03

Boam, William

Place of Birth: Manchester

Date of enlistment: 22 December 1874

Age given at enlistment: 21 9/12

Rank: Private

Company: B

Location on 25 June 1876: With packs and in hilltop fight

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Comments:

Name and place of birth not yet verified.

A Sailor from Manchester

When William Boam enlisted in the U.S. Army, at Boston, Massachusetts, on 22 December 1874, he gave Manchester, England as his place of birth and his age as twenty-one, which was the minimum age for enlistment without parental consent. He had grey eyes, brown hair, a medium complexion, stood 5′ 9″ tall, and was a sailor by occupation. Boam was assigned to Company B, which was engaged on Reconstruction duty in Shreveport, Louisiana, and he joined his new comrades there on 10 February 1875. His period of service with the Seventh Cavalry was short and notable mostly for his court martial on 27n August 1875, when he was found guilty of being drunk on duty and sentenced to two months confinement and forfeited $10 per month pay for two months.  

On the first day of the battle, his company, under the command of Captain Thomas M. McDougall, was rear guard with the pack train and Boam came through the action on Reno Hill in one piece. But his health failed him soon after. He was deemed to be unfit for duty on spent from 8 December 1876 to 12 April 1877 in the post hospital at Fort Abraham Lincoln, when he was discharged from the army on a surgeon certificate for disability.  He was suffering from ‘pulmonary consumption’ (TB) and was rated fifty per cent disabled. His character was ‘good’.

William Boam’s last recorded address was 36 The Bowery, New York City. At the time this was the Bowery Mission Restaurant, though it was later became known as the Bowery Mission. A letter to him from the Pensions Agency was returned from this address on 7 December 1877, by which time the consumptive Boam had presumably died.

The famous red doors of the Bowery Mission, New York.

There is no record of a William Boam being born in Manchester, England, or in 1853 for that matter. Several persons of the same name are recorded as having been born in the neighbouring county of Derbyshire in 1854, any one of whom might have crossed the Atlantic and enlisted in the U.S. Army. At the time of going to press however this cavalryman’s true identity must remain uncertain.

 

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