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Horace Killam Correspondence

 Collection — Container: MS 3967
Call Number: MS 3967

Scope and Contents

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.


  • 1864


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Items in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. In most cases, the Boston Public Library does not hold the copyright to the items in our collections. It is the sole responsibility of the user to make their own determination about what types of usage might be permissible under U.S. and international copyright law.

Biographical / Historical


1846 - Horace Killam born in Boxford, Massachusetts.

1864 - Enlists as a Private in the Union Army. Joins “K” Company, 59th Massachusetts Infantry. Receives wounds at the Battle of Spotsylvania and presumed dead by his family. Fights in the Battle of North Anna and is captured. Transferred from Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia to a parole camp in Annapolis, Maryland to await exchange. Dies at noon in the parole camp hospital of typhoid and malarial fever.

Note written by Laura Hoff


35.00 Items

Language of Materials



Arranged chronologically.

Method of Acquisition

Purchased from Early American History Auctions, Inc. in 2007.

Related Materials

Samuel Bowdlear and Austin Wellington Correspondence, 1862-1865, MS 3929

20th Regiment Collection

Babcock, William C., MS 3269.

Banks, N.P., General, MS 1873.

Hunt, Samuel Everett. Letters, MS 3311

Correspondence regarding Southern citizens and African American troops, MS 1476

Barrows, William A., MS 3286

Dean, Joseph F., MS 551

Aubrey, Peter, MS Am. 474

Barrows, William, MS 3286

Cross, T. C. MS Am. 2348

Civil War letters, MS 3352

Spinney, Geroge A., MS Am 1754

Wilson, Alvah J., MS 3050

Everson, Erastus W., MS 2816

Ropes, Henry, "20th Reg." Cab. 7.2. qto

Processing Information

Finding aid written by Laura Hoff, October 2009.

Processing Information

This electronic finding aid is transcribed from legacy data. In many cases, transcriptions were not verified against collection materials at the time of transcription. As a result, this finding aid could be incomplete and might only reflect a partial understanding of the material.

Statement on harmful description

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Horace Killam Correspondence
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