifle in the strap of his knapsack and caused his gun to fire; the Rebels heard the report and scampered in quick time….

On Friday morning, 22 October 1861, the 47th engaged in a Divisional Review, described by historian Lewis Schmidt as massing “about 10,000 infantry, 1000 cavalry, and twenty pieces of artillery all in one big open field.” Also around this time, Captain Junker issued his first Special Order:

I. 15 minutes after breakfast every tent will be cleaned. The commander of each tent will be held responsible for it, and every soldier must obey the orders of the tent commander. If not, said commanders will report such men to the orderly Sgt. who will report them to headquarters.

II. There will be company drills every two hours during the day, including regimental drills with knapsacks. No one will be excused except by order of the regimental surgeon. The hours will be fixed by the commander, and as it is not certain therefore, every man must stay in his quarter, being always ready for duty. The roll will be called each time and anyone in camp found not answering will be punished the first time with extra duty. The second with carrying the 75 lb. weights, increased to 95 lb. The talking in ranks is strictly forbidden. The first offense will be punished with carrying 80 lb. weights increased to 95 lbs. for four hours.

In his letter of 17 November, Henry Wharton revealed still more details about life at Camp Griffin:

This morning our brigade was out for inspection; arms, accoutrements [sic], clothing, knapsacks, etc, all were out through a thorough examination, and if I must say it myself, our company stood best, A No. 1, for cleanliness. We have a new commander to our Brigade, Brigadier General Brannen [sic], of the U.S. Army, and if looks are any criterion, I think he is a strict disciplinarian and one who will be as able to get his men out of danger as he is willing to lead them to battle….

The boys have plenty of work to do, such as piquet [sic] duty, standing guard, wood-chopping, police duty and day drill; but then they have the most substantial food; our rations consist of fresh beef (three times a week) pickled pork, pickled beef, smoked pork, fresh bread, daily, which is baked by our own bakers, the Quartermaster having procured portable ovens for that purpose, potatoes, split peas, beans, occasionally molasses and plenty of good coffee, so you see Uncle Sam supplies us plentifully….

A few nights ago our Company was out on piquet [sic]; it was a terrible night, raining very hard the whole night, and what made it worse, the boys had to stand well to their work and dare not leave to look for shelter. Some of them consider they are well paid for their exposure, as they captured two ancient muskets belonging to Secessia. One of them is of English manufacture, and the other has the Virginia militia mark on it. They are both in a dilapidated condition, but the boys hold them in high estimation as they are trophies from the enemy, and besides they were taken from the house of Mrs. Stewart, sister to the rebel Jackson who assassinated the lamented Ellsworth at Alexandria. The honorable lady, Mrs. Stewart, is now a prisoner at Washington and her house is the headquarters of the command of the piquets [sic]….

Since the success of the secret expedition, we have all kinds of rumors in camp. One is that our Brigade will be sent to the relief of Gen. Sherman, in South Carolina. The boys all desire it and the news in the ‘Press’ is correct, that a large force is to be sent there, I think their wish will be gratified….

Springfield rifle, 1861 model (public domain).

On 21 November, the 47th participated in a morning divisional headquarters review by Colonel Tilghman Good, followed by brigade and division drills all afternoon. According to Schmidt, “each man was supplied with ten blank cartridges.” Afterward, “Gen. Smith requested Gen. Brannan to inform Col. Good that the 47th was the best regiment in the whole division.”

As a reward for the regiment’s impressive performance that day – and in preparation for the even bigger adventures and honors that were yet to come, Brigadier-General Brannan ordered his staff to ensure that brand new Springfield rifles were obtained and distributed to every member of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers.

1862

U.S. Naval Academy Barracks and temporary hospital, Annapolis, Maryland (c. 1861-1865, public domain).

Next ordered to move from their Virginia encampment back to Maryland, Private William Francis Boger and his fellow 47th Pennsylvanians left Camp Griffin at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, 22 January 1862. Marching through deep mud with their equipment for three miles in order to reach the railroad station at Falls Church, they were then transported by rail to Alexandria, where they boarded the steamship City of Richmond. Upon reaching the Washington Arsenal, they were reequipped, and then marched off for dinner and rest at the Soldiers’ Retreat in Washington, D.C. The next afternoon, they hopped cars on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, and headed for Annapolis, Maryland. Arriving around 10 p.m., they were assigned quarters in barracks at the Naval Academy. They then spent that Friday through Monday (24-27 January 1862) loading their equipment and other supplies onto the steamship Oriental.

By the afternoon of Monday, 27 January, the 47th Pennsylvanians had commenced boarding – enlisted men first, followed by the officers. Ferried to the big steamship by smaller steamers, they then sailed away for the Deep South at 4 p.m. per the directive of Brigadier-General Brannan. They were headed for Florida which, despite its secession from the United States, was still strategically important due to the presence of Forts Taylor and Jefferson in Key West and the Dry Tortugas.

Woodcut depicting the harsh climate at Fort Taylor in Key West, Florida during the Civil War (U.S. Library of Congress, public domain).

By early February 1862, Private William Francis Boger and his fellow 47th Pennsylvanians were safely disembarking in Key West, Florida, where they were immediately assigned to garrison duty at Fort Taylor. Drilling daily in heavy artillery tactics, they strengthened fortifications, felled trees and built new roads. During the weekend of Friday, 14 February, they introduced their presence to local residents by parading through the streets of Key West. That Sunday, many also attended local church services.

Sometime during this phase of duty, several members of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers contracted typhoid fever, dysentery, and/or chronic diarrhea, and were confined to the post hospital at Fort Taylor. A fair number of those most ill died between March through May, and were laid to rest at the post cemetery. Still others deemed too ill to continued serving were honorably discharged on Surgeons’ Certificates of Disability.

From mid-June through July, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers were ordered to Hilton Head, South Carolina where they made camp before being housed in the Department of the South’s Beaufort District. Picket duties north of the 3rd Brigade’s camp were rotated among the 47th and other regiments present, putting soldiers at increased risk from sniper fire. On 5 July, Captain Junker and his K Company soldiers were among those assigned to picket details. In the face of these dangers, the men of the 47th “received the highest commendation from Generals Hunter and Brannan” for their “attention to duty, discipline and soldierly bearing,” according to historian Samuel P. Bates.

A Brother Becomes a Comrade

47th Pennsylvania Volunteers descriptive book entry for Tilghman Boger (1862, public domain).

While William Francis Boger was garrisoning Fort Taylor in Key West, Florida that Summer of 1862, his older brother Tilghman was making plans of his own to join the fight. Recruited for military service by Major William H. Gausler of the 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, Tilghman Boger enrolled at Allentown in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania on 4 August 1862, and then mustered in at Camp Curtin on 26 August as a Private with Company K, 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers.

Meanwhile, his younger brother, Private William Francis Boger was putting life and limb at risk as he and his fellow K Company comrades embarked on picket duty – stationed at “Barnwells” in the Department of the South’s Beaufort District from 20-31 August 1862 while other companies from the 47th Pennsylvania performed picket duty in the areas around Point Royal Ferry, South Carolina.

* Note: Private Tilghman Boger’s enlistment paperwork was signed and dated by Major William Gausler, and noted that this Boger brother was 5’4” tall with light hair, “grey eyes,” and a light complexion. (A Company Descriptive Book later described him as being a 22-year-old miller and native of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania who was 5’6-½ “ tall, and had brown hair, brown eyes, and a light complexion.)

Promised payment of a $100 bounty plus premium for enlisting, he was initially paid only $29 of that award. He then sailed aboard the U.S. steamer United States, connected with his unit from a recruiting depot on 13 October 1862, was assigned to Company K that same day, and sent to Fort Jefferson in Florida’s remote Dry Tortugas, where half of the 47th had been assigned to garrison duty. According to regimental historian Lewis Schmidt:

On Wednesday, September 3, the Allentown Democrat reported that Maj. Gausler, Capt. Harte, and Sgt. Dennis had recruited 54 men for the 47th. The group left Allentown on Monday, September 8, for Harrisburg, and would sail on the steamer United States from Fort Hamilton in New York Harbor on October 7, and arrive off Hilton Head on October.

Joining Tilghman Boger on this voyage were fellow 47th Pennsylvania recruits: Max Bergheimer, H. A. Blumer, John Deitzinger, Benjamin Gardner, William Hays, William P. Heller, Allen L., Joseph and William H. Kramer, John J. Lawall, Alfred C. Pretz, Allen J. Reinhard, Benjamin and Samuel H. Smith, Israel H. Troxell, D. H. Wannamacher, and Phaon Weldon (Allentown); Samuel H. Barnes, William H. Eichman, George W. Levers, Charles Shaffer, and Samuel Transue (Easton); Solomon J. Diehl, James Gaumer, Solomon Giltner [sic], and Allen P. Kemmerer (Lower Macungie); Gideon Moyer (Upper Macungie); Francis Everett, William Geisinger, and Levinus and Solomon Hillegas (Upper Milford); Benjamin Diehl and David F. Knerr (Lowhill); John W. Glick (South Whitehall); Richard Ambron (Upper Saucon); George Case (Berks County); Daniel Houser (Monroe County); Theodore Anderson (Philadelphia); W. H. Fowler and Elias Gould (New Jersey); and Daniel Froelich (an immigrant from Germany).

In fairly short order after his arrival, Tilghman Boger paid $4.00 (in November or December 1862) of his partial bounty payment to the fort’s sutler for clothing and equipment. He could not know it at the time, but he and his fellow new recruits were about to head into harm’s way with their more-experienced fellow 47th Pennsylvanians.

Saint John’s Bluff and the Battle of Pocotaligo

Union Navy’s base of operations, Mayport Mills (circa 1862, public domain).

During a return expedition to Florida beginning 30 September, the 47th joined with the 1st Connecticut Battery, 7th Connecticut Infantry, and part of the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry in assaulting Confederate forces at their heavily protected camp at Saint John’s Bluff overlooking the Saint John’s River. Trekking and skirmishing through roughly 25 miles of dense swampland and forests after disembarking from ships at Mayport Mills on 1 October, the 47th moved inland, where they captured artillery and ammunition stores (on 3 October) abandoned by Confederate forces due to the bluff’s bombardment by Union gunboats.

Union leaders then ordered the gunboats and army troops to press on. As they advanced up the river, they captured assorted watercraft. As part of this advance, Companies E and K of the 47th Pennsylvania were led by Captain Charles Yard on a special mission in conjunction with other Union troops during which they participated in the capture of Jacksonville, Florida on 5 October 1862.

Rebl steamer Gov. Milton taken by Union forces, Saint John’s River, Florida (Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, Florida Memory Project, State Archives of Florida, public domain).

A day later, while protected by the Union gunboat Hale, Companies E and K sailed 200 miles up river aboard the Union gunboat Darlington (formerly a Confederate steamer). Receiving word that the Gov. Milton, a Confederate steamer engaged in furnishing troops, ammunition and other supplies to Confederate Army units throughout the region, was reportedly docked near Hawkinsville, they seized it, and sailed it back down the Saint John’s River, moving it behind Union lines with the other ships captured on their journey.

Pocotaligo-Coosawhatchie Expedition, 21-23 October 1862 (Union Army map, public domain).

From 21-23 October, under the brigade and regimental commands of Colonel Tilghman Good and Lieutenant Colonel George Warren (“G. W.”) Alexander, the entire 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry next joined with other Union regiments to engage the heavily protected Confederate forces in and around Pocotaligo, South Carolina – including at Frampton’s Plantation and the Pocotaligo Bridge. Their mission was to destroy that bridge, which was a key piece of the South’s railroad infrastructure – one that Confederate leaders would not allow to be eliminated without a fight.

Harried by snipers en route to the Pocotaligo Bridge, the Union troops met resistance from yet another entrenched, heavily fortified Confederate battery which opened fire on them as they entered an open cotton field. Those headed toward higher ground at the Frampton Plantation fared no better as they encountered artillery and infantry fire from the surrounding forests. But the Union soldiers would not give in; grappling with the Confederates where they found them, they pursued the Rebels for four miles as the Confederate Army retreated to the bridge. There, the 47th Pennsylvanians relieved the 7th Connecticut, but were forced by depleted ammunition to withdraw after two hours of intense fighting.

Losses for the 47th Pennsylvania were significant. Captain Charles Mickley of G Company died where he fell from a gunshot wound to his head while K Company Captain George Junker and several of his enlisted men were mortally wounded by minie balls that peppered the air during the intense fighting near the Frampton Plantation. All three died the next day while being treated for their wounds at the Union Army’s General Hospital at Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Private Gottlieb Fiesel, whose skull was fractured by an exploding artillery shell, somehow survived his wound and resulting brain surgeries, but contracted meningitis and passed away at Hilton Head on 9 November 1862. Private Edward Frederick lasted a short while longer, but succumbed to the post-surgical complication of brain fever on 16 February 1863 at Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas, Florida. Others who were wounded ultimately rallied, including Privates Manoah J. Carl, Jacob F. Hertzog, Frederick Knell, Samuel Kunfer, Samuel Reinert, John Schimpf, William Schrank, and Paul Strauss. Meanwhile, the command vacancy created when Captain Junker fell in battle was filled immediately by 1st Lieutenant Charles W. Abbott.

On 23 October, the Boger brothers returned to Hilton Head with their fellow 47th Pennsylvanians. Ordered back to Key West on 15 November 1862, they would spend much of 1863 garrisoning federal installations in Florida as part of the U.S. Army’s 10th Corps, Department of the South.

* Note: Meanwhile, the third member of the Boger brother trio was making plans to enter the fray. After enrolling as a Private with Company A of the 176th Pennsylvania Volunteers on 7 November 1862 and mustering in at Philadelphia, Private Benjamin Boger was transported by rail to Washington, D.C. with his fellow 176th Pennsylvanians and then on to Suffolk, Virginia, where he and his new comrades received a month of basic training as part of the 7th Corps, U.S. Army, Department of Virginia. According to historian Samuel P. Bates, the regiment was then “selected to accompany General Foster in his expedition for the reinforcement of the army operating upon the defenses of Charleston. Proceeding to Newbern, North Carolina, it was incorporated with Foster’s forces, and on the 27th of January [1863] set sail, arriving at Hilton Head [South Carolina] on the 5th of February.”

1863

Fort Jefferson, Dry Torguas, Florida (interior, c. 1934, C.E. Peterson, photographer, U.S. Library of Congress, public domain).

