1861-64: Uzziel Franklin Putnam to Sarah Markham

These four letters were written by Uzziel Franklin Putnam (1844-1905), the son of Ira Horace Putnam (1797-1847) and Mary (“Polly”) Alice Markham (1799-1880) of Cass county, Michigan.

Uzziel served as a private in Co. K, 6th Michigan Infantry. This regiment was converted into the 6th Michigan Heavy Artillery in July 1863. The regiment began its service in Baltimore, Maryland, where they were attached to Dix’s Command. In the spring of 1862, they sailed with Butler’s New Orleans Expedition and remained in the western theatre throughout the remainder of the war. Uzziel was wounded in the right heel by a musket ball on 29 May 1863 in the assault on Port Hudson and spent the next nine months convalescing and afterwards working as a nurse at the University Hospital in New Orleans. He was discharged from the service in early February 1864.

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TRANSCRIPTION LETTER 1
Addressed to Miss Sarah Markham, Henderson, Knox county, Illinois
Postmarked Balimore, Maryland

Dec. 19th 1861

Dear Cousin

I received your kind and much looked for letter about 15 minutes ago and have seated myself to this rude bench to answer it. I have also written you a letter which is on the road before this one. I am very much obliged to you for your kind advice and will try to profit by it. Do not trouble yourself too much about the fate of our country for the rebels cannot stand out long against the force that is now against them unless some other Nation sets in with them. But the United States of America can stand against the united forces of the world.

You spoke of snow and rain where you are but we [do not] have any snow to speak of here.

It is now roll call and I will have to wait until morning to finish this scrawl.

It is now morning and a very beautiful morning it is too, and has all the appearance of a warm day. And the hammers and saws of the carpenters at work on the barracks makes me think that we will soon have a house to live in in a little while. There is not a great deal of war news now. You said that butter was 80 cents per pound. Here it is 25 cents a pound and we have to pay from 6 to 10 cents a bundle for all the straw that we buy and apples are 5 cents apiece.

You spoke of having to write on a big sheet of paper. That is what I like to see. I am very thankful that you wrote me so long a letter. You will have to excuse me from writing a long letter for you know that I never do that. I dreamed last night that we had all got our discharge from the service and went home and seen mother and all the rest of our folks and then woke up with the sad consolation of laying here on the straw crowded up between two soldiers. But I will see the day some time that I will be free if I am any judge of human nature.

If I ever do get free again, you may look for me out there for I mean to cross the plains if I live long enough and I will stop to see the folks as I go along there so keep up good spirits for this war will soon be over and peace will be restored to this sunny clime. Then I will go home and pursue my studies but not until then will I leave the service of Uncle Sam—if I live and keep my health.

Excuse my bad writing and spelling. You know that I am not a very good scholar anyhow. Give my respects to all inquiring friends and my love to all the girls that I ever knew. No more at present. From your friend and cousin, — Uzziel F. Putnam


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TRANSCRIPTION LETTER 2

University Hospital
Ward D, No 196
New Orleans, La.
July [August] 2nd 1863

Dear Cousin,

I take this opportunity to write to you once more. I wrote you a letter the 6th of June and have not received an answer yet. I have not heard from home for over (3) three months. I have heard from cousin Israel Markham. He is in the 2nd Illinois Cavalry and seen some of my company at Port Hudson. His regiment has gone up to Vicksburg.

My heal is good at present and my wound is getting along well. There was 210 killed and wounded in our regiment the 29th of May at Port Hudson but we have [finally] got the place, thank God. But I tell you, we paid dear for it. But we will have to overlook that now. It can not be helped. But I am alive and doing well after it and now I look back on that day with a shudder. Such suffering I never saw before and I hope that I never shall see it again. I was ashamed of myself when I saw how much more some of their sufferings was than mine and I don’t think that mine hurt near as bad as it would if there had been no one else wounded. But it is all over with now and I can get around on my foot once more.

It is pretty healthy in New Orleans now and this summer has not been very warm so far. We have had a great deal of rain here all summer. There is not much news to write now that is interesting—only gold has fallen 27 percent since the fall of Vicksburg and Port Hudson. They seem to think that Uncle Sam’s notes are good for something after all.

New Orleans has got to be quite a business place once more and I can tell you on that it is not a very bad-looking place. Anyway, there is some handsome places in it. Please write and tell me all the news that you can think of and tell me especially of the person that asked you for my likeness and give her my best respects whoever she is. And tell me all about the folks that I know there. I tell you, Sarah, I should like to be there to see the folks once more and I am in hopes that I shall be sometime or other. It will be some time before I will be fit for duty again and they might give me a furlough as well as not if they was a mind to but I don’t suppose they will. But if they do, I think I shall see you this fall or winter as I will have to come almost by there to go home and come back again. But pray, don’t look for me till I come for I might slip up on a furlough. But write as soon as you get this and let me know how you are getting along.

