from George Boyd in 1849The following letter was written by George W. Boyd to his brother Sylvester Boyd. It is dated March 18th, 1849 and addressed to Waldo Post Office, Marion County, Ohio, Sylvester Boyd and postmarked "San Antonio, Txs, Mar 23." According to Eleanor Berkshire, George Boyd was killed in March, 1849 in Texas during the Mexican American war. However, the Mexican war actually ended in 1848.
This letter was probably the last that the Boyd family ever heard from George. I'm sure that is why it has been kept all these years.
It is not known what caused Sergeant Boyd's death. A history of his military unit describes being camped at Camp Salado when there was a flash flood in March, 1849 and a non-commisioned officer (that is a Sergeant) was killed. It also mentions that there were 35 men who died of cholera in May. So he may be one of these deaths.
See section below.
Camp Saldo is believed to have been along the Salado Creek at the site of the battle of Salado Creek (1842) which is within the bounds of current day Fort Sam Houston North East of San Antonio. Sergeant Boyd states in his letter, "Near San Antonio."
George Boyd did not start sentences with capital letters or end sentences with periods. Sometimes commas are used at the end of a sentence. I have edited the letter to start and stop sentences, but I have generally left the spelling as it was in the original.
March 18th, 1849
Dear Brother Camp Salado Near San Antona Texas
I take my pen in hand to write a few lines to let you know that I received your letter on the 20 of November last Which gave me great pleasure to hear that you were all in tolerable good health. Since I wrote to you last I have traveled a great ways and do expect to start from this Camp in about one month for a place in New Mexico called Elpasso. From the best accounts of the front it is about seven hundred Miles from San Antona Debecker (sic)1. I am well and hope these lines may find you enjoying the same health. I am in good spirits and do hope to see you all again. The time passes away very sow(sic) and tedius but every day now counts one. I have not quite one year to serve my Country. You stated that you wrote to Washington but I suppose it is of no account. There is nothing heard from it. You wanted to know whether a soldier would get his pay if discharged before the expiration of his enlistment. A soldier gets pay every two months if in regular garrison but some times they are not payd(sic) for four months. But if a soldier is dischared he gets his full pay all that is due him at his enlistment.
I want you to let me know how you all get on and how things and mater(sic) are in general and how my affares(sic) stand. I want you to see that mother is comfortable and that everything is right on the farm and to see that the taxes are paid on home farm and on the lot that is west of Marion and to get all the papers concerning them and Deeds and file them away so that they do not get lost. For they will come good to me some time for if I should live to see March fifty I shall have my discharge which is good to me for one hundred and sixty acres of land which I can take any where in the United States where there is land for entry. I expect to get to the gold region yet before long in New Mexico. All the cry is gold in California every body is going from there(sic) homes to California. Wages are very high. A labouring man they say gets from fifty to sixty dollars a month of diging(sic) gold so who nose(sic) what luck i might have.
I will close by giving my best respects to mother and brother and relation and to all that may inquire.
I want you to answer this letter as soon as can and let me know what is doing there. You will direct your letters to San Antonia, Texas, 3rd Regiment of Infantry, Company I, USA
I Remain Your Respectfully Sylvester Boyd,
Sergt, George W. Boyd
(1) San Antonio was known as San Antonio de Béxar at that time.
From THE THIRD REGIMENT OF INFANTRY By LIEUTENANT J. H. McRAE, 3D U. S. INFANTRY, (found at
http://www.history.army.mil/books/R&H/R&H-3IN.htm) the following:
In October and November Headquarters and Companies A, B, C, E, I and K, were transferred to Texas, taking station at Camp Salado, four miles from San Antonio; and Companies D, F, G and H, to Jefferson Barracks, where they remained until the following April when they were sent to Fort Leavenworth.
During the winter of 1848-49, while the Texas battalion under Brevet Major Van Horne was encamped on the Salado River, at about 1 o'clock on a quiet starlit morning the sentinel over the storehouse suddenly found himself walking in water. He gave the alarm and in an instant the hitherto peaceful camp was in a furore of excitement and terror, for as men, women and children tumbled out of bed, they found themselves in water. When
the sun arose that morning the insignificant rill of the night before had become a sea of raging waters, in some places two or more miles in width. Every vestige of the camp was completely swept away by the force of the torrent, but such had been the promptness, efficiency and discipline of all concerned that only one life was lost, that of a non-commissioned officer of the regimental staff, supposed to have been drowned in his sleep. His body was never recovered. The regiment lost everything, clothing, baggage, personal effects, private papers, etc., while the Government lost arms, ammunition, quartermaster and subsistence stores, everything except the horses and mules which had saved themselves and helped to save the women and children. The force of the flood was so great, that, with the exception of one armchest full of muskets found lodged in adrift in the Cibolo River, some 50 miles below the camp, nothing was ever recovered.
During the month of May, 1849, there were 35 deaths from cholera in the companies at Camp Salado and 11 in the battalion at Fort Leavenworth.
* There is a drum-major's baton now in possession of the regiment, presented to it by its old brigade commander, General Persifor F. Smith, the wooden portion of which is part of the flagstaff of the capitol building, or national palace, of Mexico, and the metal portion is made of Mexican silver.
Of the officers serving with the Third Infantry during the Mexican War, six afterwards became major generals of volunteers during the Civil War, and one a major general and one a brigadier general in the C. S. A.
CAMP SALADO. Camp Salado was the campground occupied by the volunteers under Capt. John Coffee (Jack) Hays" during the battle of Salado Creek" on September 18, 1842. The camp is believed to have been adjacent to the battlefield on Salado Creek, six miles northeast of San Antonio within the bounds of present Fort Sam Houston.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Gerald S. Pierce, Texas Under Arms: The Camps, Posts, Forts, and Military Towns of the Republic of Texas (Austin: Encino, 1969).