As Christmas came and went and the New Year dawned, Privates Tilghman and William Francis Boger joined their fellow K Company soldiers and the men from the 47th Pennsylvania’s Companies D, F, and H in garrisoning Fort Jefferson in the accessible-only-by-boat Dry Tortugas area of Florida (under the command of Lieutenant Colonel George Warren Alexander) while the men from Companies A, B, C, E, G, and I continued to guard Key West’s Fort Taylor (under the Command of Colonel Tilghman Good).

To make life a bit more bearable in this remote outpost, Private Tilghman Boger continued to purchase supplies on credit from the post’s sutler, J. W. Robinson, incurring debts of $5.30 (January-February), $9.60 (March -April), $2.15 (May-June), and $6.15 (July-August). Muster roll records also documented that he was placed “on daily duty” in the officers mess during May and June 1863.

* Note: On 17 August 1863, brother Benjamin Boger was honorably discharged from the 176th Pennsylvania Volunteers, and sent home. According to historian Samuel P. Bates, the 176th Pennsylvania had been assigned only to “fatigue duty,” and provost (military police) tasks in North and South Carolina, and “[never] engaged in any hostile operations…. Soon after the expiration of its term of service, it returned north, and was sent to Harrisburg, where, on the 17th and 18th of August, it was mustered out of service.” More specifically, after the 176th Pennsylvania Volunteers were shipped to the Deep South, the regiment was attached to the 1st Brigade, 3rd Division of the U.S. Army’s 18th Corps, Department of North Carolina until February 1863, and was then transferred to the 18th Corps’ 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, and served with that unit in the Department of the South until April 1863 when they were transferred within the Department of the South to the U.S. Army’s 10th Corps, District of Beaufort, South Carolina. Remaining there until June 1863, they were then transferred to duty at Hilton Head and St. Helena Island, South Carolina, where they remained until July 1863.

Like many of his fellow 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers, Private Tilghman Boger fell ill during this phase of duty. According to his U.S. Civil War Pension records, he was listed on the regiment’s “sick report” from 5-6 and 13-16 November. Paperwork filed three decades later in support of his pension revealed that he had developed many of the same ailments that had plagued other members of the 47th during their time in Florida, including rheumatism (possibly due to their long marches over difficult terrain and in the Deep South’s harsh climate), urinary and kidney problems (likely related to the poor water quality at Forts Taylor and Jefferson), and dysentery and chronic diarrhea (likely a result of living in close, unsanitary conditions with other soldiers).

1864

Tilghman Boger’s 1864 re-enlistment entry, muster roll, 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers (public domain).

Remarkably, despite experiencing firsthand the horrors of intense combat and the sorrows of losing comrades to the unseen foes of typhoid and other diseases, the majority of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers chose to re-enlist when their three-year service terms were up, including Privates William Francis and Tilghman Boger who respectively re-upped with Company K at Fort Taylor in Key West, Florida on 5 January 1864 and 18 February 1864.

* Note: Military records documented that Private Tilghman Boger, a 5-6½” tall cigar maker with brown hair, brown eyes and a dark complexion, mustered out at Fort Taylor on 17 February “under the provisions of General Order No. 191 Series of 1863 from the War Department” in order to re-enlist there the following day (18 February 1864) as a Veteran Volunteer. He had last been paid on 31 August 1863; the federal government also owed him $8.09 for his clothing allowance – plus the $75 he was slated to receive for his re-enlistment, as well as an additional $4 for an unspecified reason. As with his enlistment, his re-enlistment paperwork was signed and dated by Major William H. Gausler.

Awarded a furlough for re-enlisting, Private Tilghman Boger was then documented by muster rolls as being “on furlough” or “absent on furlough” beginning 26 February, which continued through at least March 1864.

Meanwhile, on 25 February 1864, Private William Francis Boger and his fellow 47th Pennsylvanians set off for a phase of service in which their regiment would truly make history. Steaming for New Orleans aboard the Charles Thomas, they arrived at Algiers, Louisiana on 28 February. Transported next by train to Brashear City and then by steamer to Franklin via the Bayou Teche, the 47th joined the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division of the Department of the Gulf’s 19th Army Corps, becoming the only Pennsylvania regiment to serve in the Red River Campaign spearheaded by Union General Nathaniel P. Banks.

From 14-26 March, the 47th passed through New Iberia, Vermillionville, Opelousas, and Washington while en route to Alexandria and Natchitoches. Often short on food and water while slogging through an unbearably harsh climate in challenging terrain, the remaining members of the regiment encamped briefly at Pleasant Hill the night of 7 April before continuing on the next day.

19th U.S. Army Map, Phase 3, Battle of Sabine Cross Roads/Mansfield (8 April 1864, public domain).

Marching until mid-afternoon, Private William Francis Boger and his fellow 47th Pennsylvanians were then rushed into battle ahead of other regiments in the 2nd Division. Sixty members of the 47th were cut down on 8 April during the volley of fire unleashed during the Battle of Sabine Cross Roads (Mansfield). The fighting waned only when darkness fell. The exhausted, but uninjured collapsed beside the gravely wounded. After midnight, the surviving Union troops withdrew to Pleasant Hill. Company K’s 2nd Lieutenant Alfred P. Swoyer was one of those killed in action at Mansfield.

The next day, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers were ordered into a critically important defensive position at the far right of the Union lines, their right flank spreading up onto a high bluff. By 3 p.m., after enduring a midday charge by the troops of Confederate General Richard Taylor (a plantation owner who was the son of Zachary Taylor, former President of the United States), the brutal fighting still showed no signs of ending. Suddenly, just as the 47th was shifting to the left side of the massed Union forces, the men of the 47th Pennsylvania were forced to bolster the 165th New York’s buckling lines by blocking another Confederate assault.

Casualties were severe. Privates Nicholas Hagelgans, Jacob Madder and Samuel Wolf of K Company were all killed in action. The regiment’s second in command, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander, was nearly killed, and the regiment’s two color-bearers, both from Company C, were also seriously wounded while preventing the American flag from falling into enemy hands.

Still others from the 47th were captured by Confederate troops. Held initially as prisoners of war at Pleasant Hill and Mansfield, Louisiana or at the CSA hospital at Shreveport, they were subsequently marched roughly 125 miles to Camp Ford, a Confederate Army prison camp near Tyler, Texas, and held there as POWs until released during prisoner exchanges from July through November. (Sadly, at least three members of the 47th never made it out alive.)

Following what some historians have called a rout by Confederates at Pleasant Hill and others have labeled a technical victory for the Union or a draw for both sides, the 47th Pennsylvanians fell back to Grand Ecore, where they remained until 22 April. Retreating to Alexandria, Louisiana, they and their fellow Union soldiers next scored a clear victory against the Confederates near Monett’s Ferry in the Battle of Cane River on 23 April 1864.

Christened “Bailey’s Dam” for Lt. Col. Joseph Bailey, the Union officer overseeing its construction, this timber dam built by the Union Army near Alexandria, Louisiana in May 1864 facilitated Union gunboat passage on the Red River (public domain).

Meanwhile, from April 30 to 10 May, while temporarily assigned to the command of Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Bailey, the remaining men of Company K and their fellow 47th Pennsylvanians helped to build a dam to enable federal gunboats to more easily traverse the fluctuating water levels and rapids of the Red River.

