18 year-old George Wellington Bolster enlisted in Co. D, 4th Michigan Infantry on 8 August 1864 at Franklin, Michigan, for 3 years. Mustered August 16, 1864. Mustered out at Houston, Texas, May 26, 1866.
George was born on 2 July 1847 at Erie county, Pennsylvania. His parents were Harris George Bolster (1814-1888) and Mary Catherine Mertz (1819-1891). George was only 13 years old and still living with his parents in Greenwood, Craford county, Pennsylvania, when the Civil War erupted in 1861.
George survived the war and returned to Franklin Center, Michigan, where he married Puella Imogen Alvord (1842-1919) in April 1868. In the 1880 Census, George was enumerated as a farmer in Evergreen, Montcalm county, Michigan.
Camp near San Antonio, Texas
October 15, 1865
I have long neglected writing to you with the hopes that I should soon be at home to tell you the past but have give it up now and thought I would write you a few lines to let you know that I am well at present and hope that these few lines will find you the same.
Elvin, there is but little use in trying to tell you of the suffering of the boys in Texas. We never suffered so in the Cumberland Army. But our boys have stood it pretty well. We have not lost only about half of our number since we have been in this state. On our last march, the boys fell faster than this command could pick them up or fix shade over them. We landed at a place called Powder___. We then had to march 35 miles to get to water that we could drink and we had only one canteen of water to last as we crossed the plains. We landed on the 10th of July. The weather was excessive hot and we had to march in the night. We marched all night and the next morning we could not see neither land nor water and the most of the boys had all their water drank up and it was 12 miles to water. We marched till it got so hot that the boys could not stand it to march and to stop would only make it worse for them and the only hopes that we had was to get to camp as quick as we could.
The Colonel and 14 men got in camp at 10 o’clock but the rest of the boys was till night and several of them died on the road. The First Brigade lost lots of men — more than we did. This is but a small affair to what our last march was. We marched 160 miles and not half of the time [could we] get any water. But Elvin, this haint got anything to do with things at home. Matters in Texas haint got anything to do with them at home. But I am here, Elvin, and can’t dodge it. A soldier’s life is a dismal one and I am tired of it. I had rather be at home where I could tell where I was going to stay all night and when I laid down to sleep that I would know where I would be when I wake up. For the last year, I haven’t known when I laid down whether I would be there when I woke up or not. It is a hard life to lead and a man wants to be tougher than iron to stand it.
There is nothing stirring here. We can’t see nothing but soldiers and don’t hear any news. Everything is quiet in camp. The boys from round Springville are well — all that are alive. There is Edwin Lee and Frank Fortrace and Ed Johncose. The only boys from that [location] that I know. They are well and…
Elvin, write and let me know [how] things are getting along [and] how the girls feel since so many of the soldiers has got home. Write as soon as you get this. Write all the particulars. No more for this time.
From your friend, — George W. Bolster to Elvin Ayers, Esq.
Direct your letters to Geo. W. Bolster, 4th Mich. Vol. Inft., 3rd Brig., 2nd Div., San Antonio, Texas