Nov. 5th, 1861
We have at last got nearly
settled down with our regular Camp life, and I find a little time to write.
During the first few days we were here the commissioned officers were obliged to be absent nearly all of the time and I had to take the whole charge of the company. I was therefore kept very busy.
We have not yet elected our non-commissioned officers and I am acting as Orderly sergeant, it is rather laborious. I have to call the roll at 5 o'clock A. M., then at 9 o'clock A. M., then at 12 o'clock P. M. then at 5 o'clock P. M. then at 9 o'clock P. M.
Sometimes I have to march the company to and from their meals, see that they have enough to eat, look up fuel for the stoves, &c. Must make out a report every morning of the number of men in the ranks, number in the hospital, number on duty: on furlough &c. These with some other duties keep me very busy.
We are to have fifteen more men this week. We shall then elect the Sergeants & Corporals, and I will be relieved of part of my duties. We are quartered in the barracks here, the tents not yet being ready for us to occupy.
It will hardly be worth while for you to come out here present, not until we get our uniforms at least. If you could send me one or two blankets I would like it, also my watch, as I have to call the rolls on time and now have to rely on one else which is not always convenient.
Government shoes are very good, strong, and will have so not find a Pair small enough so will have to get a pair of boots or shoes made.
We will not be paid off until just before we leave. Wish you would send some money, say $10, if it is convenient so that I can procure those things which I need. Went we are paid off, the shoes and other articles which we do not receive are credited to us.
You must write often and I will do so whenever I can. Give my love to all the friends and reserve a large share for yourself.
Frank (H. Putney)
Care Capt. D. Howell 12th Regiment Madison, Wis.
Camp Randall Nov, 17th, 1861
Amid a perfect Babel of
confusion and noise, I have at this time to write and the receipt of the
articles which you were so kind as to send.
Although to-day has been the one set apart as the Day of Rest, yet from all appearances in Camp you would fail to recognize it as the Sabbath, the drums beating and men marching in every direction during the entire afternoon.
This evening some of the men are quarreling, jawing among themselves in consequence of too much whiskey. I suppose which they run the guard to obtain. There is such a noise I can scarcely think!
I presume a description of camp life may prove somewhat interesting to you. We have to get up in the morning at 5 A. M. and answer to roll call. At half past 6 o'clock we have breakfast which is the slimmest meal we get. We then are at liberty until 1/2 past 8 when we mount guard. At 9 o'clock the non commission (officers assemble and drill until 10 o'clock. From 10 until 12 we have squad and company drill under the superintendence of our own officers. At 12 o'clock we dine sumptuously on pork and been soup, beef, bread and butter &c. We are then on liberty until 2 o'clock when we assemble for Battalion Drill and Regimental Parade which lasts till 4 o'clock. At 1/2 past 5 we have supper which is a second edition of the dinner with the addition of coffee the aforesaid coffee being a compound of chickory peas burnt crusts and burnt rye which is quite delicious after you get used to it; it takes some time to get used to it.
Aunt Howell came here last Friday from Bridge Port, she has been visiting Pearson's people for a week. She is just outside the camp where it is convenient for Uncle to lodge and occasionally get his meals. The family is a very pleasant one and Aunt will remain there some time. She thinks strongly of accompanying Uncle, but that will depend somewhat upon where the Regiment is ordered Col. Bryant (Our Colonel). I said yesterday that we might be ordered away in 1ess than two weeks but that is rather doubtful.
Yesterday we received our coats and pants which are like all the other Regiments: dark blue sacks and light blue pants; tomorrow or next day we got our caps and overcoats which will make us look a little more military than we have done for the past two weeks.
I was elected Second Sergeant last week after a hard fight for the office, but as the 1st Sergeant has been sick for a week, I have acted as Orderly, which has kept me very busy, but I hope he may be able to attend to his duties soon and relieve me of some of the labor. Uncle and Aunt both send much love and wish to be remembered to all of the friends. Aunt does not think she can visit Julia (though she desires it very much) as she will not have time.
Give my love to all and reserve a large share for yourself. Write soon and direct to Co. G. 12 Regiment Madison.
I will come home on a furlough if there is any possible show even if I can not stay but two or three days.
From Your Aff. Son
Frank H. Putney
Nov. 23rd 1861
I wrote to you the fore
part of this week in regard to our doings in Camp and as I have a little
spare time, I will employ it in writing again.
Uncle and Aunt left for Janesville this morning and will be back in Camp next Tuesday. Uncle will visit you at Waukesha if he has time but that is not certain. He has several trunks and boxes containing his cloths, bedding &c, which he wants them stored until he returns from the War. I told him I thought if he would send them to you, you could get a place in the depot or some of the warehouses there. I also sent my trunk along which you will open and have the shirts and other cloths washed but not starched as it will rot them. I think the clean shirts had better be washed also. Those old gray pants you can give away. The overcoat you said you wanted. If you can wear those stockings with blue feet you had better take them as they are too large for me and have always hurt my feet.
At Mrs. Pullens is a Bohemian glass cologne bottle belonging to me which you may leave there or take down to Julia's as you like. That old business coat you can keep or give away as you like, it is much soiled but there is considerable wear in it yet.
We have received all of our uniforms now, overcoats too, and look quite soldier like, but when we will get our guns, I do not know.
If we do not leave under two weeks I will try and come home to make a visit but if I can not come you must visit Madison. I will write to you before we leave so you can have time to come.
When it is pleasant weather we have to drill nearly all of the time, but for a day or two it has been very stormy, snowing, blowing. &c.
The 15th & 16th Regiments are coming into camp now. They have some 6 or 8 companies here now. The 15th is the Norwegian Regt., Col. Harris Heg.
Tell Julia I will write to her in a few days.
Has Mary Adell come yet?
Give my love to all and reserve for yourself.
Co G. 12 Regiment
Madison, Wis. Dec. 11th, 1861
Your last two letters
were both received and were welcome as ever. I was glad to hear that you
and all the friends were well and hope to see you in Madison soon.
The Governor came home last evening and brought the news to the Soldiers. A dispatch came from Washington this morning ordering the 9th, 12th and 13th Regiments to Fort Leavenworth Kansas. The Governor replied by saying the Reg'ts were al1 ready to leave but would not do so until they were paid off. A dispatch then came saying Capt. Eddy of the U. S. Army on his way here to pay us off, and would fit us out immediately so we will probably leave next Monday or Tuesday.
The design appears to be to concentrate a large force at Fort Leavenworth and then march South and out off Gen'l. Price's army. If this be so we will get into action sooner than we anticipated although not sooner than the boys desired, if their cheering at the announcement of our departure is any evidence.
I can give today of our departure, but will telegraph to you as soon as we have definite marching orders. Uncle had not yet decided whether or not to have Aunt accompany him. He has some doubts about her ability to bear the fatigue of camp life. I think she had better remain at home in good comfortably quarters instead of following an Army through its various wandering and presume she will conclude to do so.
I wish you would send me a Milwaukee paper occasionally as reading matter is not very plentiful here in camp. We have the Madison Journal every day but it doesn't amount to much.
Write soon and say to the friends that I will surely write to them its soon we spare time and something to write about. In writing to me, direct to
Serg't F. H. Putney
Co. G., 12th. W. V.
Love to all
Dec 23rd, 1861
I have just time to write
a few words and inform you of the news in Camp.
This morning at Dress Parade, the Colonel announced to the Regiment that "they would receive their pay on Wednesday of this week and would leave within 24 hours thereafter for the Seat of War", so this begins to look like moving.
We have received our guns and accoutrements and are now the best furnished Regiment which is in or has let the State.
Our guns are of the style known as the Belgium Rifles and are considered one of the most effective fire arms in the service and in the hands of the "Bully Twelfth" will be apt to tell the "Secesh".
There are a few cases of the measles & a few of the mumps in our Regiment but they are not spreading much.
You had better come out as soon as you can as we remain here but a short time now. You must give my love to all of the friends and come down.
Uncle and Aunt are both well and send much love to all of their friends.
From Your Aff. Son
Madison, Wis., Jan'y 8th, 1862
I have for one strange
as it may seem get my tent all to myself, and I will improve the quiet
by writing to you.
The camp is all agitation in consequence of a fresh report that we are to leave this week for sure.
I think there is some truth in it this time as the Col. issued this marching order authorizing the
Quartermaster to contract for the transportation of the Reg't to Leavenworth. This looks like moving and there is no reason why we should not as we have received our pay and are all ready and very impatient.
The contract for feeding the troops at the Mess Hall expires to-morrow and if we stay longer we shall have to cook our own fodder which will make it rather bad as we have no conveniences now.
The prospect is we shall leave by Saturday at the farthest. Aunt left for Janesville yesterday where she will wait until the Reg't comes along.
Olive and George Lang left for Ohio at the same time as. George was so impatient to get home. On
Monday the 12th & 16th Reg'ts marched down to the city to assist at the inauguration of Gov. Harvey when Gov's Randall and Harvey addressed us for a show time. After the ceremony was over they came up to Camp and dine with the soldiers.
I was over to see Tim Morris and found Orin Lampman in the same Company, both were well and looked as hearty as bucks.
Tim is a corporal and wears his stripes with becoming dignified.
On New Years day the Governor presented the Regiment their colors which are very handsome. The state color silk banner with the Wis. Coat of arms in gilt and the "Forward". The other is the army regulation Stars and Stripes.
Our 1st corporal (who is my chum) was made Regimental color bearer by order of the Colonel.
Co. G. was on guard again Monday and we had a rough time. I assure you during the night we took 25 prisoners and they made that old guard house howl. Give my respects to all and accept much love from
Your Aff. Son
Fort Leavenworth Kansas,
May 28th, 1862
You have doubtless heard
that the New Mexico Expedition has been abandoned and the troops destined
for that point has been ordered back to Ft, Deavenworth's report to Gen'1
Our Brigade under the command of Gen'l Mitchell left Fort Riley May 20th and arrived here on the 26th when we went into camp to await further orders.
The Brigade was reviewed by Brig. Gen'l Blunt (command of this Dept.) this forenoon, and orders were read to us announcing that the troops here would embark this evening on steamers for St, Louis, accordingly we leave tonight at, 6 o'clock. I supposed our destination is Tennessee, though we per usual, know nothing for a certainty. By the time we get to St. Louis we may be ordered to Virginia or any other place but that is not at all probable. If we stop at St. Louis, I will write you again.
Aunt Elizabeth will accompany the Capt. to St. Louis and if she is not allowed to go farther as we hear women are not) will return to Wisconsin. She can not bear the idea of being separated from Uncle, but I think she had much better return to Wis. than to go to Corinth, for the future scene of a large battle is hardly a fit piece for her.
I do not see why I do not get more, letters from you and you will be astonished when I tell you that I have had but two letters from you in the last three months.
When you answer this, direct Via Ft. Leavenworth, as I do not know where we my be located and that direction will go, but the most sure to reach me. It is now 5 o'clock and I must finish in haste as everything is hurly burly about camp. Uncle and Aunt are both well and send much love. You must write often to met as letters from home are a perfect God send.
Give my love to all friends and believe me as ever,
Your Aff. Son
Frank H. Putney
P. S. Give love to Uncle and Aunt Kline when you see them. Tell them I receive their papers about once a month. I also get a paper from you once in a while. They are very acceptable and read with avidity.
June 5th, 1862
I wrote to you from Leavenworth
informing you of the changes which had taken place, and regarding our probable
When we left Fort Riley, we were ordered to Pittsburgh landing when we reached St. Louis orders came for us to go to Fort Pillow and when we got to Cairo we were ordered to stop at Columbus: so on our trip down we had very little idea where we would finally bring up.