Beginning 16 May, Captain Charles Abbott and the men from K Company then moved with the majority of the 47th from Simmsport across the Atchafalaya to Morganza, Louisiana, reaching New Orleans on 20 June.

* Note: Private Tilghman Boger was likely not involved in much of the fighting throughout the Red River Campaign. Described as “Vet. Absent on furlough (sick)” during the months of March and April 1864 and “attached to the Marine U.S.A. General Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana on 22 April 1864” on one regimental muster record, he was also shown on another as assigned to that hospital in New Orleans “until returning to duty on 22 May 1864.” (Military clerks created confusion by initially entering the soldier’s name as “William Boger”; however, regimental muster rolls for Tilghman Boger later confirmed that it was he, and not his brother William, who had been hospitalized in New Orleans.)

An affidavit filed by William Francis Boger three decades later on behalf of Tilghman Boger’s Civil War Pension application noted that Private Tilghman Boger had been ill during their regiment’s time in Florida, but also made clear that his brother’s health had worsened during the Red River Campaign across Louisiana – health problems which prompted the transport of Tilghman Boger to New Orleans for more advanced medical care than was available via the 47th’s regimental physicians. Among the medical conditions most likely attributable to the 47th’s Red River service were rheumatism and lumbago (resulting from long marches with heavy supply packs over difficult terrain in harsh climate) and urinary, kidney and rectal problems (resulting from dysentery and chronic diarrhea contracted from poor water quality and the close, unsanitary conditions of shared tents).

Removed from command amid the controversy regarding the Union Army’s performance during the Red River Expedition, Union General Nathaniel P. Banks was placed on leave by President Abraham Lincoln, and later spent much of his time in Washington, D.C. as a Reconstruction advocate for Louisiana.

The service by Pennsylvania’s 47th Volunteer Infantry was, however, far from over.

Sheridan’s 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign

Halltown Ridge, looking west with “old ruin of 123 on left. Colored people’s shanty right,” where Union troops entrenched after Major-General Philip Sheridan took command of the Middle Military Division, 7 August 1864 (photo/caption: Thomas Dwight Biscoe, 2 August 1884, courtesy of Southern Methodist University).

Undaunted by their travails in Bayou country, the majority of 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers willingly continued their fight to preserve the Union during the summer of 1864. After receiving orders on the 4th of July to return to the East Coast, they did so in two stages. Companies A, C, D, E, F, H, and I steamed for the Washington, D.C. area beginning 7 July while the men from Companies B, G and K remained behind on detached duty and to await transportation. Led by F Company Captain Henry S. Harte, they finally sailed away at the end of the month, arriving in Virginia on 28 July; they then reconnected with the bulk of the regiment at Monocacy, Virginia on 2 August.

Due to this delay, however, the Boger boys and their fellow K Company comrades missed out on a memorable encounter with President Abraham Lincoln, and also missed the fighting at Snicker’s Gap, Virginia.

Attached to the Middle Military Division, Army of the Shenandoah beginning in August, the now fully-staffed 47th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry was assigned to defensive duties in and around Halltown, Virginia in early August, and also engaged over the next several weeks in a series of back-and-forth movements between Halltown, Berryville and other locations within the vicinity (Middletown, Charlestown and Winchester) as part of a mimic war being waged by Sheridan’s Union forces with those commanded by Confederate Lieutenant-General Jubal Early. The 47th Pennsylvania engaged in its next major encounter during the Battle of Berryville, Virginia from 3-4 September.

But, as Sheridan’s campaign was ramping up, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry was also undergoing a major transformation as multiple officers and enlisted men mustered out upon expiration of their initial three-year terms of service. Many opted not to re-enlist, including Company D’s Captain Henry Woodruff, E Company’s Captain Charles H. Yard and Captain Henry S. Harte of F Company, as well as K Company Sergeant Peter Reinmiller, Corporals Lewis Benner and George Knuck, and Privates Valentine Amend, M. Bornschier, Charles Fisher, Charles Heiney, Jacob Kentzler, John Koldhoff, Anthony Krause, Elias Leh, Samuel Madder, Lewis Metzger, Alfred Muthard, John Schimpf, John Scholl, and Christopher Ulrich – all of whom mustered out at Berryville, Virginia on 18 September 1864.

Those members of the 47th who remained on duty (like the Boger brothers) were about to engage in their regiment’s greatest moments of valor, but those moments would come with a hefty pricetag.

Battles of Opequan and Fisher’s Hill, September 1864

Battle of Opequan (aka Third Winchester), Virginia, 19 September 1864 (public domain).

Together with other regiments under the command of Union General Philip H. (“Little Phil”) Sheridan and Brigadier-General William H. Emory, commander of the 19th Corps, the 47th Pennsylvanians helped to inflict heavy casualties on Lieutenant General Jubal Early’s Confederate forces in the Battle of Opequan (also spelled as “Opequon” and referred to as “Third Winchester”). The battle is still considered by many historians to be one of the most important during Sheridan’s 1864 campaign; the Union’s victory here helped to ensure the reelection of President Abraham Lincoln.

The 47th Pennsylvania’s march toward destiny at Opequan began at 2 a.m. on 19 September 1864 as the regiment left camp and joined up with others in the Union’s 19th Corps. Advancing slowly from Berryville toward Winchester, the 19th Corps became bogged down for several hours by the massive movement of Union troops and supply wagons, enabling Early’s men to dig in. The fighting at Opequan Creek, which began in earnest at noon, was long and brutal with the Union’s left flank (6th Corps) taking a particular beating from Confederate artillery stationed on high ground.

Meanwhile, the 47th Pennsylvania and the 19th Corps were directed by General William Emory to attack and pursue Major General John B. Gordon’s Confederate forces. Some success was achieved, but casualties also mounted as a Confederate artillery group opened fire on Union troops trying to cross a clearing. When a nearly fatal gap began to open between the 6th and 19th Corps, Sheridan sent in units led by Brigadier-Generals Emory Upton and David A. Russell. Russell, hit twice – once in the chest, was mortally wounded.

The 47th Pennsylvania opened its lines long enough to enable the Union cavalry under William Woods Averell and the foot soldiers of General George Crook to charge the Confederates’ left flank. The 19th Corps (with the 47th in the thick of the fighting) then began pushing the Confederates back. Early’s “grays” retreated in the face of the valor displayed by Sheridan’s “blue jackets.”

Leaving 2,500 wounded behind, the Rebels retreated to Fisher’s Hill, eight miles south of Winchester (21-22 September), and then to Waynesboro, following a successful early morning flanking attack by Sheridan’s Union men which outnumbered Early’s three to one. Afterward, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers were sent out on skirmishing parties before making camp again at Cedar Creek.

* Note: Affidavits filed on behalf of Tilghman Boger’s Civil War Pension application by Boger, his brother (William Francis Boger), and a K Company comrade (Solomon Gildner) showed that Private Tilghman Boger’s health problems worsened significantly during Sheridan’s 1864 Shenandoah Valley campaigns (particularly around the September 1864 Battle of Opequan). Having been plagued by rheumatism, kidney and rectal health issues since his regiment’s time in Florida and by increasingly painful back and kidney problems since the Red River Campaign, Tilghman Boger’s health would not only continue to be an issue for the remainder of his service, but for the remainder of his life.

