Here’s another in my periodic posts on forgotten cavalrymen.
I’ve long admired Col. William H. Boyd. As a company commander in the 1st New York (Lincoln) Cavalry, Boyd harassed and generally impeded the Confederate advance through Pennsylvania. His service, brilliant as it was, is too often overlooked, and has long been forgotten.
Here’s the entry from Samuel P. Bates’ Martial Deeds of Pennsylvania on Boyd:
WILLIAM HENRY BOYD was born on the 14th of July, 1825, at Quebec, Canada. His father was a soldier in the British army. At the breaking out of the war he was in the Directory publishing business in Philadelphia. He recruited a company of cavalry for Schurz’s National brigade, which became a part of the First New York (Lincoln) Cavalry, and which he led on the Peninsula as escort to General Franklin. After the Maryland campaign this regiment was left with Milroy at Winchester, and fought the advance of Lee in his march towards Gettysburg. Boyd was detached to save the wagon train and brought it safely to Harrisburg, after which he operated in the Cumberland Valley both during the advance and retreat of the enemy from Pennsylvania, rendering important service. He was shortly after commissioned Colonel of the Twenty-first cavalry, which in the Wilderness campaign he led as infantry, and at Cold Harbor was severely wounded, the ball piercing his neck and lodging in one of the vertebrae, where it remained for five months and was only extracted after three unsuccessful attempts. In 1868 he was an agent of the Treasury Department.
Locating information on Boyd is difficult; his service and pension files are a jumbled mess, confused with the files of his son (William H. Boyd, Jr.), commingled together. I haven’t been able to find much more on him other than that information available in the OR and in various newspaper accounts. One of these days, I hope to be able to put together at least an article on Boyd’s role in the Gettysburg Campaign that will give him the credit he deserves.Scridb filter