Our passage down the river was remarkably pleasant one and I enjoyed it more than any other trip I ever took. As soon as we reached here we went to camp about a 1/2 mile from the fortifications on an elevated piece of ground with wood and water plenty. The site was formerly occupied by the 154th Reg't Tennessee Vol. (Rebel).
Columbus is very strongly fortified by entrenchments and stockade forts and threat wonder is that the Rebels should have evacuated it without a struggle. The works extend some three or four miles back from the river and around the city, are supplied with siege guns of large caliber: 120 and 138 pounders.
They command the river and land approaches in every direction and while the rebels had possession of the place the ground was filled with torpedoes which would explode whenever a body of troops should pass over them. These have been mostly taken out but few still remain.
Just across the river from us is the bloody battlefield of Belmont. There are about 700 graves in plain sight from the River bluff. The inhabitants here are all "Secesh", but make no demonstrations, except occasionally a woman will insult the men by some epithet or other. Gen'l Butler's order ought to in force throughout the Seceded States and it would probably stop these excitable females who can not bear the sight of a Union Soldier.
The Captain has just come in and says we have again got our marching orders so I must hurry up my writing.
We are ordered to leave to-morrow morning at daylight for Union City, Tennessee. It is 40 miles from here and we are ordered to march with our knapsacks packed &c. (Heavy marching orders.) The boys are growling terribly as it is awful hot and stuffy, though we will probably make short marches.
The "13th Wis." go along with us. I expect we are to go and repair the Columbus and Mobile R.R. but do not know. The rebels on their retreat blew up all the bridges. Our men are not at all of pleased with the idea "working on the R. R.", for $13.00 per month.
Uncle has been down town and made arrangements for Aunt's passage back to Wisconsin. She will leave in the morning and will go to Janesville first to see after her things there. Where she will finally locate I do not know, but if she would be contented in Waukesha I would like to have her go there.
After she gets to Janesville I wish you would go out and see her and see what you can do for her as she feels terrible about leaving, but this is no place for her as we are liable to be attacked any day. I send my overcoat home by her as I can not pack it on my back and if I should be where it next winter I can get it by express.
I haven't time to write any more till we get in camp again. You must write often whether I receive the letters or not. I have not had a letter from you in two months.
Give love to all and accept myself for yourself, from
Your Aff. Son,
Frank H, Putney
Direct Via St. Louis
P. H. Putney
July 16th, 1862
I received your last two
letters while we were at Camp each, six miles south of Union City, and
I can truly say that until we came here I had no time to a newer then!
While at Camp Beach, we were employed in building a R. R. Bridge across the Obion river, and I was occupied the greater portion of every day, so that when night came I was tired enough to lie down and sleep soundly, without any additional exercise.
We were engaged upon the bridge and R. R. two weeks, and during that time the thermometer seldom indicated less than from 90 to 95 degrees in the shade. Rather warm for active employment.
We next went back to Union City and remained until the 4th of July when we were ordered to march to Humboldt, 60 miles through the country and part of that distance through one of the far- famed canebrakes of the South.
The weather was so warm that we could not make over 12 or 15 miles in a day, and you can imagine the amount of cussing indulged in by the men, also after putting in 150ft. of bridge were not permitted a ride over it. It seems as if the "12" was doomed to travel all over creation, and that too, afoot and alone.
We were ordered into Summer quarters here and the prospect is now that we will stay here during the Hot Weather at least.
Col. Bryant has been appointed Commandant of the Post.
The Reg't is employed in doing Guard Duty and mounts each day three separate guards, viz. 50 men R. R. guard, 48 men camp guard and 30 men Provost Guards in all 128 men so we are likely to die of inactivity. We are encamped in an orchard about 1/2 mile from town and have a very healthy location
The cotton buyers are flocking into this area of this country true and fast and are doing well. They get their cotton about 16 or 18 cts per lb. (gold and treasury notes) and ship it to St. Louis where it is worth 35 cts.
One man up at Paducah cleared $20,000.00 in 15, days and invested only about $1590, He bought his cotton with Tennessee money at 10 cts and bought his Tenn. money for 50 cts on the dollar shipped to St. Louis and got his returns in two weeks. There are so many buyers here now that there would be but little show for you, but if we could have known it six weeks ago you could have invested money to good advantage.
We have not been paid off for May and June and do not know when we will be. As soon as we are I will forward my Drafts to you. The Drafts are drawn upon the Sub Treasurer of the U. S. in New York, payable to your order, so I have nothing to do with them, except to forward to you. The amount of the Draft will be $24. You may invest as you deem best.
In my letter to you from Columbus I wrote that Aunt E. was coming North. Before she got ready to start she concluded to go to St. Louis and stop with Wa1ter Bessly's people until she knew where we were likely to go. She is still there with them.
Uncle Daniel is going up there in a day or two and I think she will come back with him as she can be made very comfortable here this Summer. Uncle will write to you from St. Louis.
Tell the friends for me, that now I have a little more time. I will be more prompt with my correspondence.
There is a member of our Company home on a sick leave at Oconomowoc. His name is Ole 0. Oleson. You may have seen him.
I nearly forgot to tell you that last week I was promoted to Orderly Sergeant. The office brings in increase of pay of $3 per month so that now I receive $20 per month instead of $17. The increase of labor is greater than that of the pay!
When you write direct to Humboldt, Tenn.
Write soon and accept much love from Uncle and,
Your Aff, Son
Frank H. Putney
August 7th, 1862
Yours of July 22nd came
to hand to-day and I hasten to answer the welcome messenger. There is nothing
occurring here of interest more than when I last wrote. You have probably
heard of the big scare which we had on, the 27th ult. Since we recovered
from that we have had nothing to interrupt the "even tenor of our way",
I send you by to-days mail, a paper edited by our boys here which has a
full account of our alarm, and how near we came to having a fight I
For the last week we have not seen or heard of a guerilla when we first came we used to capture one every day or two.
About 10 days ago a party of our boys while out on a scout captured a Secesh Brigadier who was home on a furlough has been sent to Cairo.
We have already taken some half dozen (Secesh,) Lieutenants, who were hope have left the country can not hear of them.
Uncle Daniel wrote to you a few days since. I suppose he told you that Aunt was coming to Columbus to stay. No women are allowed with the army south of that place, except with A permit from Gen'l U. S. Grant, and that is hard to obtain.
If you are having more than your share of rain, I think we are getting "full rations" of heat. Yesterday the thermometer was 112" in the shade and the day before. I fried an egg on a tin plate with no heat but that of the sun! Rather warm, isn't it? Yet, warm as it is, I never had better health in my life. Since I came into Tenn. I have not had a sick moment. My old affliction, the headache, has left me and I feel tip-top. Mine is not an exceptional case either, for in our Regt. we have, but 21 sick, and that too in the middle of the sickly season. None of our company are in the Hospital, nor have we had any since we came here.
With the vigorous polices (which the President is about to commence) to sustain us. I feel that our men will enter into than earnestness which will reflect credit upon the fight with the Wis. 12th. Our earnest prayer is, that guarding rebel hen roosts and pigpens is played out. We have seen enough of that. I hope that those of our Gen'ls who have such tender conscience towards rebel property may be promptly relieved of their command and more honest patriots succeed them.
What do you think of men having the scurvy and gangrene for want of vegetables, and hundreds of acres of corn, potatoes, apples, peaches &c right in sight of them? If they were taking any of these vegetables, they would get a weeks confinement in the buck and gag or some other severe punishment and so they were forced to live on Bacon and hard bread.
Our Reg't have not respected Gen'l Grant's order but have taken corn, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, apples, peaches &c. wherever they could find them and Col. Bryant has not punished them. He is a white man, all over. But Gen'l Logan has kept his men inside of camp lines and severely punished any infringement of the Vegetable Order. I believe he is a traitor at heart.
I did hot know Solon Darling but went up to see him this mornings. He is well and says he feels first rate and likes "soldiering."
Uncle sends love to all. Give my love to the friend and reserve for yourself, from
Your Affectionate Son
Frank H. Putney
September 8th 1862
I wrote you a letter about
four weeks but like very many of its predecessors is as yet unanswered.
Uncle received a letter from you last week, the first now we have had from you in some time.
We are still in considerable excitement here in consequent of the recent guerrilla raids in this vicinity. Day before yesterday a party of about 350 attacked three companies of this "Illinois Thirty First", stationed at the bridge across the Forked Deer 3 1/2 miles south of this place. The Guerrillas began the attack by killing one picket and mortally wounding another stationed on a trestle work 1/2 mile south of the bridge. They then marched up the R. R. track to where our men were busy constructing breastworks of logs. This was about three o'clock in the morning. They came upon our men with a yell and poured into them volley after volley of bile hot and ball shut the breastworks protected our brave fellows so that none were killed but several were wounded. They then commenced surrounding the works and our men were obliged to retreat across the R. R. into the woods. The Rebels then took possession of the bridge and set it on fire. They burned up all of our tents and baggage, and took what arms were left. The train from Jackson came down about this time and seared them a way as they supposed it had reinforcements aboard, The train arrived just in time to put the fire in the bridge. Five companies of infantry of the Missouri18th were sent out from here and remained there that day and night but no enemy made its appearance.
We captured one Lieut. Colonel, who has since died of wounds, and three privates. We also killed 10 or 12 of their men.
News has just arrived that a scouting party, sent out from our Regiment, is fighting out at Poplar Corners, twelve miles from here. Reinforcements have soon ordered out.
The recent reverses to our arms in the East have cast a gloom and depression over our men that only a series of equally brilliant victories can relieve. I can not see where in we are better off than we were a year ago except that we have 8 nominal possession of the Mississippi and an extremely doubtful hold upon Kentucky and Tennessee.
The National Capitol is still threatened and more closely pressed than last Summer. Missouri is threatened with another invasion and will probably get it. The "loyal" sentiment of we South about which there has been so much prating is about played out. I have not seen any of it in Kentucky or Tennessee. I know just one Union man here. They have all taken the oath? Several of the guerillas, killed day before yesterday, had the, oath in their pocket. I wonder if they don't represent the loyal portion of the South? But enough of this for the present.
Enclosed is a photograph which I had taken here. It is not good but will serve to show how your boy looks as a brave soldiers.
Uncle sends his best respects. Write soon,, and accept much love from
Your Affectionate Son
Frank H. Putney
Sept, 22nd 1862
Your letter of Sept 6th
arrived about ten days since, and I hasten to answer, I was at the time
it came, and did not get it until last week. I have been down to Corinth
twice in the last two weeks having that go on guard on the cars. This guard
was rendered necessary from the fact that two or three trains have been
fired onto by guerilla between Jackson and Corinth. Since a guard was put
on the train they have ceased firing.
We lead the same stupid life as of old having nothing to disturb the even tenor or our way, except occasionally an intelligent contraband brings in word that a large rebel force crossed the Hatchee river last night. Our pickets are the on doubled, the men cautioned to be, on the, alert and when night comes a few of the timid ones go to bed with their clothes, on and their guns and accoutrements by their side, but when day breaks and the aforesaid rebel force fails to make its appearance the "big fraid" blows over, and we settle back into the regular routine of camp life concluding that the rebels are crossing and recrossing that mythical stream, the Hatchee, merely for their own amusement. As long as they remain on its quiet banks we feel tolerably safe. Heavy cannonading has been heard all the morning out east of us and we conclude a force from Trenton is driving the rebels out of Huntington 3 miles from here. The rebels were reported to be there 500 strong and two pieces of artillery, and I heard yesterday that they were to be attacked today. The telegraph brings us word that they are also fighting below Corinth. The 14th, 16th Reg't went to Iuka last Friday expecting to give the rebels a rub at that place.
Aunt Howell came down from Columbus last week, and is looking first rate. I presume she will stay here a week or two longer. She and Uncle both send much love.
