Skip to main content


Special Collections Online at UT

Joseph Boyd Letters

Identifier: MS-2166

  • Staff Only

The Boyd Letters consists of six letters that Joseph Boyd wrote to his parents, Margaret and John Boyd, between September 1862 and January 1864. These letters deal with such diverse topics as camp conditions, soldiers' viewpoints on the war, living conditions in the Union Army, military operations, and concerns for family left behind. Interestingly, while Joseph's letters to his father are almost gratuitously descriptive, those to his mother downplay the violence of the war.


  • 1862-1864

Conditions Governing Access

Collections are stored offsite and must be requested in advance. See for detailed information. Collections must be requested through a registered Special Collections research account.

Conditions Governing Use

The UT Libraries claims only physical ownership of most material in the collections. Persons wishing to broadcast or publish this material must assume all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any claimants on for detailed information. Collections must be requested through a registered Special Collections research account.


0.1 Linear Feet


The Boyd Letters, 1862-1864, contains six letters written by Joseph E. Boyd of the 115th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. Specifically, this correspondence describes Union military camp conditions, the environment of Tennessee, Union soldiers' viewpoints regarding the war and Confederates, battles and military operations in Middle and East Tennessee, and the family concerns of Union soldiers.

Biographical/Historical Note

Joseph E. Boyd was born to Margaret and John Boyd in Illinois in 1843. At the time of the 1860 U. S. Census, he had five siblings: Archibald (23 years old), John (9 years old), Geoffrey (6 years old), Charles (4 years old) and Elizabeth (1 year old). John Boyd worked as a ship carpenter, and the family was of comparatively modest means.

Joseph Boyd mustered into Company D of 115th Illinois Volunteer Infantry as a Private on September 13, 1862, when he was just 19 years old. The unit traveled in the southeast for the first several months of its existence and saw its first major action at the defense of Nashville on February 4, 1863. They participated in various actions in the vicinity of Nashville until they were assigned to the Middle Tennessee (or Tullahoma) Campaign (June 24-July 7, 1863). They then moved on to the Chickamauga (Georgia) Campaign (September 7-22, 1863) and the Siege of Chattanooga (September 24-October 26, 1863). They next participated in the reopening of the Tennessee River (October 26-29, 1863) and the Battle of Wauhatchie, Tennessee (October 28-29, 1863). They remained in Lookout Valley and Nickajack Cove, Georgia, until February of 1864, when they took part in the demonstration on Dalton, Georgia (February 22-27, 1864). They were then assigned to the Atlanta (Georgia) Campaign (May 1-September 8, 1864) and the subsequent pursuit of General John Bell Hood across North Alabama and North Georgia (September 29-November 3, 1864). Joseph Boyd was killed in Dalton, Georgia on October 13, 1864, during this campaign.

After Boyd's death, the 115th Infantry returned to Tennessee for the Nashville Campaign (November-December 1864) and then saw duty in Huntsville, Alabama until March, 1865. They were assigned to operations in East Tennessee between March 20 and April 22, 1865, and then moved to Nashville. They mustered out in Nashville on June 11, 1865 and discharged at Camp Butler, Illinois, on June 23, 1865.


Collection consists of a single folder.

Acquisition Note

Collection was purchased by Special Collection.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA