William, Sam and George Booth

The enclosed picture shows my great-great-grandfather, Lieutenant William Thomas Booth and his two brothers, Sergeant Sam Booth and Private George Booth, of the 2nd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, Company C, the "Grant County Greys." This photo was likely taken during May or June 1862 while the brigade was encamped near Fredericksburg VA; the original tintype belongs to Ernest W (Bill) Booth.

Along with his two older brothers, William enlisted in Company C at Potosi, Wisconsin on April 23,1861 (3 days after marrying his bride, Louisa Daniels). He was 27 years old at the time (Sam was 29; George was 32). He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant while both of his brothers enlisted as privates. William's higher rank was possibly due to previous military experience. His war records show that on August 5, 1848, at the age of 14, while living in Hartford Connecticut, he enlisted in the general services at New York, NY and was assigned to a company of "Music Boys" at Principal Depot, Fort Columbus, NY. Apparently his term of service lasted only a short time; he was "Discharged Oct 9/48 by Civil Authority Minority - A Recruit." I'm unclear on the circumstances of his discharge but it appears he was found to be under-age and released from service.

During the first Battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861, William was wounded by a musket ball in the calf of his left leg and taken prisoner. He spent the next six months in the Tobacco House prisons at Richmond. He had a rough time of it in prison; his pension application filed in 1879 states "while in prison had chronic diarrhea and Typhoid Fever, affected throat and lungs, piles, chronic rheumatism and wound by gunshot through left leg." He was paroled on January 26, 1862 and exchanged for Lieutenant Julian G. Moore of the 7th North Carolina Volunteers, and rejoined Company C on January 28. He was promoted to 1st Lieutenant on February 17, 1862. He remained with the 2nd Wisc. for the remainder of 1862, but in January of 1863 he resigned from the Company due to disability. The circumstances of his resignation are unknown; his pension records state "He was honorably discharged on tender of resignation Jan'y 3, 1863, on order from Head Qtrs, but papers on which discharge was based are not on file. No medical certificate on file."

The other Booth brothers also saw their share of combat action. Sam was wounded during the fighting at Brawner's farm on August 28, 1862 although apparently not seriously enough to remove him from Company C, and George was wounded at Antietam on September 17, 1862. George was discharged due to his wounds on January 17, 1863. Sam remained with the 2nd was mustered out with the company on June 28, 1864; at the time of his discharge his rank was Sergeant.

On January 3, 1864, William and George both re-enlisted as privates in the 7th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, Company F. (It appears there was some sort of recruiting drive in Potosi, as records show that 8 other Potosi men enlisted in the 7th during the first week of January 1864, and two others joined other regiments.) William was promoted to Sergeant Major and reassigned to Field & Staff command on December 14, 1864, while George served out the war as a private. Both brothers were with the 7th Wisconsin at the conclusion of the war and marched in the Grand Review in Washington.

Following the Grand Review William returned to Potosi, but apparently did not remain there long. The family lived in Wolf Creek WI in 1869, and was living in Murfreesboro TN when William filed his pension application in 1879 (in spite of his long list of hardships suffered in prison, his pension application appears to have been denied!). In 1883 they moved to Joy, Minnesota, and in 1902 moved to Elma, Washington. Prior to the war William had worked as a fisherman along with his brothers, and after the war he worked as a farmer, miner, storekeeper, and census taker. William and Louisa were married for 58 years, until William's death in 1919 at the age of 85; they had 9 children. William is buried in the IOOF Cemetery in Elma, WA.

Thanks to Bill Booth for allowing me to reproduce and share his photo of the Booth brothers, and for providing genealogical information. -

Steve Wyrick, Concord, CA, Pvt. Co H, 2nd WVIA