We have the healthiest place here at Humboldt that I have seen in Dixie. There are very few Reg'ts at Corinth or Jackson that have over 300 men fit for duty, while we have only 18 men in the Hospital and three of those belong to another Regiment. Our Regiment reports over 800 men for duty. I think you told me that some of Uncle Christopher's boys were in the service. Do you know the no. of their Reg't? This country is full of Illinois troops, and I might find the boys.
Give love to all and reserve for yourself.
Your Aff Son
Frank H. Putney
October 30th, 1862
Now that we have at last
got settled down again I will take the opportunity of answering your kind
From Uncle's letter 5th, I learned you did not go to Minnesota as you intended.
As you are probably aware we left Humboldt October came down here and remained that day. The next night started for the Hatchee to reinforce Gen'l Hurlbut arriving there on the morning of the 7th but Price and Vandorn had retreated during the right, so we did not get into the fight as we expected. I went down onto the battlefield and saw the dead and wounded lying there by hundreds. It was a horrid, horrid spectacle, and I have no desire to witness another. I saw 300 of Price's men dead in one pile and 150 in another. Arms, legs and hands were lying around on the ground promiscuously and 7 guns and sabres without number,
We remained on the Hatchee one day. When we returned here and found to our chagrin that we were to stay at Bolivar. We are in Col. Pugh's Brigade, Gen'l Lareman's Division, and Gen'l, McPherson's District.
All the troops here are actively engaged in entrenching around the place, as it feared Price will attack us here, he is now at Holly Springs, 45 miles south, with about 40 or 50,000 men. He will probably make an attack either here, or at Corinth. Let him come, we are ready for him.
It is just one year ago to night since I entered Camp. I can truly say I am no Randall, a citizen and sorry the step I then took, but the question forces itself home, how much nearer the end of the war are we now than then? A little, perhaps, but the end is not visible, yet I pray God it may come soon.
Aunt E. is here in camp and will remain for the present. Our health is very good. She and Uncle both unite in sending much love to you and all the friends.
When you write, direct to Bolivar, Tenn. Tomorrow we are all to have a general review, and muster. There is now four month's pay due us, but can not tell when we will get it. The Government is very much behind with the pay of the troops here. One Regiment here has had no pay for ten months.
I don t know as you can make anything out of this rambling letter or read it all, but when I tell you my headaches so I can scarcely sit up, I know you will excuse me and hope for better things in the future.
Write soon and believe me now as ever
Your Affectionate Son
Frank H, Putney,
Dec. 8, 1862
I have been waiting some
time before I answered your letter in order to learn if possible the destination,
but here we are as much in the dark as ever, not even knowing how far our
troops have advanced into rebeldom.
We, with the balance of Genl. McPherson's column left LaGrange Tenn. on the morning of Nov. 28th and camped that night at Hudsonville, five miles from Holly Springs. On the 29th we entered Holly Springs without opposition, nary rebel being visible.
Our Cavalry, under Col. Lee, had a small skirmish with the enemy there, no loss on our side, but one man very dangerously wounded.
Early on the morning of the 30th a portion of Gen'l. Hamilton's wing consisting of two divisions, (one of which was Gen'l. McArthur in which the Wis. 14th, 16th, 17th and 18th Regts) left for Waterford where the enemy was supposed to have a strong outpost.
About two miles from Waterford they came upon the rebel picket, who beat a hasty retreat, for the reserve. Upon advancing any further they discovered a rebel battery planted upon a hill in commanding position, or situation. Before our Batteries could get into position the rebel's opened fire but their pieces were small 6 pounders and the shells fell short of their mark. Our Batteries soon returned their fire and in a short time advanced them so that when our cavalry charged up the hill, under cover of our artillery, they found the rebel guns deserted, and the rebels in full retreat for the Talahatches where Price's main army was encamped. The rebel force here consisted of about 5000 cavalry, 1 Regt. of infantry and 1 Battery of artillery.
Our column left Holly Springs about noon on the 30th. We came up at night, we bound our people in peaceful possession of Price's main outpost.
On the morning of the 1st, our Artillery, supported by Genl. Hamilton's wing of the army, advanced to the Talahatches where after some artillery practice on both sides, our to folks crossed that night, our advance guard rested in Abbeville. Price's headquarters and the rebel's stronghold where they were to make a stand, even if every "man should fall."
The next day Col. Lee entered Oxford just an hour after the [?] had left. The Secesh left in such haste they had to burn all the Quartermaster's and Commissary stores collected at Oxford, to prevent their falling into our hands.
Genl. McPherson's column still remains at Waterford and it is still undecided whether we will move forward or back to Holly Springs for winter quarters. What marching is to be done in this season this country will have to be done right soon or not at all as the roads are getting almost impassable. The wagons sink in the mud it up to the hubs. The streams are very much swollen by the recent rain and the bridges are all destroyed. The cars now run down as far as Holly Springs and will be here this week. That will save us an [?] sight of training as we now have to haul all of our subsistence to the Springs.
Uncle Dan has been sick ever since we left LaGrange but has managed to keep along until to-day, he went back to Holly Springs, he will try and get into a house he can then keep warm, at least. He telegraphed for Aunt to come down and nurse him up.
His health has been very far from good all summer and the wonder has been how he stood it as long as he has. I should think he would resign in the field in such weather as [?].
It rained nearly every night and we are, half the time, without any tents, when on the march, Uncle is entirely too old for the service. It is hard enough for young and tough folks.
I hardly know how to have you direct any letters as we are on the move most of the time. If you direct "via Cairo", I think they will come all right
In your letter to Uncle you said you did not know what Brigade or Division we were in. I will tell you although we are liable to be changed any day.
We are in the 3rd Brigade, commanded by Col. Johnson of 28th Illinois, in the 4th Division commanded by Genl. McKean, in the center commanded by Genl. McPherson, 13th Army Corps commanded by Genl. U. S. Grant. Genl. Sherman commands the Right Wing. Gen'l McPherson the Center and Genl. Hamilton the Left Wing. It is hardly worth while to put on letters the Brigade or Division as we are constantly shifted about.
When you write I wish you would send me some postage stamps as I am entirely out and one cannot get any here for love or money.
We have not been paid for 5 months and, I presume will not until we get into winter quarters.
It is getting so dark I can't see to write and I will have to close. Give my love to all the friends and reserve a large share for yourself.
From your loving son,
Frank H. Putney.
Camp near Waterford, Mill.
January 3rd, 1863
Having a little leisure
time today I avail myself of the opportunity to write to you again, and
give you a faint outline of the events of the last two weeks.
Dec. 11th/62 we left Waterford and marched as far south as Waterford valley, driving the Rebel army below Grenda.
While at Watervalley preparing to advance, the Rebels under Van Dorn made it dash upon Holly Springs and burned the government stores, R. Road bridges &c. and so effectually cut out off our communication with Columbus that we were forced to fall back on this side of the Talahatchee or starve.
The rebels captured about 1500 prisoners and destroyed an immense amount of property.
Uncle Daniel and Aunt were in Holly Springs at the time but Uncle was so unwell at the time he could not walk down town to the paroling officer and they (the rebels) had not time to send one to him, so he escaped taking the parole. The Rebels took his sword and pistols. I have not seen Uncle yet as it is impossible to get a pass to go outside Brigade lines, and he has not been well enough to ride down here. Our Chaplain saw him yesterday. He says his health is miserable and that he does not appear to gain at all. Aunt is quite well but had an immense scare while the Rebels were at the Springs, and has no desire to pass another such a miserable day.
At the same time Van Dorn made his raid here, another party burnt Humboldt and Trenton, Tennessee. I presume you have had full accounts of it, The Army here has been on half rations since that time and we are likely to be for a week yet. It has rained nearly every day for the last two weeks, but the weather is warm and no signs of freezing up, not even a frost now.
On Christmas we marched all day through the mud and rain. My Christmas dinner was a half of a hard cracker, a piece of raw bacon, 12 as big as your hand and some parched corn! A dish not quite fit to set before the King but very palatable to a hungry man. We are now living on fresh pork and corn meal which we forage for through the country. We expect to get rations next week so no one grumbles.
On Dec. 31st we were mustered for six months pay which they due us, The Lord only knows when we will get it. Everyone is out of money and grumbling it the tardiness of (the) Government is meeting its payments.
Tobacco is worth 20/ pr pound and scarce, and no money to buy it with. The tobacco chewers are gloomy looking set. I assure you., but we all hope for better times soon, Do you think from the pictures I have drawn that we are at all despondent, we are not.
If Government will only push the War ahead and accomplish something, the men in the Amy will be content. Our Army here in the West will fight until the last man falls, but they chafe at the inaction which has thus far characterized our movements. They are never in to good spirits as when marching against the enemy and grow enthusiastic when talking of battles but this stupid camp life kills them.
Now no one dares set a time for the end of the War but looks to serve his three years at the least.
When the cry went forth "We are coming Father Abraham, six hundred thousand strong", all said, the war is to be ended soon. The end is not yet. The report is that we leave for Memphis day after to-morrow but I do not know how true it is. I hope we may go somewhere soon where we can get our mails I have not seen a paper in three weeks nor had a letter since I wrote to you before. We do not know what is going on in the world any more than we would if we were campaigning it in Africa.
Give my love to all of the friends when you see them, I saw Orin Lampman last week he was well and sent his regards to all. He has grown so he is larger than his father.
When you write direct "Via Cairo" as before. Accept much love for yourself and write soon to,
Your Affectionate Son
Frank H. Putney
Grand Gulf, Mississippi
May 22nd, 1863
In my last letter to you
dated at Memphis, I promised to write soon and as there appears to be no
prospect of our moving to-day, I will avail myself of the opportunity to
fulfill my promise.
On the evening of May 11th, our Brigade embarked on steamers bound down the river, and on the morning of the 13th, 1anded at Youngs Point, La. Nothing of interest occurred the passage down except the shelling of the woods near Greenville by the Gunboat which was escorting us in order to disperse a party of guerrillas which make their H'd Quarters in the vicinity.
From Young's Point we marched across the point to Holland's plantation on the Lake shore about three miles below Warrenton where we remained until four days ago where we were ordered here. While camped at Holland s plantation by going up the river bank five miles we could reach a point which commanded an excellent view of all the Rebel fortifications from Vicksburg to Warrenton, ten miles below, and the sight would repay one for the walk.
One of the finest sights I ever saw was to witness on a clear day, Admiral Porter's gunboat fleet move up into position and engage the Rebel batteries at Warrenton. Two or three shells from us would usually draw the rebel fire, when for half an hour our boats would have it "hot and heavy", then they would withdraw and in the course of an hour return and renew the engagement, and so it would continue until dark.
Abler pens than mine have attempted to describe a battle scene with its whistling of shot and shrieking of shell, and a steady roar of "bombs bursting in air", so I will leave it to your imagination to fill up the picture.
The 2nd,Brig. of our Division followed us here, but the next day after its arrival was ordered back and yesterday landed at Warrenton which you, are aware is in our possession.
After much severe fighting, Gen'l Grant has at last completely invested Vicksburg and without any, more fighting think our possession of the place is merely a question of time: life rebel lines of communication being broken, and all their supplies at Jackson destroyed. The right of our Army now rests upon the Yazoo at Haines Bluff, and the left upon the Miss. at Warrenton, and no doubt, were this reaches you, you will have heard the cheering intelligence that Vicksburg is ours.
Gen'l Grant has already sent to Young's Point via the Yazoo, 4000 Prisoners and has captured siege guns and field artillery with the ammunition in immense numbers. God grant that he may complete the good work by taking all of the Rebs prisoners and capturing all of their artillery.
