Horace Killam Correspondence, 1864 | Boston Public Library Archival and Manuscript Finding Aid Database
This collection of thirty-five letters documents Horace Killam’s experiences in both battle and as a prisoner of war. In addition, it details the Killam family’s experience of sending a family member to war. Primary correspondents include Killam’s mother Catherine Killam, father Oliver Killam, brothers Charlie and Henry Killam, and aunts, cousins, and friends. Killam’s first letter home was composed on stationery intended for soldiers and printed with the ballad “Brave Boys Are They.”
Horace Killam, a farmer from Boxford, Massachusetts, enlisted for service in the Union Army at the age of 18. He was mustered into service on April 21, 1864 as part of “K” Company in the 59th Massachusetts Infantry. He fought in the Battle of Spotsylvania, where although he suffered only minor wounds, his family was informed of his death. Killam, already very ill, proceeded with his regiment to the North Anna River where they were surrounded by Confederate forces. He was captured and sent to Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia where he was finally able to write to his family. Among the subjects he wrote about were theft, poor living conditions, and a lack of food. He was eventually moved to a parole camp in Annapolis, Maryland and on October 4, 1864 Killam died of typhoid and malarial fever. His nurse, Susan Phillips, and a close friend, Henry Bartlett, continued to correspond with Killam’s mother after his death.