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William Robertson Boggs, 1829-1911
Military Reminiscences of Gen. Wm. R. Boggs, C.S.A.
Durham, N.C.: The Seeman Printery, 1913.


William Robertson Boggs was born in Augusta, Georgia in 1829. After graduating fourth in his class from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1853, he joined the Corps of Engineers and worked for the Geographical Bureau of the Pacific Railroad Survey. He worked throughout the country improving defenses at U. S. forts. While at one fort, he met and married Mary Sophia Symington in 1855. At the start of the Civil War, he resigned his post as captain of the Corps of Engineers in Charleston, South Carolina and became captain of ordnance for the Confederacy. He contributed to the war effort by designing guns, securing fortifications, and ordering necessary wares. In 1861 he worked on improving the defense of Pensacola, Florida under General Braxton Bragg. While serving under Bragg, Boggs became disheartened by Bragg's failure to promote senior soldiers and he claimed that Bragg mistreated several honorable soldiers. He broke with General Bragg and began service under General Edmund Kirby Smith, who promoted him to brigadier general in 1862. Boggs resigned his commission after the Red River Campaign and became commander of the Louisiana district just before the war ended. He never formally surrendered to the Federal government. After the war, Boggs became an architect in Savannah before moving to St. Louis, Missouri, where he served as chief engineer of the Lexington and St. Louis Railroad. He later was a professor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute from 1875 to 1881. He then moved to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he died in 1911.

Boggs's memoir, Military Reminiscences of General William R. Boggs, was originally written for his children in 1891 and was published in 1915 by the Trinity College Historical Society. It opens with Boggs's resigning his commission with the U.S. government and continues by describing some of the ways he set out to build and maintain armaments for the Confederacy comparable to those he had created for the Union. Boggs devotes a chapter to each of his major outposts and commissions and closes with his analysis of the factors that led to the Confederacy's defeat. Boggs provides a series of Appendix Commentaries that document some of the issues he discussed in the memoirs, including letters of commission concerning his frustrations with Bragg, and a letter affirming his responsibility in cotton speculation. His memoirs offer a fairly sharp criticism of the Confederate military and its leadership.

William Kenneth Boyd (1879-1938) introduces this published edition and provides helpful notes to Boggs's memoir. Boyd was a history professor at Trinity College in Durham, North Carolina, now Duke University. An article about North Carolina and the Civil War by Boyd, North Carolina on the Eve of Secession, is also available on this site.

Harris Henderson

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