On 23 and 24 September 1864, the Boger brothers’ regiment lost its two most senior officers – Colonel Tilghman H. Good and Lieutenant Colonel George Alexander – who mustered out upon the expiration of their respective terms of service. Fortunately, they were replaced with leaders equally respected for their experience and temperament, including Major John Peter Shindel Gobin.

Battle of Cedar Creek, 19 October 1864

Custer’s Division Retiring from Mount Jackson, Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, 7 July 1864 (Alfred Waud, U.S. Library of Congress, public domain).

During the Fall of 1864, General Sheridan began the first of the Union’s true “scorched earth” campaigns, starving the enemy into submission by destroying Virginia’s farming infrastructure. Viewed through today’s lens of history as inhumane, the strategy claimed many innocents – civilians whose lives were cut short by their inability to find food. This same strategy, however, almost certainly contributed to the further turning of the war’s tide in the Union’s favor during the Battle of Cedar Creek on 19 October 1864. Successful throughout most of their engagement with Union forces at Cedar Creek, Early’s Confederate troops began peeling off in ever growing numbers to forage for food, thus enabling the 47th Pennsylvania and others under Sheridan’s command to rally and win the day.

From a military standpoint, it was another impressive, but heartrending encounter. During the morning of 19 October, Early launched a surprise attack directly on Sheridan’s Cedar Creek-encamped forces. Early’s men were able to capture Union weapons while freeing a number of Confederates who had been taken prisoner during previous battles – all while pushing seven Union divisions back. According to Bates:

When the Army of West Virginia, under Crook, was surprised and driven from its works, the Second Brigade, with the Forty-seventh on the right, was thrown into the breach to arrest the retreat…. Scarcely was it in position before the enemy came suddenly upon it, under the cover of fog. The right of the regiment was thrown back until it was almost a semi-circle. The brigade, only fifteen hundred strong, was contending against Gordon’s entire division, and was forced to retire, but, in comparative good order, exposed, as it was, to raking fire. Repeatedly forming, as it was pushed back, and making a stand at every available point, it finally succeeded in checking the enemy’s onset, when General Sheridan suddenly appeared upon the field, who ‘met his crest-fallen, shattered battalions, without a word of reproach, but joyously swinging his cap, shouted to the stragglers, as he rode rapidly past them – “Face the other way, boys! We are going back to our camp! We are going to lick them out of their boots!’”

Sheridan Rallying His Troops, Battle of Cedar Creek, Virginia, 19 October 1864 (U.S. Library of Congress, public domain).

The Union’s counterattack punched Early’s forces into submission, and the 47th Pennsylvanians were then commended for their heroism by General Stephen Thomas who, in 1892, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his own “distinguished conduct in a desperate hand-to-hand encounter, in which the advance of the enemy was checked” that day. Bates described the 47th’s actions:

When the final grand charge was made, the regiment moved at nearly right angles with the rebel front. The brigade charged gallantly, and the entire line, making a left wheel, came down on his flank, while engaging the Sixth Corps, when he went “whirling up the valley” in confusion. In the pursuit to Fisher’s Hill, the regiment led, and upon its arrival was placed on the skirmish line, where it remained until twelve o’clock noon of the following day. The army was attacked at early dawn…no respite was given to take food until the pursuit was ended.

But, once again, casualties for the 47th were high. Sergeant William Pyers, the C Company man who had so gallantly rescued the flag at Pleasant Hill was cut down and later buried on the battlefield. Privates Lewis Berliner and Lewis Schneck of K Company were killed in action, as was Private Moses Klotz, who sustained a fatal head wound. Sergeant William H. Burger of Company K fought valiantly to survive the wound to his head by an artillery shell fragment or musket ball which compressed his brain, but ultimately died from that traumatic brain injury on 5 November 1864 at the Union Army’s Satterlee General Hospital in Philadelphia. K Company Corporals Joseph Frack and William Landis were more fortunate, as was Private James Strauss; wounded in action, they survived and continued to serve with the regiment, as did Regimental Chaplain William Rodrock, who suffered a near miss when a bullet pierced his cap.

Still others were captured and held as prisoners of war, several of whom died while being held at the Confederate Army’s prison camp at Salisbury, North Carolina. In addition, another member of the 47th ended up at the Rebels’ version of Hell – the Andersonville prison in Georgia.  (Sergeant William Fry of Company C survived long enough to be released and sent home to Pennsylvania only to die in Sunbury, Pennsylvania a few short months after falling ill while confined as a POW.)

Following these major engagements, the 47th was ordered to Camp Russell near Winchester from November through most of December. Rested and somewhat healed, the 47th Pennsylvanians were then ordered to outpost and railroad guard duties at Camp Fairview in Charlestown, West Virginia. Five days before Christmas they trudged through a snowstorm in order to reach their new home.

1865 – 1866

Spectators massing for the Grand Review of the Armies, 23-24 May 1865, at the side of the crepe-draped U.S. Capitol, flag at half mast following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln (Matthew Brady, U.S. Library of Congress, public domain).

Assigned in February 1865 to the Provisional Division of the 2nd Brigade of the Army of the Shenandoah, the Boger brothers and their fellow 47th Pennsylvanians moved, via Winchester and Kernstown, back to Washington, D.C. Beginning 19 April 1864, they helped to defend the nation’s capital in the wake of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

Encamped near Fort Stevens, they received new uniforms and were resupplied. Letters home and later newspaper interviews with survivors of the 47th Pennsylvania indicate that at least one member of the regiment was given the high honor of guarding President Lincoln’s funeral train while others may have guarded the Lincoln assassination conspirators during their imprisonment and trial.

As part of Dwight’s Division of the 2nd Brigade of the Department of Washington’s 22nd Corps, the 47th Pennsylvania then participated in the Union’s Grand Review of the Armies on 23-24 May.

Tilghman Boger’s honorable discharge, 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1 June 1865 (excerpt, public domain).

Having developed rheumatism and lumbago related to the regiment’s intense marches with heavy supply packs over difficult terrain in Louisiana’s harsh climate, as well as urinary, kidney and rectal problems, Private Tilghman Boger was deemed no longer able to serve with the Union Army, and was honorably discharged on 1 June 1865 by General Order No. 53 (issued by the Headquarters of the U.S. Army’s Middle Military Division on 30 May 1865). Mustering out from where the regiment was stationed near Washington, D.C., he had last been paid on New Year’s Eve of 1864, and had received just $25 of the $100 total bounty that he had earned from the federal government for enlisting. Having last settled his debts for clothing on 4 August 1864, he still owed the military $55.75 – a work expense ultimately deducted from his final pay.

Meanwhile, his brother continued to soldier on. Assigned to a final southern tour, Private William Francis Boger and his fellow 47th Pennsylvanians were attached to the 3rd Brigade, U.S. Department of the South, initially serving in Savannah, Georgia from 31 May to 4 June before taking over in July for the 165th New York Volunteers at Charleston, South Carolina, where they were quartered in the former mansion of the Confederate Secretary of the Treasury. Duties were frequently Provost (military police) or Reconstruction-related (repairing railroads and other key regional infrastructure items which had been destroyed or damaged during the long war).

Finally, beginning on Christmas day of that year, Private William Francis Boger joined the majority of the men from the 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers in mustering out from the U.S. Army at Charleston, South Carolina, a process which continued through early January 1866. Following a stormy voyage home, the weary, soon-to-be-civilians disembarked in New York City, and were then transported to Philadelphia by train where, at Camp Cadwalader from 9-11 January, they were officially given their honorable discharge papers.

