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Captain Joseph Boyce and the 1st Missouri Infantry, CSA

edited by William C. Winter; Missouri History Museum Press

The first installment of Captain Joseph Boyce’s comprehensive history of the regiment he served in throughout the war appeared in the Missouri Republican in November 1883. An amateur historian, Boyce intended to write a supportive and reconciliationist record of the regiment, not a personal memoir of his experiences. Now that his memoir is available for the first time in book form, it’s clear that he succeeded.

Twenty-year-old Boyce joined the St. Louis Greys, later to become Company D of the 1st Missouri Volunteers, in 1858. The regiment compiled a distinguished service record in the Western Theater: first bloodied at Shiloh, captured and exchanged after Vicksburg, actively engaged in the Atlanta Campaign, mauled at Franklin (where Boyce was wounded for the third time) and finally surrendered at Fort Blakely, Ala., on April 9, 1865.

Unlike many Missourians who fought as bushwhackers and irregular guerrillas, the 1st Missouri was “committed to the larger cause of Southern independence,” concludes editor William Winter. Boyce contended that “the heroism and endurance of each side is alike illustrative of American national character.” Yet he never succumbed to the myth of the Lost Cause. “And we can still decline to apologize,” Boyce wrote, “while acknowledging that it is probably better for the country, better for ourselves, that our cause failed.”


Originally published in the April 2012 issue of Civil War Times. To subscribe, click here.