The same strange fatality which for nearly two years has attended the "12th. Wis." and kept them out of battles, hangs over them and we are almost innocent of the charge of letting Rebel blood. When we were ordered here we came with the full expectation of marching to the front, and taking a hand in the big game being played before Vicksburg. But as it to confirm our previous experience, after waiting here two days, orders came for our Brig. to remain as a garrison to the place, Col. Bryant Com'd'g.
We are camped on the bluff south of the old rebel fortifications in a very cool, airy, place, the best we have had months, and are well content to stay.
If any soldier is burning to get into a fight, I would recommend him to first come to Grand Gulf, and pass through the hospitals where lie our 400 wounded men, dying hourly in the most horrible, agony, and I think his ardor will be somewhat cool.
Uncle and Aunt are both in Memphis, and were well when I left, and sent much love to you. I have not heard from them as well. Dear Father:, I will not weary your patience longer, when I get to writing I hardly know when to stop. Love to all reserve for yourself
From Your Aff. Son
F. H. Putney.
Woman like, I have forgotten
the most important part of my letter and must insert a P. S.
When I last wrote I intimated to you I had some hopes of promotion, but the aforesaid hopes have vanished. Instead of recommending me after I had been regularly elected 2nd Lieut. by the Company, Col. Bryant nominated to Gov. Salomon, Sergt Major H. P. Bird and he was accordingly commissioned 2nd Lieut., Co. G. and is now with the Company. It seemed mighty hard to be jumped after having worked as hard as I have during the year that I have been Orderly, but it can't be helped now and I have only to grin and bear it, as best I can. It is a long lane that never turns. Direct your letters as before.
Love to Lyman and Julia.
In Camp July 4th, 1863, 4 o'clock P. M.
I neglected to mail my
letter to, you on the 2nd inst. and I now have to announce to you the glorious
news that Vicksburg has surrendered. A flag of truce came over to our lines
yesterday noon and this A.M. arrangements were completed and papered, by
which Gen'1 Pemberton surrenders the City and his entire command. We have
not yet heard any of the particulars nor the amount of the capture, but
our troops are marching into the city and the Stars and Stripes once more
float from the dome of the Court House.
A large portion of our army has already started for Black river bridge and our division marches at daylight to morrow, We are to go out until we find Gen'l Joe Johnston who is reported to be in force at Jackson, Miss. I will write full particulars when we return.
Uncle Daniel has received the appointment of Sutler to the 32nd Regt. Ill.Vo1s. and has just arrived from St. Louis with a stock of goods. He is very well, as is also Aunt, who is still in Memphis.
Give my love to all the friends and write soon please send me the Northern Papers containing an account of the capture of Vicksburg. Through them is the only way we can find out what we are doing or have done.
Enclosed you will find a genuine $1.00 Confederate Note, also a five cent postage stamp. Have you had any before?
Your Aff. Son
F. H. Putney
Camp 12th Wis. Vol. Infantry
Natchez, Miss. Oct. 16th, 1863
I have just returned from
dining with Uncle, Aunt. They arrived here from Memphis on the 10th inst.,
and are, keeping house near the camp of the "32nd Ill"; of which Regt.
Uncle is Sutler, you know. They are both in excellent health. I never saw.
Aunt looking better and Uncle a says he feels first rate, though he does
not look so.
Frank Towner of Belvidere (I presume you will recollect him, I do not) is boarding with them and runs the Sutler department of the "12th Wis." Trade is very brisk and Uncle has every prospect of success. I understand the Paymaster for this Post is on his way down, and after the troops are paid the sutlers will have a large cash trade.
Your letter of the 27th was duly received, but you do not say anything about that tape worm which was troubling you. You do not know how it has worried me. Does it get no better or does it get worse? Have you tried worm lozenges, Aunt says they are first rate. I hope you may have got well before, this. When you write let me know all about it, as I would much rather know the truth that to be in suspense and imagine everything.
You need not look for me home on a furlough this fall, as I can get only 30 days leave of absence, and the water is so low that I should consume at least that time on the river. I could not have a week at home, and it is useless to try, although I should like to see you all so very much.
Lieut. Col. Strong, our old Major has been down here and inspected all the troops at the Post, and he paid us a very flattering compliment by saying "we were the best and finest looking Regt., he had seen either in the 13th, 15th or 17th Army Corps.
The health of the troops here is very good and improving all the while. Co. G has only one man in Hospital.
The climate is delightful, just cool enough for out of door exercise very much like our Oct. weather at home, only not quite so cool nights.
My own health is excellent, never better, and I am ready for anything. If it will only continue, as good for a year more I shall be thankful.
Two years ago the 31st of this month we were mustered into the U. S. service, and the boys a1ready begin to count the months before they can go home. We have lost a good many men by death since we started out, and I fear we will lose many more before we see Wisconsin again. The second and third summers in the South tell hard on our Northern constitutions. The prayers of the "Rebs", that "Yellow Jack" might visit us. I think have failed to get a hearing, as I have not heard of a single case of yellow fever this summer. We are in no danger of it here.
I received a letter from Lyman Brown a short time ago; please say to him that I will answer it soon. Give my love to all the friends and rest, keep a large share for yourself, from
Your Aff. Son
Frank H. Putney
Camp 12th. Wis. Vol. Black River, Miss.
January 28th 1864
Your letter written in
Dec. last was duly received and I did not write immediately as in it you
announced intention of visiting us, and I did not know where to write you
there. I presume you have returned to Wis. ere this.
As I do not know whether or not you are posted in regard to our late march, I will give you a brief history of it then. We embarked on transports at Natchez, Miss., Nov. 22nd, I arrived at Vicksburg on the 24th, ramified there four days where our Division moved out to Black River about 11 miles from Vicksburg.
December 5th our Brigade (the 3rd) marched into Vicksburg and again embarked on steamers for Natchez. This move was made in consequence of the latter place being threatened by an attack from the forces under Gen. Wirt Adams, and the garrison there was not considered strong enough to resist him. I arrived at Natchez, we were marched out 23 miles to Fayette, where the enemy was reported in force. Not finding them, we marched across the country, 15 miles and came up with the rebs rear guard killed one, wounded six, and captured two. Third day we marched 12 miles into Natchez.
Dec. 21st, Adams was again reported at Fayette, and we again started out in pursuit the Marine Brigade at the same time moving out from Rodney and arriving at Fayette that when we came up the enemy had skedaddled. The Marines captured a few prisoners. The expedition returned to Natchez on the 24th Dec.
Jan'y, 23rd we embarked for Vicksburg, and upon arriving there we were marched out to our old camp on Black River where we remain.
The troops here and at Vicksburg (17th Army Corps) are all in active preparation for an extensive expedition out to Meridian, Miss., and perhaps into Alabama.
A heavy cavalry force will also move in conjunction with us from LaGrange, Tennessee, and join us at Meridian, The design appears to be to destroy the Rail Roads East of Jackson, Miss. and otherwise injure the enemy as much as possible; at the same time making a feint in Johnson's rear may effect a division in, Grant's favor, and thus enabled Grant to make a successful attack upon the Rebel Army in northern Alabama.
The above news is contraband and not intended for publication! Ha! Ha!
550 men of our Regiment have reenlisted as Veteran Volunteers and the Regt will be ordered home to reorganize as soon as the proposed expedition is over so you may look for me home in the course of two or three months at farthest.
Whenever the Regt. goes North Uncle Dan. And Aunt E. will also go. They are both at Natchez now, were well when I left.
We are all enjoying the best of health. I have not a man in my company unfit for duty. The weather is warm and pleasant. Every one is in his shirt sleeves, and the men have their shirts pulled off and are around barefoot.
New Year's day I had a fine bouquet of flowers picked in the open air, and the plum trees were in full bloom in December.
Are you boarding with Sam Putney as you expected to? Give them all my kindest regards; and assure them they are not forgotten and that I recall with the most pleasant recollections of my visits at Sandy Hollow.
Has Julia Brown returned from New York yet? If she has, give love the same also for Uncle Sidney's and Joseph's people, and all other inquiring friends.
I believe I do not owe Lyman any letter now, but he is debt to me.
Mrs. Pullen and Henry have my best wishes,
Write soon and accept much love from
Your Affectionate Son
Frank H. Putney.
F. P. Black
Sandusky, Feb. 15th, 64
I once more take the privilege of writing a few lines to let you know that I am in the land of the living & enjoying, good health & hope that these few lines will find you the same. I have reenlisted for 3 years more from the 24th of Dec., have I been home on a furlough, there I saw one of your 1etters that you had written to Mother stating that you had answered the one I wrote about a year ago but I never received it. I did not know but you had forgotten that you had a nephew a namesake of yourn but Uncle I had not forgotten you & would give anything to see you - why can't you come to Sandusky while we are here. I can't tell yet whether we will stay in the city or on the Island as soon as the lake breaks up in the Spring perhaps we shall be sent back to the army, either to Tennessee or the army of the Potomac. We left Genesee last Thursday for this place. We had a good time until we got to Greenville. About 4 miles this side of there, someone put a rail road bar across the track. We was off time then & was running very slow so that when we struck it the engine shoved it along about a hundred rods then it caught one end of the rail of the track & threw the engine off & the tender & one car. There was a wood pile close by the track & the engine brought up all standing. In that there was no one hurt, we escaped very lucky, thank God for, it. I have been very lucky so far at the Battle of Fair Oaks, I got a slight wound by a bullet in the side but have got all over it. Just before I went home Albert enlisted in the 16th heavy artillery, so now there is two of us in the army. Well Uncle Fos, there is no more news of any importance so I guess I will close. Oh!, my folks are all as well as usual. Aaron has got to be pretty rugged again, so goodbye this time. Give my love to all the friends in you parts. I am with respect you Obedient Nephew
May 5, 1864
I am happy to announce
to you my safe arrival at my Regiment. As you are probably aware I did
not leave with the Regiment on Saturday the 30th utl, but remained in Madison
until 2 P. M, the following Tuesday, when Lieut. Col. Proudfit started
about 100 of us for Cairo, where we arrived on Wednesday evening. From
appearances I judge we will leave here by the 7th, if not before. Our probable
destination is Huntsville, Alabama as the troops here are constantly leaving
for that point. The men who have lately come down from the report constant
skirmishing with the enemy and every prospect of a fight coming off soon.
It would be characteristic of our previous fortune to get there just after
the battle. I for one would not regret it, yet do not fear the result.
I am not sorry I remained in Madison, as the train which brought our Regiment down ran off the track near Effingham, Ill., killing two men and wounding about 15 more, one of whom belonged to my company. He has since had to have his leg amputated at the knee and is doing well.
Uncle Daniel and Aunt E. are still at Vicksburg, I believe, but have not heard from them when our boys left there, they were both well. I understand that Uncle is coming up here this week.
Since we have been gone north 2 recruits of my company have died and several more are very sick. Poor fellows, they can't stand the climate hear as well as Veterans.
You have no idea what a change there is in the climate, even here. The trees are all leaved out; the sun is as hot as midsummer, and every one is longing for "a lodge in some vast wilderness."
I hope that the first letter which I receive from you will assure me that you have perfectly recovered your health, as words can not express my grief at being compelled to leave home while you were looking and feeling so miserably as you did.
If I were in your place, and could not be comfortable at Sam Putneys, I would not stay there would go where I could enjoy myself. They are as disagreeable as any two people whom I known.
You can give Lucretia and Sarah my kindest regards. I feel, under the greatest obligation to Mrs. Angrave for her many kindness and hope some day to be able to make her an adequate return. I shall ever hold her in grateful esteem. I hope to hear that Bob has recovered. Please give him, as well as Austin and Jack, my best wishes. Give my love to Julia and Frank and say to them that I will write soon. I will also write to the other friends as I may have time.