Return to Civilian Life – William Francis Boger

Macungie Furnace, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania (c. 1890, public domain).

Following his honorable discharge from the military, William Francis Boger returned to Pennsylvania and, sometime around 1866, wed Lydia Gordon (1836-1918). After settling in Alburtis, Lower Macungie Township, Lehigh County, the newlyweds greeted the 10 March 1867 arrival of daughter Caroline Ellen Boger (1867-1950), whom they nicknamed “Carrie.” A son, William F. Boger (1868-1949), then arrived on 23 October 1868, followed by daughter Anna L. Boger (1870-1896), who was born on 14 February 1870. The new father supported his growing family through employment as a laborer with a local furnace.

* Note: Carrie Boger later went on to marry Henry Knerr while Anna Boger later wed William Hilbert.

Excerpt of Francis Boger’s affidavit filed in support of Tilghman Boger’s U.S. Civil War Pension application (1893, public domain).

During this same phase of his life, William Francis Boger came to the aid of his brother who was engaged in a struggle to obtain approval for a U.S. Civil War Pension. Forced by state and federal government officials to repeatedly file addendum after addendum to his initial application, Tilghman Boger had sought help from William, who described his brother’s Civil War-related health problems via an affidavit filed on 21 October 1893. (See affidavit excerpt in image at left and abridged affidavit transcript in Tilghman Boger’s biographical section below).

The wane of the 19th century would also prove to be a difficult time for William Francis Boger, who lost a father and a daughter within a span of several weeks. His father was laid to rest in the Lehigh Zion Cemetery in Alburtis, Lehigh County after passing away in that community on 27 November 1896 while daughter Anna L. (Boger) Hilbert was interred at the same cemetery after succumbing 9 December to a lengthy illness. She was just 27 years old when she drew her last breath, and left her husband to care for three young children.

Sometime later in life, William Francis Boger developed heart disease. As his health declined, he also developed dropsy. Finally, on Wednesday, 11 March 1908, the old soldier answered his final bugle call, passing away at the age of 68 years and 10 months at his home in Alburtis, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. According to one obituary:

He was survived by his wife, sons William and Henry S. Boger, and daughter Mrs. Henry Knerr, as well as by his brothers and fellow Civil War veterans, Benjamin and Tilghman Boger, their sister and Mountainville resident, Mrs. George Kerschner, and their stepbrothers Charles, James, John and Oswin Boger, who resided in Minesite. Funeral services were held on Monday, 16 March 1908 with interment made at Lehigh Church (also known as the Lehigh Zion Cemetery in Alburtis).

His obituary in The Allentown Leader provided the following additional details:

DIED AT ALBURTIS- William Francis Boger died yesterday of dropsy and heart failure at his home at Alburtis, aged 68 years and 10 months. His wife Lydia and the following children survive: Mrs. Henry Knerr, William Boger and Henry S. Boger, all of Alburtis. The following brothers and sisters also remain: Tilghman of Allentown, Benjamin of Wescosville and Mrs. George Kerschner of Mountainvllle. Charles of Allentown, James, John and Oswin Boger of Minesite are step-brothers. He was a veteran of the Civil War and enlisted in Co. K, 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, on August 17, 1861, and was discharged Dec. 25, 1865. Funeral Monday at 9.30 a. m. Services and burial at Lehigh Church.

His wife, Lydia, was then awarded a U.S. Civil War Widow’s Pension of $8 per month on 13 April 1908 (retroactive to 19 March of that same year) – a rate that was subsequently increased to $12 per month on 19 April 1908, and then increased again to $20 per month on 8 September 1916. She then followed him in death on 6 January 1918, and was laid to rest beside him. Allentown’s Morning Call newspaper reported in its 8 January edition that she was survived by her children, including Mrs. Henry Knerr, and provided the following additional details:

Lydia Boger, a born Gordon and widow of Francis Boger, died at her late home on Franklin street. Alburtis, at 3 o’clock on Sunday morning, after an illness of 4 years and 10 months, of paresis, aged 81 years, 3 months and 16 days. She was a daughter of the long deceased Samuel Gordon and his wife Lydia, a born Fegley. Her husband, Francis Boger, a Civil War veteran, died about ten years ago. She was a member of the Lutheran congregation at Lehigh Church.

William Francis Boger’s namesake son, William F. Boger, and daughter, Caroline Ellen (Boger) Knerr both also lived long, full lives. After their respective deaths on 22 April 1949 and 11 September 1950, they were also both laid to rest at the Lehigh Zion Cemetery in Alburtis.

Return to Civilian Life – Benjamin Boger

Jerusalem Western Salisbury Church, Allentown, Pennsylvania (c. 1890, public domain).

Having returned to Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley following his honorable discharge from the military in 1863, Benjamin Boger then wed Matilda Carolina Elizabeth Kern (1854-1912) sometime around late 1863 or early 1864. By 1870, he and his wife were residing in Lower Macungie Township, Lehigh County with their children: Pruella M. (1864-1944), who had been born in Salisbury Township, Lehigh County on 5 November 1864 and later wed Henry Fenstermacher, and Harvey (born circa 1867). Also residing at the family’s home at this time was 21-year-old Henry Boger.

They then greeted the arrival of three more children – Herbert B. F. Boger (1867-1931), Laura L. E. Boger (1872-1928), and Milton S. Boger (1876-1959), who were born in Wescosville, Salisbury Township, respectively, on 4 July 1867, 9 September 1872, and 27 May 1876 – followed by daughter Jennie, who arrived in April 1882, and son Oliver, who arrived in December 1883.

By the time of the 1880 federal census, however, Benjamin Boger’s family had already begun to splinter. Daughter Pruella, who had accepted a servant’s job with Wilson Danner, a Lower Macungie Township farmer, had moved into the Danner family’s home.

Still residing in Wescosville as of 1890, according to the special federal census of Civil War veterans and widows, Benjamin continued to work as a laborer to support his wife and children who remained at home. Just six years later, his father was gone, having passed away in Alburtis, Lehigh County on 27 November 1896. Fortunately, joy was also a frequent emotion during this era – kindled by the Allentown marriages of daughter Laura L. E. Boger to Samuel Weidner and son Milton S. Boger to Mamie Kroninger, respectively, on 2 September 1892 and on Christmas Eve in 1898.

Also still residing in Lower Macungie Township with his wife and two of his children (Jennie and Oliver) in 1900, Benjamin Boger continued to support his family on the wages of a day laborer. His son Harvey, a blacksmith who had married a decade earlier, resided nearby with his own wife, Jennie, and their daughter Grace, who had been born in June 1891.

But sadly, the turn of the century also brought more heartbreak when Oliver Boger, the youngest son of Benjamin Boger, fell ill with consumption (tuberculosis), and then died at his parents’ Wescosville home in Wescosville at 9:30 a.m. on 18 February 1905. Just 21 years old, he was survived by his parents, sister Jennie (at home), sisters Mrs. Henry Fenstermaker and Mrs. Samuel Weidner (Allentown and Wescosville, respectively), brother Herbert (Wescosville), and brothers Milton and William (Allentown).