And now I will bring these few lines to a close. Excuse all mistakes and the bad writing. y pen is good, my ink is blue, but my hand trembles when I think of Miss —- Oh well, never mind. It is a girl in Michigan and it would not done you any good to know and if you write soon, you shall hear from me again. Give my respects to all enquiring friends.

No more at present. — Uzziel F. Putnam

To my cousin, Miss Sarah Markham


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TRANSCRIPTION LETTER 3
Addressed to Mr. Charles Markham, Henderson, Knox county, Ills.
Postmarked New Orleans, La.

University Hospital
New Orleans
November 13, 1863

My Dear Cousin,

I received your very kind letter of the 10th of October. It found me well & I am in hopes this will find you the same. My foot gets along rather low but I think it will be all right in course of time. You spoke of my getting a furlough. I don’ know as I can do that but my time will soon be out and then it won’t be long before I exit or I’ll [stay] for I like the country very well, if not more. But I would like to get a furlough and if I should, I will come there before I come back. I am acting as nurse now in this hospital and the doctor says that he is a going to keep me all winter.

There was a good many wounded men came in here the other day that was wounded the third of this month somewhere between here and Texas. ¹ You spoke of Henry’s being here and going to Texas. I have not seen him yet but [if] his regiment has gone there, it was not in the fight on the third. There was only one brigade in the engagement and the rebels was 4 or 5 to one and of course they beat us. That one brigade was about 9 miles in advance of the main army but I will say nothing more about that. There is no more news of any consequence here now.

I have not heard from home for a long time. The last time that I did hear from there, our folks was all well. I cannot finish this now as I must see to my men.

November 16th—I will [try] to finish this short letter. There is nothing new here except that the news is that Charleston is burning up. The last dispatch was that it had been burning for 63 hours.

I got a letter from James the other day. He had been home on a furlough. His folks were all well and doing well. Fredy was going 2½ miles to school. James talks of selling out next spring and settling on the late purchase that the government made of the Osage Indians. It is the only country in the United States that is not settled. I have thought some of going there myself when I get out of this. I think it is the best place that anyone can go to to get a home.

Please write soon and tell me all about everything and more too. And now I must stop writing as it is dinner time and I can’t think of anything more to write. No more at present. From your cousin, — Uzziel F. Putnam

To Miss Sarah Markham


¹ Putnam is probably referring to the Battle of Bayou Bourbeaux (or Battle of Carrion Crow Bayou) that was fought in southwestern Louisiana near the town of Grand Coteau. Six thousand confederate troops assaulted 1,625 Union troops and captured the 67th Indiana Infantry.


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TRANSCRIPTION LETTER 4
Addressed to Mr. Charles Markham, Henderson, Knox county, Ills.
Postmarked Springfield, IL

Jefferson [Michigan]
March 19th [1864]

My Dear Cousin,

I have taken this opportunity to write you a few lines. It is so confounded cold here that the tea kettle freezes up on the stove (that is, if there is no fire in the stove) and that pretty quick too. We got a letter from James the other day. He got back on the 13th of March to his regiment. He said that you had just recovered from a spell of diphtheria and I said also that there was a good deal of sickness around there now.

Sarah, I am out of the service once more and I think I shall see Illinois in the course of a year or so. I want to go to school a year anyway before I leave Michigan for good. Then I mean to find me a home farther west than this is. I can go to school this year while my foot is getting well and there won’t be much time lost by it. I guess you will think by this writing that there is need of my going to school 3 or four years for me to learn anything.

My health is perfectly good now and my foot is getting better all the time. Mother is as well as common and the rest of the family is well except Ira J’s little boy. He has been pretty sick but is better now. The little girl has had the diphtheria (the oldest one) but is over it now.

There is no news here to write at present—only it is cold as lightning. I guess that it will be winter here all summer. But never mind. Perhaps summer will be here before long.

Now Sarah, I want you to write to me as soon as you get this and tell me all the news there is and don’t forget any for I am rather lonesome and want something to think of. I should like to come out there this spring but I can’t do it. Give my respects to inquiring friends if there is any. But I guess if there is anything, it is only the place there is any.

Tell Curtis Kinion if you see him that I would be very glad if he would write me a letter. I should like to hear from him very much. Give my love to the family. No more at present. From your cousin. Please excuse my hasty writing.

— Uzziel F. Putnam

To Miss S. A. Markham

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