Opportunities are not very abundant now as we have plenty of work to do drawing clothing & rations, and turning over our old guns & drawing new Springfield rifles in their stead.
The 16th and 17th Army Corps are both assembling here and as fast as fitted out are started off up the Tennessee river, think General F. P. Blair now commands our Corps, (the 17th). The troops are not well pleased with the change as General McPherson was well liked. General Crocker still commands the Division, General Gresham the Brigade. All of our Brigade, except the 12th, has moved up the Tennessee, we will follow suit soon, Enclosed is a Photograph of Capt. Botkin, Capt. Stevens and Frank Foste. Friends of mine also a picture of Corporal Mundy of my Co, When you write direct as before, Via Cairo, Miss.
Write soon and believe me
F. H. Putney
Cairo Ill., Sunday
May 8th, 1864
I wrote to you on the
5th inst. and again having a little leisure time, I can not employ it more
agreeably than by writing to you.
We are still in doubt as to the time when we should move to the front. We have received no orders as yet, but every day the succeeding day is named as the one on which we shall positively leave. The telegraph brings us meagre and unsatisfactory reports of heavy fighting across the Rapadan and that General Grant is moving, but as to our hen, we are left entirely in doubt. We also have the gratifying intelligence that "Burnside is safe!" but as to where Burnside may be, or what danger he has been in we know absolutely nothing but are grateful for the assurance that he is safe and rejoice accordingly. The information is quite as cheering as that so often borne over the wires two years ago, viz that all is quiet on the Potomac.
Sherman is reported to have moved, and the wise acres here say that he will be at Atlanta before we, overtake him. The sooner we march the better it will please me. I am heartily sick of Cairo. It is a vast cesspool which there has been, both literally and figuratively collected all the filth and scum between the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Vicksburg was an Eden in comparison with it.
Uncle Dan and Aunt E. arrived from below last evening. They are looking very well indeed. I do not know what Uncle proposes to do, but think he will go in business here. They send much love to you and the same to Julia Brown.
In my previous letter I enclosed a Photograph. Here are some more which you can also place your Album. Their names are written across the back.
Write soon to
Your Aff. Son
Frank H. Putney
Regards to Mrs. Angrave and family also, to all other inquiring friends.
Direct as before
Frank H. Putney
Camp in the Field near Pulaski, Tenn.
4 o'clock P. M., May 19th, 1864
I have only time to write
you a few lines to let you know of my whereabouts and probable destination.
We are here about two hours ago, leave at daylight tomorrow enroute for
That part of the 17th Army Corps which was at Cairo embarked on twelve transports on the 10th inst. and convoyed four iron clad gun boats steamed up the Ohio & Tennessee rivers arriving at Clifton, Tenn. on the 14th inst. We remained there until the 16th inst. when our Corps and part of the 16th Corps in all about 15000 men under command of Maj. Gen. F. F. Blair took up the line of march arriving here to-day marching 65 miles in three and 1/2 days. It has been a hard march as the weather very warm, and the men had to carry everything on their backs, only two teams to a Regiment being allowed & they were loaded with officer's baggage and rations. It is about 50 miles, to Huntsville and when we arrive there we will probably have to march to Dalton or Resaca or where ever the Amy then may be not a very flattering prospect before us, surely!
In a soldierly point-of-view the trip home has not benefited the men, as it has made them tenderfooted, to say the least. Such a limpings, hobbling, blistered 39 stone bruised foot so re crowd, I never saw before. I know how to sympathize with them, although my feet are all right this time.
I have not received any letter from you yet, and will not until I reach Huntsville, Mo., we expect to find our mail then. We got papers here to-day of the 17th inst. They are the first we have seen since the 10th.
The news is encouraging, but we look for better. I hope 9 in your letters you will be able to assure me that you have fully recovered, your health nothing would encourage me more. My health is excellent.
I suppose you have, ere this, heard of Aunt's arrival in Wisconsin. She started for Janesville the same day that I left Cairo. I wrote you twice from Cairo, enclosing in each letter some Photographs. Have you received them?
Please tell Julia Lucretia, Uncle Joe & all their friends that I will write to them as soon as we get settled so that I can get at my writing materials. I now have to take my paper and pencil on my knee and you see what work I make of it.
Give my regards to Mrs. Angrave & family and tell Bob I will write to him after a while.
When you write direct your letters as before, Via Cairo, Ill and they will come all right. I have only to add write often to.
Your Affectionate Son
Frank H. Putney
Rome, Ga. June 6th 1864
This being the first place
at which we have halted since I last wrote to you, I avail myself of the
opportunity afforded to inform you where we are and where our destination
It is three weeks to-day since we left Clifton, Tenn., 225 miles from here and we have marched constantly with the single exception of 2 1/2 days.
Since leaving Pulaski our road has been over the Cumberland Mountains, and such a road I never saw before. If you wish to form some idea of it, get into a wagon and drive off.
Davis is stone quarry, and then drive up it again and you, will have the Lookout Mt. road on a small scale.
We March for Kingston to-day, thence to the front near Dallas to join Gen. McPherson's forces. Heavy skirmishing is going on all the while with no decisive results on either side although a heavy fight occurred on the 4th inst. in which the enemy lost about 3000, killed & wounded our loss being considerably less.
The understanding here is that Sherman is delaying the attack until the arrival of our Corps which will be on the 8th if we have nothing to delay us.
I can not give you any late news concerning the army here as we hears so many reports he does not know which to believe.
I have had but one letter from any source (that was from Uncle Daniel, dated Louisville, Ky.) since I left home. I have not, for a moment, thought that you did not write, but ascribed my failure to receive any letters to the irregularities of our mails and to the breaks in our northern communications.
If I do not find some letters at Kingston I shall be so disappointed. Had I left you in better health I would not have felt half the solicitude which it has worried me and a letter from home would have dispelled all my gloom. I hope to-night my anxiety may be relieved.
My health continues to be excellent and my worst trouble bas been blistered feet. One day on the march I was unfortunate enough to lose all my postage stamps & they are so scarce here that this can not be had for love or money consequently. I forced to enclose a 1etter to Aunt which I wish you would close in an envelope and send to her at Janesville, care A. D. Gay. I can not write to the other friends there until I do get some stamps, which will not be long, I think.
You will please give my love to all the friends and say that I think of them very often.
Accept much love for yourself and write soon too.
Your Aff. Son
Frank H. Putney
Isn't the news from Grant glorious?
Via Nashville, Tenn.
Camp 12th Vol.
3 miles north Marietta, Ga.
June 25th, 1864
The roar of Artillery
or the sharp rattle of musketry are not well adapted for composing one
serves no musket for assisting one in composition, but I greatly fear that
if I wait until I get away from the sound of, cannon, it will be a long
time before you get a letter from me, so I must need to write now with
the smoke of battle hovering over me and the unwelcome whiz, whiz of the
bullets warning me that the enemy is in view.
I do not recollect the date of my last letter to you but think it was from Noonday. I shall proceed on that supposition anyhow. From Big Shanty (Noonday R. R. Station) we advanced in line of battle and out about a mile found the enemy in strong force, too strong to be attacked in front. According the column was halted and temporary fortifications thrown up for the night. The next day we again advanced nearly a mile driving the enemy and having some very brisk skirmishing on the way. At night fortifications were again thrown up and there we lay until the 15th when a general assault was ordered along the whole line at 12 o'clock, M. Our Regt charged twice upon the rebel works, carrying the first and second line and in turn were charged upon four times by the 40th Georgia Regt. and the last time we had to fall back to the enemies first line in consequence of not being properly supported. We lost about 40 men in our Regt, two from my company. That day Gen'l Thomas captured Pine Mountain and in consequence thereof the rebels were obliged to fall back on the night of the 18th.
On the morning of the19th the whole of our Army was set in motion and, after driving the enemy about 3 miles, they again made a stand and here we re-acting the Vicksburg siege.
On the 19th two men of my company were wounded in the thigh. Our Army is still in the shape of a horseshoe, but has swung right around the enemy now being in the center. Our extreme right and left flanks are abreast of Marietta and only about 4 miles. If we can close this gap we shall have the enemy surrounded and am sure we have army enough to besiege him.
Thus far Jos. Johnston has shown a disposition to react our friendly advances and prefers rather to retreat than to be surrounded.
Sherman has shown in himself capable to cope with Johnston thus far and I have full confidence in the results of the ensuing battles, but you may not look for the fall of Atlanta before the 4th of July. Its fate is to be decided right here in the mountains. If the rebels cannot whip us here they cannot whip us at all, and they know it, and here they intend to make their final stand. It will take us some time to get ready for a general engagement. Our poor R. R. supplies is but poorly and it will take some time for the army to accumulate enough provisions and ammunition to warrant a cutting loose from our base.
So do not get impatient. Sherman is working out his own good plans in his own good time.
I suppose Uncle and Aunt have been to see you. They wrote that they intended to do so also, that they were going to Louisville, Ky. I have no postage stamps yet nor can I get any. I would like it if you would send me some. I am forced to get this letter franked, much to my chagrin. I have received but one letter from you as yet, but have had several newspapers which were very welcome. I am much rejoiced to hear that your health is so good. Hope it continues. Give my love to all and write soon.
Your affectionate son
In the trenches, 2 miles S. E. Atlanta, Ga.
July 24th 1864
I write in, the greatest
haste and have time only to assure you that I am safe and sound. The events
of the last three, days have been of too stirring a nature for me to attempt
to give you anything like a critical account of them and for the present
you must be content with a statement of general results only in my vicinity.
On the 17th and 18th inst. the "Army of the Tennessee" (15th 16th and 17th Army Corps) marched via Marietta from the extreme right to the extreme left of the army crossing the river at "Sweet Water" without opposition and then began moving South by Corps on parallel roads. Our Corps passed through Decatur early, on the morn. of the 20th and thence moved forward toward its present position. The enemy met us just outside of the town and from that time (about 9 A. M.) until dark it was a running fight in which both sides lost quite a number. At dark we found ourselves within a mile and of the enemy s main line of works having successfully carried the first line but still having in our front a third and stronger line about of 1/4 a mile distance. On the morning of the 21st the 17th Corps charged this line. Our Brigade carried that portion in their front but the other Division and the other two Brigades of our Division were repulsed. The enemy seeing this made three successive charges upon us, but were handsomely repulsed each time. My Regiment lost one hundred and sixty eight killed, wounded and missing in this days fight, and we must have inflicted as much damage up on the enemy. The 12th took fifty eight prisoners! Three of them I took.
On the 22nd the enemy renewed the engagement along the whole line, the fight lasting from one o'clock P. M. until near midnight, and is said to have been one of the severest battles of the war. The enemy successfully turned our left flank, doubling back upon us (the 17th A. C.) the 16th Army Corps and the 4th Division of our own Corps, and then cut in two the 15th Corps (next on our right) thus almost severing the "Army of the Tenn." from the remainder of the army, but fortunately the 16th Corps rallied in the rear and charging through the woods closed up the gap in the lines of the 18th Corps and thus saved the day. We were that badly beaten that just before this charge of the 16th Corps, the order for our retreat,(Army of the Tenn.) was issued but before it reached us, Dodge(16th Corps), had stopped the break in our lines and saved the army. The battle raged equally heavy on the right and in the centre, but I have not yet heard how it resulted more than that we then held our position.
Our loss was fearfully great; our killed and wounded, in places literally covering the ground. That of the enemy was quite as heavy and I think much heavier. I counted forty dead rebels lying in a little open space about fifty feet square right in front of our works. General McPherson was killed in the afternoon. Gen. Gresham was wounded; since died. Gen. Force seriously wounded and will die. Those Generals were shot within forty rods of where I was standing. On the 23rd the enemy again attacked but after the first repulse, retired to their own works. I was not wounded but had one ball pass through my coat sleeve, one grazed my nuckle, and one passed through my cartridge box. I now close and as soon as I have more time I will write you a more detailed account of the battles.