Benjamin Boger’s daughter Jennie was then also claimed by the same disease, passing away on 14 January 1907. Following funeral services led by the Rev. O. M. Rath at her parents’ home on Saturday, 19 January at 9:30 a.m., she was laid to rest at Allentown’s Jerusalem Western Salisbury Church Cemetery.

* Note: After marrying machinist Henry L. Guth in Wescosville on 10 November 1906, Jennie (Boger) Guth had greeted the arrival of a child in 1907, but was not strong enough to ward off the debilitating effects of consumption; like her younger brother before her, she passed away at the home of her parents in Wescosville. According to her obituary in The Allentown Leader’s 15 January 1907 edition, she was “survived by her husband, one child 6 weeks old, her parents, two sisters, and two brothers, Mrs. Henry Fenstermaker of South Allentown, Mrs. Samuel Weidner and Henry Boger of Wescosville and William Boger of Allentown.”

A year later, on 11 March 1908, his brother William Francis Boger then also passed away – in Alburtis, Lehigh County (on 11 March 1908).

Benjamin Boger then received two additional increases to his pension (Certificate No. 596423) –  from his 16 April 1907 renewal rate of $12 per month to $15 per month on 2 June 1911 (retroactive to 23 May) and to $19 per month on 7 December 2012 (retroactive to 25 May).

He and his wife had also become empty nesters by this time, residing alone in their Lower Macungie Township home. On 19 August 1913, their son Herbert B. Boger then remarried – to Berks County native Emma Landis in Lehigh County; his first wife had passed away earlier that same year (on 21 February 1913).

Less than a year later, Benjamin Boger was also gone, having died “from a complication of diseases” in Wescosville at the age of 72 years, ten months and 23 days. He was then laid to rest at Allentown’s Jerusalem Western Salisbury Church Cemetery.

Return to Civilian Life – Tilghman Boger

T. M. Fowler’s 1893 illustration of the Village of Macungie, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania (public domain).

Following his honorable discharge from the military in June 1865, Tilghman Boger returned home to the great Keystone State of Pennsylvania, where he resumed his life as a laborer. On 10 March 1867, he wed Christianna Gable (1850-1891) at the Indianland Church in Cherryville, Lehigh Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania. A native of Cherryville who was a daughter of Aaron Gable (1813-1899) and Sarah (Miller) Gable (1814-1890), she was more commonly known to family and friends as “Sallie.”

Their household expanded quickly with the birth of daughters Pruella Jane (1867-1931), who later took the married surname “Leiser” and ultimately succumbed to ovarian cancer; Ida V. (1869-1921), who later wed Corolias Hilbert and ultimately succumbed to cancer of the uterus; and Sarah A. (1870-1906), who was born in the Village of Macungie in Lehigh County. The three sisters were born respectively on 14 May 1867, 8 February 1869, and 4 September 1870. Son Ulysses S. Boger (1873-1912) then followed on 29 July 1873.

In 1880, Tilghman and Christiana Boger and their aforementioned children were documented by federal census takers as residents of Centerville, Lehigh County, where Tilghman was employed as a furnace laborer. In short order, children Estella (1880-1961), Robert Henry (1882-1909), and Meda Mae (1884-1952) then made their respective first appearances at the Boger’s Lehigh County home on 18 November 1880, 19 November 1882, and 11 September 1884.

* Note: Estella and Meda Boger later wed and took the married surnames of “Kramer” and “Gilmore,” respectively. Robert Henry Boger was mistakenly listed on one of Tilghman Boger’s pension records as “Howard H.”

Tilghman Boger’s 1893 Civil War Pension affidavit describing his Taufschein’s accuracy with respect to his birth data (excerpt, public domain).

As one decade ended and another began, Tilghman Boger’s health began to decline, prompting him to file for a U.S. Civil War Pension on 20 December 1888. Paperwork submitted to the Prothonotary of the Lehigh Court of Common Pleas by Boger and his attorney initially noted that, after being treated at the Marine General Hospital in New Orleans for an unspecified illness, he had fallen ill again in 1864 and in 1865, adding:

That while a member of the organization aforesaid [47th Pennsylvania Volunteers], in the service and in the line of duty at Shanandoa [sic] Valley in the State of Va. on or about the 17th day of September, 1864 he contracted Rheumatism through [his position?] in the field at the battle of Winchester. Also the result of said exposure resulted in Kidney trouble – and urinary difficulty so that a general disability is resulting.

In an affidavit filed on 2 July 1890 with the Deputy Prothonotary of Lehigh County’s Court of Common Pleas by Boger and his attorney, Levi Smoyer, Boger was subsequently described as both “seriously disabled” and “partially disabled to earn a support by reason of Kidney disease, weakness of back, and general loss of vitality” – chronic medical conditions common to many of the veterans with whom he had fought side-by-side during the Civil War as part of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers. This affidavit added “that said disabilities are not due to vicious habits, and are [believed to be] permanent. That he files this declaration for the purpose of being placed on the pension roll of the U.S. under the Act of June 27, 1890.”

The 1890 special federal census of Union Civil War veterans and widows documented that Tilghman Boger had relocated to Allentown, and still suffered from kidney disease. Sadly, as if his life was not hard enough, he was then widowed after 31 years of marriage. Having passed away on 1 May 1891, his wife Christianna (Gable) Boger was laid to rest at Allentown’s Union-West End Cemetery.

Still wrestling with pension authorities two years later, Tilghman Boger filed additional paperwork with the Lehigh County Common Pleas Prothonotary on 29 December 1892, explaining “that he [had] contracted [a] disease of [the] rectum about the year 1865, during service and disease of [the] heart about twenty years ago.” Stressing the seriousness of his condition, this affidavit reiterated “that said disabilities are not due to his vicious habits, but are to the best of knowledge and believe a permanent character.” He then also filed the following affidavit with the Prothonotary on 21 October 1893:

That I am the identical person named in my “Taufschein,” Tilghman Boger, and that I was born on the 23d day of March A.D. 1837, in Macungie Township Lehigh Co. Pa. That I have said Taufschein in my possession upwards of fifty years given to me by my father during his lifetime. That said Taufschein is in the German language, and that one like it was given to each of my Brothers and Sisters by my said father –

That the date of my said birth is correctly stated in said “Taufschein,” and that all other statements otherwise made by me, or written by any other person relative to my said age are errors.

In addition, he enlisted the help of his brother, “Francis Boger,” and former K Company comrade, Solomon Gildner. Both also filed affidavits on 21 October 1893 with brother stating:

That he personally knows said Tilghman Boger from his childhood to the present time. Before the war he was a healthy man. That affiant was a comrade of said applicant during his said service in said command – that during said service applicant frequently complained that he had pain across the back. That since our discharge from said service applicant has continued to complain of pain across the kidneys. Applicant got sick on the Red River expedition in the state of La. during the year, 1864 and continued sick for about four weeks. That after applicant recovered from his sickness aforesaid, he moved stiff and weak, that rheumatism, lumbago, and disease of heart and rectum are not the result of applicant’s vicious habits to the best of affiant’s knowledge and belief.

Solomon Gildner then provided these crucial insights:

That affiant personally knows said Tilghman Boger for about 40 years, as a neighbor and friend. That affiant was a member of Co. K, 47th. Regt. Pa. Vols., and with said applicant during during his service in said Co. K, 47th. Regt. Pa. Vols. That whilst the Regt. aforesaid was at Key West Fla. said Tilghman Boger had rheumatism and also complained of disease of his heart and back across kidneys. This also occurred in the State of Va. during service in the year, 1864. Applicant was also troubled with diarrhea; I personally have this from our being together in said service, and saw applicant nearly every day. I noticed applicant having rheumatism and pain across kidneys, that he was stiff in limb moved about lame, and bent from pain in his back. This occurred frequently during our service in said regiment.

