Term: Boardman, Maj. Frederick A. (1832-1863)
b. Fairfield, New York, March, 1832
d. Comite River, Louisiana, May 3, 1863
Frederick Boardman had traveled the world as a young naval officer before helping to lead the 4th Wisconsin Infantry during the Civil War. He died in battle near New Orleans, Louisiana, shortly after his 31st birthday.
Boardman was educated at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and served as a midshipman during Commodore Mathew Perry's famous expedition to Japan, 1852-1854. While there, he accompanied journalist Bayard Taylor to the Ryukyu Islands between Taiwan and Japan in 1853. Prior to the start of the war, Boardman moved to Wisconsin, perhaps because he had relatives in Milwaukee. He also acquired land in Trempealeau County and briefly resided in La Crosse in the late 1850s.
Civil War Service
When war broke out in April 1861, few residents of Wisconsin had any formal military training. Those who did were quickly given positions of responsibility. Boardman enlisted as a private on May 28, 1861, but was rapidly promoted to major of the 4th Wisconsin Infantry. He left Wisconsin with his regiment for Baltimore, Maryland, in July 1861 and moved by water along the Virginia shore, down the Eastern seaboard, through the Gulf of Mexico, and into Louisiana.
Outside New Orleans in the spring of 1862, Boardman led companies G and E of the 4th Infantry in successful assaults against Fort St. Philips. He was also at the capture of Fort Jackson, which led to the surrender of New Orleans. In Union-occupied New Orleans, he was appointed to oversee the security of public buildings and to try civil cases as one of three judges. He declined both appointments in order to continue commanding soldiers in the field.
In July 1862, he fought in two unsuccessful Union attacks upriver at Vicksburg, Mississippi. On August 4-5, 1862, Boardman led his troops in the successful Battle of Baton Rouge. He then oversaw the transfer of valuable books and works of art from the Louisiana State Library to New Orleans in order to protect them during the war. After returning to New Orleans, the 4th Infantry was charged with eliminating small enemy bands in outlying parishes. Major Boardman frequently led his companies into hostile enemy territory.
Fighting to the End
On March 17, 1863, Boardman was promoted to lieutenant colonel of the 4th Infantry. Six weeks later, on May 3, 1864, he was leading a squad of soldiers outside the city when he was shot through the head by a Confederate sharpshooter. His body was returned to Milwaukee, where his funeral was attended by large crowds.
Links to Learn More
Biographical sketch by E.B. Quiner on pages 1010-1012 of his book, "Military History of Wisconsin" (Chicago, 1866).
View original documents related to Frederick Boardman
[Source: E.B. Quiner, Military History of Wisconsin (Madison, 1866); William D. Loss, Wisconsin in the War of the Rebellion (Chicago, 1866; Quiner Scrapbooks: Correspondence of the Wisconsin Volunteers, 1861-1865, Volume 10.]