Give my love to all and reserve much for yourself.
From Your Son
F. W. Putney
The army is all right and. as confident of success, as ever. Gen.
Hood, the new rebel commander, is a fighting Gen. and will take longer
to capture Atlanta than it would if Johnston had kept command
Louisville, Aug't 5th /64
To Bro. Putney
Yours of July 31st are
one from Frank of 28th were gladly rec'd. We have reason to thank God that
he has escaped so far. He gives us a full description of his immediate
vicinity. One Ball went through his sleeve, one took the skin off his knuckle
& a third went thro his cartridge Box in which was the sheet of paper
he writes on with the hole in it. It was awful fighting - three of his
company killed & five wounded & missing. I shall go to the front
tomorrow or as near as I can get. There is a good deal of excitement here.
Gov't is arresting some of the prominent citizens here and all over the
state charged with being in a secret (I suppose Gallandingham) order to
overthrow the Govt. What are we coming to?
Business is dull with me & almost every one at present. E. is not very well for a day or two but think be will feel better when she sees Frank's letter. Love to all.
P. O. Box 1386
Camp 12th Wis. Vet. Inf.
At the Front near Atlanta, Ga.
Aug. 6th, 1864
I do not know but I will
wear your patience out, by writing to you so frequently, but as I do not
wait for responses, you see I do not expect them.
My main object in writing to you to-day is to inform you that I have just seen in the Madison Journal a ,notice that Capt. W. W. Botkin, Co. G. 12th Wis., has been commissioned Colonel of some one of the new Wis. Regts being organized there; the 42nd, I believe Capt. Botkin's promotion will, of course, create a vacancy in the Com. Officers of Co. G. and if you can assist me to a Lieutenancy I will be under infinite obligations. I presume that 1st Lieut. Warren P. Langworthy will be promoted to Captain and 2nd Lieut. Harlan P. Bird to 1st Lieut. The contests will be for the 2nd Lieutenancy. My chief opponent will probably be 3rd Sergeant Elias H. Ticknor, who will rely for aid on the influence of Hon. Walter D. McIndoe. Colonel Bryant, who is now comd'g our Brigade may possibly recommend him, but I doubt it. Lt. Colonel J. K. Proudfit commanding the Regiment last fall promised me his assistance in obtaining a Commission, and will fulfill his promise. Col. Proudfit also told Capt. Howell that he would help me all he could. A year ago this Spring when an election for 2nd Lieut. was held I beat this same Ticknor by handsome majority and think I could do it again if the question were submitted to the Co. But as you are no doubt aware, these, vacancies are filled almost entirely by favoritism, and the man who has the most influential friends wins the prize, regardless of the wishes of the Company: at least it has been so in this regiment.
Capt. Botkin is sick back at Marietta and I have not seen him in nearly a month. He is friendly to me. 1st Lieut. Langsworthy will work against me, on account of an old grudge he bears. Capt. Howell for working against him!
2nd Lieut. Bird, who is now Col. Bryant's Actg. Asst. Adj't. General will exert in my favor what influence he can. It was only this morning that I learned of Capt. Botkin was promoted, consequently I have not yet talked with either Col. Bryant or Col. Proudfit. As soon as I do so I will let you know the result of the conversation. This is as plain a statement of the case as I can now give and you can use the information as you deem best. If you act in the matter I wish you would write and let me know with what result.
The situation before Atlanta remains unchanged since my letter of the 30th. Heavy skirmishing is constantly going on, and I presume "strategic movements" are taking place at some point on the line although we, being in the center, know nothing definitely. The Army of the Tenn. has been used as a "flanking machine" so much, heretofore, that it seems odd to have, & we rest in the same riflepits. For some unaccountable reason we have not moved since the battle of the 28th, but the Army of the Ohio and other troops have been moving almost constantly.
What will be the result of their maneuvering remains to be seen. I hope it may be the capture of Atlanta. You can give my kindest regards to all of our friends and accept much love from
Your Aff. Son
Frank H. Putney.
P. S. Your last letter is received and very welcomed it was too. The stationery comes just in the "nick of time" as I was completely out. I am very much obliged.
Camp 12th, Wis. Vet. Inf.
Before Atlanta, Ga. Aug 10th, 1864
I wrote to you four days
ago informing you the probable vacancy in the Commissioned Officers of
Co. G and soliciting your assistance in my favor, also promising you additional
news which I might obtain. I can now speak more definite of my prospects.
Cap Botkin's resignation, has been accepted and he started for Wis. to-day.
He took with him a recommendation for my promotion signed by Col. Proudfit
and approved by Col. Bryant. This kind of paper is all that has been necessary
here-and-to-fore to obtain a commission for any one in the Regiment, and
have but little doubt of its success this time. Another thing in my favor
is that Captain Botkin also bears to Gov. Lewis a strong recommendation
for a commission for E. H. Ticknor in one of the new Regiments just organizing.
This removed Ticknor from my way as he could bring considerable outside
influence to bear upon the Governor, but, as you see, he proposes to exert
it in another direction than our Regiment. From present appearances I do
[more possibly implied "don't"] think I will need any outside aid at all.
Col. Bryant told me this morning that I was sure of a commission. As before, I have no news in regard to partly operations. We are still in the trenches and are almost re-enacting Vicksburg scenes. During the last week the shovel, pick and spade have almost wholly superseded the gun and bayonet and it takes but little stretch of the imagination to carry us back to the sweltering days of a year ago. We are advancing upon Atlanta in "parallel approaches" and this city, like Vicksburg is doomed. No city however strongly fortified and withstand the insidious process of a siege and the date of its surrender is or evacuation is only a question of time. The health of our Regiment is much better than it was last year at this time, although there are a good many sick, and very many wounded. When we were at Huntsville, Ala. and drew rations for 960 men: we now draw for 530! Quite a falling off is there not?
I am in receipt of letters from Mrs. Angrave and Frank B. I will answer them at my earliest convenience.
Since you have been kind enough to propose sending some tobacco, I will accept your offer by requesting you to send me some good plugs what is called "Navy Tobacco" if you can get it. Fine-cut would get too dry. As I have several more letters to write this morning I will close by begging you to accept much love from
Your Aff. Son
Frank H. Putney
Louisville, Aug't 12th 1864
Dr. Bro. Putney
Since we rec'd yours,
I have been as far as Chattanooga, but Sherman's Order brought me up "with
a round turn, I had to come back without seeing Frank.
I have just rec'd a letter from him of the 6th - they have been quiet for a week. Capt. Botkin is promoted to Lt. Col. 42nd, Wis. & Frank feels a good (deal) of anxiety (from his former treatment) about filling the vacancy - I can hardly believe Col. Bryant will do so mean an act as to consent pass him although he does some very mean things in way of appointments. There is a Serg't Ticknor in the Co that thinks he is the only one competent to fill a commission. He is a good soldier and would make a good officer but Frank is his equal at least in all respects. Ticknor depends on McIndoe to get him a Com. Now I could have as much influence with me as any one in the State but can't see the necessity of asking him. Frank's claims & qualifications ought to be enough. Frank writes me that you could get A. E. Elmore to intercede for him. Now I'd rather go from here to the Gov. in person (Whom of course I'm very familiar with) than to have him fail.
I am thinking perhaps it would be well to either go yourself or get Elmore to Madison if you are not.
[End of letter]
Camp 12th Wis. Vet Inf. Vol.
Atlanta, Ga. Aug. 21st 1864.
I write to acknowledge
the receipt of your letter of August 12th, which came to hand last evening,
I suppose. I may thank the rebels for the delay in its arrival, for you
know they have lately been trying to run the R. R. between here and Chattanooga,
but have now given it up as a bad job.
I wrote to you on the 11th inst., but, as the R. R, was OAA soon after that, I fear the letter may not have reached you, so at the risk of being tedious, I will venture to repeat.
Captain Botkin started for the North on the 10th, and his resignation was accepted at Chattanooga on the 11th. He took with him to Governor Lewis a recommendation, signed by Colonels Bryant and Proudfit for the promotion of Langworthy, Bird and myself, in regular order. The document urged upon the Governor the propriety of forwarding the commissions immediately to enable us to muster on them next muster-day; also an account of there being but ten line Officers left with the Reg't for duty, which is not proportionate to the number of men we have. Capt. Botkin also took a very strong recommendation in favor of E. H. Ticknor for a Lieutenancy in one of the new Regiments now organizing. I have no doubt but that it will procure him a commission. I hope so, for he has a severe attack of shoulder straps on the brain. Colonel Bryant told me a few days since that he had no doubt but that I would receive my Commission before the 1st of September, as, heretofore, his recommendation has never failed to procure one. I hope it may succeed this time. By a letter from Uncle D. I learn that he has forwarded to you a letter to the Gov. and I would say that I am under infinite obligation to both you and him for your kind efforts, for my advancement and I have but little doubt of success. Had I known positively that Colonel Bryant would have recommended me, I would not have troubled you.
In regard to coming home, there seems to be, at present, but little chance. No recruiting Sergeants are being sent home from this Reg't (or Army as far as I can learn) and even if there were, I would not feel like discarding an almost certainty, here to accept a doubtful contingency there no matter howsoever much it might coincide with my inclination to spend the fall at home or possibly tend to shorten my period of service. But in the event of my failure to be promoted in the 12th Wis. I will then use every endeavor to get sent to Wisconsin on the service of what you speak though it may be too late to succeed well.
The general opinion here is that no draft will occur before election and doubts in regard to the President's ability and willingness to enforce a draft are freely expressed. One thing however certain if the President does not draft in case the quota is unfilled by volunteers, he will lose very many votes in the army. The soldiers will vote for the man who will close the war soonest, or shows a desire to be he "Union", "Republican", "Democrat", "Copperhead", "Sorehead" or whatever else he may chose to style himself.
Should the President enforce & rigid draft, that will be received as good evidence in his favor, but should he postpone, postpone, and dilly dally as he did with the New York mob, and since I fear this Army, at least, will record their votes against him.
I hope the draft may occur on the day named it will help much.
In case I am promoted I shall require a supply of clothing and a sword, belt, sash, valise &c. but think I had better them in Louisville, as I understand it is an excellent market for Army Goods, and then Uncle D. could bring them when he comes to the front, (he has not come yet, nor will he until the army is to be paid.) There is no Express running yet and it would but be very unsafe to have goods sent over the road without someone to go after them. You know the enemy captured on the 22nd July thing I had except what I had on consequently I will have to complete outfit and it will probably cost from $100 to $150 and if Uncle can not get a little time on the bill, I wish you would, if possible, advance me the money until, I am paid, that I will have funds ample for all purposes. It is quite possible that I will have no occasion to call on you, but if I should I hope you may be able to accommodate me. In one of your previous letters you offered to send me some tea if I wished, I thank you, but I do not need it. We draw both tea and coffee but as this number of our cooking utensils is rather limited, the breakfast coffee kettle at supper time becomes the tea kettle and vice were and so frequent has been the transformation that, now, for the life of me, I can not tell which I am drinking! We have to enquire of the cook!
What in the world put in Julia's head the idea of going to Cal? It seems to me she is very fickle in her resolves. I supposed she was settled in Waukesha for the remainder of the war or until such times as Lyman should return. She appears to be never contented unless on the move.
We have had no such hot weather this Summer as we did last, but on the contrary have had most agreeable weather the whole time. This I suppose is an account of our being up in the mountains. This I suppose is an account of our being up in the mountains. The popular idea in the North that south of the Chattahooche the country is level plain is fallacious. It is broken as it is on the north side, but not quite so elevated. Further south it may be level. It certainly is very far from it here.