That the said disabilities – viz. rheumatism, lumbago and disease of heart and rectum are not the result of applicant’s vicious habits to the best of my knowledge and belief. That having been with said applicant, very often since our discharge I noticed him having said rheumatism and disease of kidneys (pain across back) ever since our discharge until this time. I know this from his moving about lame and his complaining of pain across his back. It is my opinion from what I above stated that [applicant] was disabled at least 1/2 of his time from manual labor….

Sadly, in the midst of these ongoing challenges with federal pension authorities, Tilghman Boger lost his father, Solomon, who passed away in Alburtis, Lehigh County on 27 November 1896, and was then laid to rest in that community’s Lehigh Zion Cemetery.

A widower residing with children Estella A., Meda M. and Robert H. Boger at the time of the 1900 federal census, he experienced a brief period of peace and stability before another child fell ill. Following her death from stomach cancer on 14 May 1906 at the age of 35 years, 7 months and 18 days, daughter Sarah A. Boger was interred at Allentown’s Union-West End Cemetery. A longtime employee of A. J. Reichard’s wallpaper house, she had made many friends among her coworkers and Bible study group at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church. The pallbearers for her funeral were George K. Daubert, Harry Koch, William H. Laury, Charles and Harry Whitman. Several of her former colleagues jointly paid for a “vacant chair” floral tribute while others contributed a “broken circle, roses, sweat peas [sic] and lilies of the valley … carnations and daisies, ad wreaths of roses and lilies of the valley.” Her brother Ulysses contributed a “slumber robe.”

Afterward, Tilghman Boger soldiered on. After securing the reissue of his Civil War Pension at the rate of $12 per month on 13 May 1907 (retroactive to 16 February of that same year), he then received an increase to $15 per month on 15 January 1908 (retroactive to 8 June 1907).

But his world was rocked again when two more pillars of his support system toppled with the deaths of brother William Francis Boger in 1909 and son Robert Henry Boger in 1910. A shipping clerk for M. S. Young & Co., Robert H. Boger had been ill for a week, and was just 26 years, 7 months and one week old at the time of his passing in Allentown on 27 June. Coverage of Robert Boger’s funeral by The Allentown Democrat noted that his employer provided an “anchor on pedestal” floral tribute while sisters Estelle and Meda contributed snapdragons and sweatpeas [sic], family patriarch Tilghman Boger contributed a slumber robe, and the family jointly provided a “pillow inscribed ‘Too Soon.’”

Living with his 24-year-old daughter at the time of the 1910 census, Tilghman Boger continued to receive a U.S. Civil War Pension, according to paperwork filed on 18 May 1912, which noted that payments were increased to $20 per month on 10 April 2012 (retroactive to 26 March of that same year). He then received a subsequent increase to $30 per month on 18 October 1912 (retroactive to 22 May) – just prior to his undertaking a visit to family. The Allentown Democrat announced in its 10 October 1912 edtion that “Tilghman Boger of Allentown spent a few days in town [Alburtis] on a visit to Mrs. Francis Boger, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Knerr and Mr. and Mrs. Henry S Boger.”

Then, on 7 April 1914, Tilghman Boger lost yet another family member when his brother and fellow Civil War veteran, Benjamin Boger, succumbed to “a complication of diseases” in Wescosville, Lehigh County – just a few weeks shy of his 73rd birthday.

600 Block of Hamilton Street, Allentown, Pennsylvania (c. 1921, public domain).

By 1920, Tilghman Boger was a roomer residing in Allentown with Lewis Scheirer and his family. The last of the battling Boger boys, he had survived the carnage of the U.S. Civil War, endured the deaths of several siblings, his spouse and four of his children, and had also lived to see the region of his birth transformed from a largely agrarian society to one which benefitted from the industrial and technological advancements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His pension rate at the time was $40 per month.

Just five years later, his heart finally decided that it, too, had had enough. Weakened by myocarditis, that heart finally beat for the final time in Allentown on 4 May 1925. Tilghman Boger was then laid to eternal rest at the Union West End Cemetery in Allentown on 9 May 1925.

At the time of his passing, he was receiving a U.S. Civil War Pension of $50 per month.

 

Sources:

1. Baptismal and Burial Records (Boger Family, et. al.). Lehigh County, Pennsylvania: Jerusalem Lutheran and Reformed Church of West Salisbury, 1837-1914.

2. Bates, Samuel P. History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: B. Singerly, State Printer, 1869.

3. Benjamin Boger: Aged Civil War Veteran Dead. Allentown, Pennsylvania: The Allentown Democrat, 9 April 1914.

4. Boger (Sarah Boger’s death notice). Allentown, Pennsylvania: The Allentown Leader, 16 May 1906.

5. Boger, Francis and Tilghman, in Civil War Veterans’ Card File, 1861-1866. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State Archives.

6. Died at Alburtis (obituary of William Francis Boger). Allentown, Pennsylvania: The Allentown Leader, 12 March 1908.

7. Died at Wescosville (obituary of Oliver Boger, son of Benjamin Boger and nephew of Tilghman and William Francis Boger). Allentown, Pennsylvania: The Allentown Leader, 11 February 1905.

8. Laura L. E. Boger, Samuel F. Weidner, Benjamin Boger, and Henry Weidner; Milton S. Boger, Mamie Kroninger, Benjamin and Matilda Boger, and John and Sarah Kroninger; Jennie Boger, Henry L. Guth, Benjamin and Matilda Boger, and Nelson and Hattie Guth; and Herbert B. F. Boger, Emma L. Landis, Benjamin Boger, Matilda Kern, Jonathan Landis, and Sarah Feinour, in Marriage License Docket. Allentown, Pennsylvania: Clerk of the Orphans’ Court of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, 2 September 1892; 24 December 1898; 10 November 1906; and 19 August 1913.

9. Miss Boger Buried (obituary of Sarah Boger). Allentown, Pennsylvania: The Allentown Leader, 19 May 1906.

10. Pruella Boger, Henry Fenstermaker, and Benjamin Boger, in Marriage License Docket. Allentown, Pennsylvania: Clerk of the Orphans’ Court of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania: 27 December 1887.

11. Pension Payment Cards. Washington, D.C.: United States Veterans’ Administration, 1907-1925.

12. Robert H. Boger: Obituary and Laid to Rest: Robert H. Boger. Allentown, Pennsylvania: The Allentown Democrat, 28 June 1909 and 2 July 1909.

13. Schmidt, Lewis. A Civil War History of the 47th Regiment of Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers. Allentown, Pennsylvania: Self-published, 1986.

14. Tilghman Boger, et. al. Civil War enlistment and re-enlistment papers, 47th Pennsylvania muster rolls, in Boger Family Archives: Various contributors, locations and dates.

15. Tilghman Boger and Miss Sarah Boger, in Death Certificates, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Vital Statistics,

16. U.S. Census and U.S. Census of Union Veterans and Widows of the Civil War (1890). Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania: 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1890, 1900, 1910, 1920.

 

 

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