Write as soon as you get this and accept much love for, yourself & friends.
From Your Loving Son
Frank H. Putney
Did you send some Tobacco as I requested?
I received a letter from Mrs. Angreave same time, since and answered
Camp 12th Wis. Vet. Infantry Vol.
Near Atlanta, Ga. Sept 13th 1864
Upon the return of the
Army to Atlanta, Sept 9th we found a large amount of mail awaiting us and
among many other letters for me were two from you of dates Aug. 18th and
23rd and I hardly need tell you they were the most welcome of all. I also
found my Commission here but I have not mustered in on it yet as I have
been too busy. It bears rank from Aug 17th and I shall muster so as to
draw pay on it from the 1st of Sept.
The tobacco which you sent has come and is being enjoyed now. I am busily engaged in making Muster Rolls, Monthly Returns, Ordnance Reports &c. and can hardly find time to write to you must look to a future letter for a description of how we took Atlanta.
I was in the Battle before Jonesboro and got a slight scratch on the calf of my leg, nothing that interferes with my walking. The newspapers which you sent have been received and read eagerly. They are welcome. The prospect now is that the Army will rest here six weeks or so and if possible, shall get a leave of absence to come home. If I can not get leave to go outside of the Department, then I will try to Louisville. In either case I will advise you of it at the earliest possible moment. You must give my kindest regards to all and tell Julia that her letter is received. Congratulate Uncle Joseph for me and accept much love from
Your Aff. Son.
F. H. Putney
Camp 12th Wis. Vet. Vol.
East Point Ga. Sept. 14th 1864
Your letter of Sept 4th
containing one from N. M. Kline was received last evening, and as I have
a little leisure. I will reply immediately, although I wrote you only yesterday.
In my letter of yesterday I informed you of the arrival of my Commission
also the Tobacco which you sent both were here Atlanta when we returned.
You can hardly imagine how good it seems to get back and rest once more, where we no longer hear the shrill whistle of the "minnie" or the screaming of the "Parrott Shells"; to feel when you lie down at night, that you can rest all night without fear of being turned out at midnight to stand under arms one two, three, four hours, shivering with the damp and cold because some timid picket has magnified a wandering cow or stray mule into an advance of the enemy's skirmishers to feel you can walk with safety outside the cover of your breastworks without dodging upright like a man; in fact, to feel that your life no longer hangs by a thread or that every breeze is laden with Death for some one.
The day we returned to Atlanta was the 90th since we came under fire in this campaign. During that time we have been exposed to the fire of the enemy every day but five. Do you I do understand why we breathe more freely? I think you do.
Although it is 90 days since we came under fire it is over four months since we went into the field, and during that time I have not been in a house or tent nor had any shelter but a rubber blanket and have slept every night upon the ground, sometimes in 3 or 4 inches of water and all of the time lived upon coffee, hard tack and salt-pork only and above that have not been sick a day. Am I not a good soldier? It is on account of this exposure, and the consequent wear and tear that the army needs rest and the prospect now is we will have it for six weeks at least. We are camped out from Atlanta about 4 miles in a very pleasant situation, and about 2 miles from East Point.
We have constructed a new line of works and are in every way ready for the rebels should they feel disposed to try to retake Atlanta. They are welcome to the attempt.
I am very much obliged to Mr. Enos, Mr. Sellers and others for their kind remarks in regard to my letters, but my Father will good opinion is far dearer than all. My only fear is that he permits love to warp his better judgment.
So far as corresponding with M. N. Kline or Aunt Libbie is concerned, all I have to say is that they have owed me, a letter over two years! When they answer that I will think about writing again. Give my love to all and reserve much for yourself.
From Your Son
P.S. There is a good prospect of our being paid off in the course of two weeks or so and if we are I will have no occasion to trespass on your generosity. I do not know when I will get a letter of absence, but do not expect it right away as there are so many claims prior to mine.
I got Frank Brown's letter last eve. Much obliged to my pretty little cousin for her favors.
F. H. Putney
Headquarters, 12th Wis., Vols.
Nov. 9th, 1864
I write in the greatest
haste and amid the greatest confusion, as the last mail for the North (before
starting on our great expedition) leaves in 1/2 an hour.
The whole Army will leave here in a day or two abandoning the whole country South of Chattanooga and destroying everything that we can not take with us.
We are to be paid to-day but I can not send any money North as the express is broken up, so I wish you would ascertain from Uncle the amount of the Bill of goods which he purchased for me and send him the Money for me & I will send it to you as soon as, I can do so safely.
We hear various rumors as to our probable destination, but no one knows any thing certain about it.
Gen'l Blair told me to-day it would be two months before we hear anything from the North as you need look for no more letters from me in some time. I think you will next hear of us at Mobile. I am still at Hd Quarters and I am as well as usual.
Good by Dear Father: and may God bless you is the earnest prayer of
Your Loving Son
Frank H. Putney
Head Quarters 12th Wis. Vols.
Before Savannah, Ga. Dec. 16th, 1864
After so many days of
silence, I gladly avail myself of this the first opportunity of sending
a letter North I never knew what luxury there was in writing until I was
debarred the privilege. This last trip through Rebeldom has made letters
priceless boon. As you may not have seen an account of our famous raid
I will give you the chief points of interest,
Atlanta and the Rail Roads (leading from it for a distance (seventy five miles) having been destroyed, the Army consisting of the 14th, 15th, 17th and 20th Corps under Command of General Sherman moved out on the morning of the 15th November the rightwing under Gen. Howard marching on Jonesboro, and the left wing (11th & 20th Corps) under Gen. Slocum moving towards McDonough.
For four days the Army marched apparently towards Macon, inducing the enemy to concentrate his force at that point but after crossing the Ocmulgee River, it bore rapidly to the Eastward so that the right wing struck the Georgia Central R. R. near Gordon the left wing occupying Milledgeville.
While we were lying at Gordon P Gen. Kilpatarick's cavalry and Gen. Wood s Division of the15th Corps made a reconnaissance toward Macon, as far as Griswoldville. While at that place the enemy attacked Gen. Wood, but was most severely repulsed. Our loss was 79 wounded and 13 killed. The enemy's loss was reported at 1500!
From Gordon the Army moved leisurely to the East utterly destroying the R.R. as it moved along. Some little opposition was offered to our crossing the Oconee River but, enough to detain us a few, hours. We arrived at Millen the first of December, the enemy evacuating on our approach, having previously removed our prisoners to Savannah. From Millen we changed our direction to the South, but still moving along the R. R. and destroying it. At Oliver Station (44miles from Savannah) we found the rebels entrenched, but after a slight skirmish they were dislodged (and no one hurt). We arrived before Savannah on the 10th Dec. and formally invested the place on the 11th. It is strongly fortified and supposed to be garrisoned by about 12000 men under Gen. Hardie. The City is situated in a perfectly level country, and surrounded by rice plantations which the enemy has overflowed so that we can not approach within 3/4 of a mile of his works, except we wade in from two to six feet of water.
As we have captured Fort McAllister on the Ogeechee River and opened communication with our fleet, I presume we will not resume an attempt to carry the place by storm, but will closely invest it and quietly starve the enemy into a surrender. It is not supposed there is a large supply of provisions in the city.
Although we left Atlanta with but 15 days rations we lived sumptuously all the time, and still have some left. We obeyed Gen. Sherman's Order, which was to forage liberally on the country. We found corn, sweet potatoes, pork & beef of such abundance that one day's ration was issued to last five, and the troops say they never fared so well before.
The health of the Army is vastly improved, and we more and better horses and mules than when we started. We deem the expedition to have been the most successful one ever made and unless I am mistaken, in future years, to have belonged to the "Army of the Tennessee" will be considered no slight honor. I am Still at H'd. Qu'rs. as Acting Adjutant and am likely to remain for sometime. As soon as Savannah falls (?) I shall make application for a leave of absence, so you need not look for me before that time. Give my love to all the friends and reserve a large share for yourself from,
Your Aff. Son
Frank H. Putney
I forgot to say that my health has been excellent throughout the entire campaign.
Head Quarters 12th Reg't, Wis. Vol't. Inf.
Savannah Ga. Dec. 28th, 1864
Soon after our arrival
at the coast I wrote you a brief letter to let you know of my whereabouts
and intended were this to have given you a minute account of our march
through Georgia, but have been deterred on account of the press of business
in the office, so that now I presume it would be stale to you.
When I last wrote I thought to be able to visit Wis. after the fall of Savannah, but now find I can not, as no leave granted except to Officers who are unfit for duty (by reason on of sickness). Gen. Sherman no sooner ends one campaign than he begins to prepare for another, and he will not consent to Officers leaving while the Army is engaged in active operations. This is as it should be. While there is anything to do, the soldier s place is with his command, and I should regret extremely, jo be absent from my Regiment while it was engaged with the enemy.
Sieging Savannah was a much shorter operation than we anticipated would be as the enemy evacuated on the night of the 20th, our troops entering early on the morning of the 21st. Gen. Hardie withdrew his Army across the Savannah River during the night, destroying behind him, the pontoon bridges and the boats so that we could not pursue. His retreat was caused by Gen. Sherman's being about to throw on of troops across the river to occupy the only road leading from the City which we did not hold. Had Hardee stayed 48 hours longer his Army would have been sealed up. Although the Army escaped, the City I was by no means a barren capture. Aside from, its strategic importance, which is great, it contained a vast amount of military stores that the enemy was unable to remove or destroy. There fell into our hands within the city limits sixty thousand bales of cotton, (value at more than $30,000,000.00), thirty thousand tierces of rice, twenty-six R. R. engines, three hundred cars, seven small steamers coaster's, one hundred and sixty six guns and mortars of the heaviest caliber, a vast quantity of artillery ammunition and powder besides a large amount of Hay, Corn., flour., etc. Those which I have mentioned are merely the most prominent of the captures.
Savannah is the finest City I have seen in the South. is very regularly laid out, and has a number of very handsome parks. In one of the parks is a magnificent marble monument erected to the memory of Gen. Pulaski, who was killed near the City during the siege in 1779. The old Revolutionary earthworks are still to be seen and in many places have been prepared by the enemy for present use. They made but a sorry defense this last siege and it is to be hoped that they may never again be used for the protection of rebels.
There appears to be but little doubt but that Gen. Sherman in Army will go to Richmond as soon as transports come. Maj. Gen. Foster's troops will garrison the city after our departure.
I hardly know what to say in regard to a matter of much uncertainty at present, but I think there possibly may be a chance during the bad weather in the Spring when operations are suspended.
You need not look for me until I come. Then you will not be disappointed. I wish you would say to my friends in Waukesha that I will write soon. I rec'd letter from Frank Brown for which I am much obliged. I have not received any letter from you yet. Give my kindest regards to all and accept much love for your
Your Aff So.
Frank H. Putney
I am obliged to frank this letter as I am out of "stamps" and can
not procure any here.
Head quarters 12th Wis. V. Inf.
Beaufort, S. C. Jan'y. 10th 1865
I am still without any
letters from home although a month has elapsed a since we reached the coast.
Do you wonder at my growing impatient? I have written to you already times
and have received in return only some "Freemen" and " Tribunes" dated early
in November. They came during the siege of Savannah.
As you see, we have again changed, our station being now at Beaufort, on Port Royal Island. We marched from Savannah on the 4th inst., to Thunderbolt (8 miles) on Warsaw Sound where we embarked on the Ocean Steamer S. R. Spaulding, but did not get underweigh until about noon of the 5th inst.
As the wind was blowing rather strong the "Spaulding" was obliged to put out to sea a considerable distance, and the trip was thus lengthened several hours. This being my first voyage on salt water, it was quite a new experience to me, and I enjoyed it hugely. I was not really seasick, though I must admit that some of the meals I paid for were scarcely more than forms, and that I let the Steward have a good Margin on them. A large number of the troops were very sick.
On our passage up we saw Hilton Head and Port Royal. The are mere villages, inhabited mostly by Jews and freed negroes and derive their entire importance from the Army trade. We arrived here early in the morning of the 6th, and disembarking, marched out to our present camps about two miles from town. The 17th Army Corps is all here and the 15th A. C. is said to be on the way. These Corps are being brought here in order to be nearer the supplies at Hilton Head. The whole of Port Royal, Island has been sold by the U. S. Government for taxes and is now owned by so-called "Union men"; that is to say Jews, and men who have left the North to evade the draft consequently everything is under Gov't. protection. There are a dozen or more of stores and goods are sold at vary reasonable prices. I got a good pair of boots for $12.00, a pair of trousers for, $8.00, etc. At Savannah the prices were exorbitant.
Those who are best informed think we will remain here three or four weeks and then set out on another campaign. Strange as it may seem, I am anxious to be again on the march. Nothing else suits me as well. We have been in an active campaign for nearly nine months we have marched more than a thousand miles, have been engaged in some of the heaviest battles of the war, have captured as many prisoners, (and more guns) than the Regiment numbers, besides two battle flags. Is not that a good record for a Regiment, and ought not it to give one a taste for life in the field? It has given me one, at last, I hope we may go to Charleston, as I think the "Army of the Tennessee" can take it.
I am in hopes that letters may arrive before we leave this post. They are the connecting link between the Army and civilization, the golden chain which binds us to home. Do not let it be broken!
Give my regards to all and say that I am very busy or would write. I will endeavor to attend to the claims of my friends soon.
Accept my love and write soon to
Your Affectionate Son.
Frank H. Putney
Lt. & A. Adjutant
12th Wis. V. Infantry
Head Quarters 12th Wis. V. Inft.
Pocotaligo, S. C., Jan'y 31st, 1865
I write in great haste.
We start tomorrow morning on another one of Sherman s great raids. The
entire Army the move but our destination is as usual, unknown, Charleston
is spoken of as our objective point. Branchville will be the first point
for which we will strike, and the intention it give South Carolina a "warming."
I am still Acting Adjutant and am as well as I ever was in my life but not in the best of humor as I have received no my letters from you since leaving Atlanta.
Accept much love for self and friends from
Your Aff. Son
Frank H. Putney
Head Quarters 1st Brigade
3rd Division, 17th Army Corps
Raleigh, N.C., April 26th, 1865
Your letter of April 16th
has just arrived, when I tell you it is the first one since last January,
you can perhaps, imagine how welcome it was. I had nearly given up hope
of hearing from you, as the time has seemed very long.
I wrote to you last week, and then hope to be able, ere this, to announce that peace had actually been made but it seems we have to wait yet a little longer. President Johnson has refused to ratify the terms a read upon between Generals Sherman and Johnston, and we have again resumed hostilities. The decision of the President has been a great disappointment to us as we of the Army have the utmost confidence in the justness of any agreement which General Sherman may make and relied confidently upon the terms of surrender proving acceptable to the authorities at Washington. The Army marched out from Raleigh yesterday and we are now at Morrisville Station on the R. R.
Lieut. Gen. Grant is here and has gone with Gen., Sherman to confer with the Rebel leaders, and if satisfactory terms not agreed upon to-day, we will march against the enemy to-morrow.
It is the universal opinion that a satisfactory arrangement will be made at this conference. I hope so, at no other war news to communicate at present. In my last letter I informed you that I was "A. A. A. General" to Gen. Ewing, Comd'g 1st Brig. 3rd Div. 17th A. C, I am still on the Staff in that capacity. It is very laborious as the Brigade is a large one, membering about 3000 men. It is the largest Brigade in this Army.
I received a letter from Uncle Daniel tonight. He & Aunt were well, but complains as usual of my not writing have written every time I had an opportunity. No one could more.
I suppose Mary Kline must be a young lady now. I am much obliged to her for her kind interest in me.
I am waiting for a letter from Julia and Franklie, but would much rather see them. Where is Lyman now? Still in Virginia?
Now that your letters have commenced coming I shall expect many and will write often myself.
Give my love to all and reserve for yourself.
From Your Aff. Son
Frank H Putney
Direct to 12th,Wis. V. Inf.
17th Army Corps
Via New York
Head Quarters 1st Brig 3rd Div. 17 A. C.
Near Petersburg, Va. May 8th 1865
In my last letter to you
from Raleigh I told that we were about to march to Richmond and as you
see by the heading of this letter we are now nearly there to-day.
We left Raleigh on the 30th ult. and arrived here resting two days on the route thus having marched 150 miles in seven days, which we consider fair travelling. Tomorrow will march to Richmond. What may be our fate after that I do not know, but rumor says, we are to march to Washington; there to be reviewed by the President, Lt. General Grant and others and then mustered out. A consummation devoutly to be wished we say particularly as regards the muster out.
We have read with surprise and indignation the slanderous articles which the Northern Newspapers are articles against Gen. Sherman. If the pot-gutted patriots who write them would take more pains to enquire into the merits of the case, they would not be in such haste to condemn.
These valiant quill drivers ignore fact that Stanton has long been considered as hostile to Gen. Sherman, and, fearing him as a future political antagonist, anxiously watched for an opportunity to give him a stab. They accept his dispatch to as law and gospel and fail to see that the account of such conferences as the one held near Raleigh have here-to-fore been kept religiously as State Secrets. Stanton does not censure strongly in words, but implies much, much more than the case warrants, as he leaves you to infer that Gen'l Sherman knew of the intent of the government whereas he only knew the terms given by Grant to Lee and his Army, (he gave the same in substance Johnston and his Army) and that Gen'l Weitzel had issued an order convening the Legislature of Virginia, but did not know that Weitzel's order had been revoked by the President. It was on the supposition that that order was sanctioned by the Government that he proposed to do the same thing in the Carolinas and Georgia, Although General Sherman fame is now under a cloud, we of his Army are firm in the belief that the shadow is but temporary, and that the day is not far distant when he will be triumphantly pronounced innocent of the slanderous accusations brought against him.
I have written thus freely in the hope you will not join in the "hue and cry" against our Chieftain. Perhaps my words may fail to carry conviction, but if so, it will not be from a lack of belief in their truthfulness on my part. The Secretary of War would probably dismiss us all from the Service should hear our discussions of the subject, and I would not even to have this letter fall into his hands, for you know it is a most serious offence against Military Law to speak disrespect fully of any of your superior Officers.
I have no news to tell you except that my position on the Staff has been changed from A. A. A. General to that of Ass't Inspector Gen'l, which is one of much less labor. The change was made in consequence of the General desiring a Captain as A. A .A. Gen. instead of a Lieut., and it was quite agreeable to me.
You had better address your next letters to 12th Wis. Vet. Inf. - 17th Army Corps via New York. Then they will come direct.
You must give much love to Julia and Frank for me, and accept much for yourself. In the hope of a speedy reunion, remain
Your Affectionate Son
Frank H., Putney
Head Qu'rs 1st Brig. 3rd Div. 17 A. C.
Washington D. C. May 25th, 1865
Yesterday was the proudest
day of my life. Our Veteran Army was reviewed by the President, his Cabinet,
the foreign Ministers, and the prominent Generals of our, Army and the
praise which Gen. Sherman received was flattering enough to turn the head
of any one. The Army of the Potomac passed in review the day before and
acquitted itself handsomely.
Which did the best I will not pretend to say. Both marched splendidly, and the immense crowds of "fair women and brave men" testified their admiration by strewing flowers in our path, and almost covering us with bouquets as if in this triumphal march, to make us forget all, past dangers and hardships. Never again do I expect to see so brilliant assembly. Pennsylvania Avenue was filled throughout its entire length with elegantly dressed ladies who cheered us with their smiles, and presence, while each seemed to outvie, the other in attentions. Words can not do the so on a justice.
We are now camped about four miles out from the City and are "awaiting orders." What is to be done with the Army in not known, but the Government will probably announce the programme in a few days.
The War Dept has ordered the muster out of all men whose time expires by the 30th of September 1865, from which one might infer that all others were to be retained. There is a report that the Veterans are to be retained, and if quite current that the "Veterans" are to be retained, and if that is so I can not leave the service as I am one of that class or was when promoted.
General Leggett offered to recommend me for a Commission in the Regular Army, and if I though I had to remain in service much longer I would accept of his offer. What do you think of it? Would it suit you to have me in the Army for life?
I received a letter from you last night, also one from Frankie which I will answer in a few days. I have not seen Lyman Brown, although I presume he is here. If I knew his Div. and Corps, I would look him up. Give much love to Julia P. M. and Frank and say that I am well and think of them often.
I am still Gen. Ewing's Inspector General.
Give my regards to all and accept much love.
From Your Aff. Son.
Frank H. Putney
Head Qu'rs 1st Brig. 3rd Div., 17th A. C.
Louisville, Ky. June 13th, 1865
Yours of the 4th inst.
has just arrived and I hasten to reply and return thanks.
I arrived in Louisville yesterday with the Command having left Washington on the 7th inst. We came over the Baltimore Ohio R. R. to Barkersburg Va. where we embarked on boats and altogether had a very pleasant trip.
I was three days on the cars, and that was by far the most tedious portion of the journey. The road runs over the Allegheny Mountains, and the scenery is grand beyond comparison, but having to sit bolt upright in the cars for three entire days, takes away from one the power to enjoy anything.
It was not until I got on the boat that I could realize I had rode over a mountain 2700 feet in height. I made a hasty call on Uncle and Aunt yesterday and found them well and of course much pleased to see me. Aunt says she feels twenty-five years younger since my return. I hope my return may rejuvenate you as well. Uncle and Aunt are living quietly and unostentatious, and appear to enjoy themselves. How well business succeeds with them I can not say, but I should judge very fairly.
We are still wrapped in a cloud of uncertainty as to our future Military fate. No one ventures as yet to predict what is to become of the Army that is assembling here, but the opinion is that it will not be mustered out at present appears to be gaining ground. I fail to see what object the Government can have in retaining so large an Army.
If the desire is to increase the Regular Army, it can be done soonest by disbanding the Volunteers. After they have been out of service two months, one third of these men would reenlist. You have merely to give them an opportunity to go home and spend what they have already earned.
So far as my entering the Regular Army is concerned, the case is simply here. I have no objections to the Service, whatever, on the contrary I like it extremely well, but do not think I would like it for life, and unless I do intend to remain, I do not think it advisable to spend many more of my younger years in the Army or when I do withdraw, I shall come out a middle-aged man without the slightest business knowledge or capacity whom unfitted for business pursuits. Of course, I would expect not higher than a Lieutenancy now, and after the war, promotions will be very slow and then too as you suggest I might be assigned to the command of a black garrison, or be stationed at somewhere on the frontier to drag out a monotonous life watching for Indians and other "varmint" debarred of the privilege of ever seeing you and cut off from all the amenities of civilized life.
For these and other reasons, I declined the General's very kind offer. I trust I decided for the best. It was a very momentous question with me, I assure you.
While in Washington I read a letter from Lyman Brown which I answered, but did not have an opportunity of seeing him.
Are Julia and Frankie still with you? You do not say in your last. Give them much love, and accept the some for yourself, from
Your Affectionate Son
Frank. H. Putney
AUTHOR Putney, Frank H.
TITLE Papers [microform] , 1859-1865.
: MAD 1V/Mss Box 38
CALL NO. Micro 73