1863-64: Charles Edward Putnam to Mary “Ella” Fawcett

These letters were written by Capt. Charles “Edward” Putnam (1839-1913) of the 13th Iowa Infantry. Edward entered the service as a corporal in the regiment in October 1861. He was commissioned a 2d Lieutenant in November 1861 and a 1st Lieutenant in April 1862. In March 1863, Edward was promoted to captain of his company.

Edward was born in Nashua, New Hampshire on 10 July 1839, the son of Gideon Putnam (1799-1879) and Sally Rice (18xx-1878). Edward came to Iowa with his parents in 1854 who purchased a farm in Fremont township, Benton county. Upon his arrival in Iowa in 1854, Edward found employment as a clerk in Cedar Rapids. The following year, 1855, he started north on a hunting expedition with William H. Ingham of New York, going to what is now Kossuth county, Iowa. He remained there three years, making a living hunting game. When he returned to his parents home in 1858, he entered Western College and then taught school until the Civil War erupted.

While serving with the 13th Iowa Infantry, Edward participated in the Battle of Shiloh; the Siege and Battle of Corinth, in which he lost his horse; the Battle of Iuka; and the second Battle of Corinth where he was mentioned for his fearless service. He then went with his regiment down the river to Vicksburg and took part in the siege and battles around that stronghold. In October 1863, Edward was made judge advocate for the district of Vicksburg, then under the command of General McPherson, with whom he remained until 1864 when he returned home on a leave of absence. In May 1864, he was detailed by the War Department as mustering officer and assigned to the 4th Division of the 17th Army Corps, serving on the staff of Major-Generals Walter Q. Gresham, Giles A. Smith, and W. W. Belknap in that capacity until mustered out on 2 November 1864.

In the fighting before Atlanta on 22 July 1864, Edward “fought bravely” with his regiment, losing both of his lieutenants, and most of his men. “Captain Putnam was held in high regard by his fellow officers, and by his many soldierly qualities, won the hearts of his company and always retained their respect and friendship. When the first regiment of colored troops was raised, he was offered the colonelcy but declined, and at the close of the war, without solicitation on his part, was offered the rank of Major in the regular army.”

While he was at home on furlough, Edward was married on 29 March 1864 to Mary “Ella” Fawcett (1847-1914), the daughter of Jonathan Fawcett (1807-1873) and Caroline ____. It is to her that all of the letters presented here were written, both before (in 1863) and after their marriage (in 1864).

Mentioned frequently in Edward’s letter is Ella’s brother Asa H. Fawcett (b. 1842) who served in Co. C, 47th Iowa (100 days service) in 1864.

After the war, Edward went into the mercantile business, worked as county register, and  as a bank cashier. He died at Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on 23 May 1913.

[Editor’s Note: The reader should be aware that the the author of these letters frequently and unpredictably jumps back and forth between the first and third person while writing. It can be somewhat annoying and confusing but remember that there is only one “Edward” and that is the author himself.]


Camp 13th Iowa Vol. Infantry
Holmes’ Plantation, La.
May 3rd 1863

Dear Friend Ella:

It has come at last — the long anticipated letter. When the mail came last evening three letters were handed to Ed, and he was at a loss for some time to know who could have sent so delicate a missive from Cedar Rapids. But he was not long in breaking the seal and at once glancing to the bottom of the page when there was the name he most wished to see.

I am sorry that you feel embarrassed when writing to me for I feel no more constraint when writing you than when writing to Clara, for I have always regarded you as a sister; and never did I respect a family higher than I do “Square Fawcett’s.”

I am happy that I am able to make my letters acceptable to you and shall endeavor to make my correspondence with you a mutual benefit to us. So long as I continue to hold correspondence with [your brother] Asa and your father, I shall not trouble you with much army news as I shall consider such news of more interest to them than it would to you.

Perhaps you’re right in your conjecture as regards the indifference of Jerry towards the “Squire’s daughter,” for he has never mentioned your name to me in any of his letters. Jerry is a good, kind-hearted fellow, but is too easily discouraged. I shall always like him for I admire his manly principles.

You think it strange that I should feel an interest in your welfare because I never showed you particular favor and that you never revealed me your thoughts. Now such need not necessarily be the case because of the reasons assigned; for I had sufficient cause for not expressing more openly my ardent desires. But I hope hereafter to be permitted to form a more intimate acquaintance with you should it prove desirable to Ella. As regards my thoughts for you — of which you make mention in the letter before me, I do not think it proper as yet to express them but will promise that you shall know all in time.

Whether I will be able to visit home this summer, I do not know. So long as Gen. [Marcellus Monroe] Crocker remained with us, I had hopes. But now that he is gone, I shall consider my case of leaving a little doubtful. However, I shall not despair of obtaining a leave until I am assured that one cannot be obtained.

You request me to say whether I find much love in your letter — as such is usually understood, I cannot say that I find it very different from any letter of friendship; but I am pleased with it and will be satisfied if I never receive one less friendly.

I am sorry that Ellen F. should mistake your letters for hers and will endeavor to direct those that I send in a manner which will leave no doubts as to who they are for. She may get the one I sent a few days ago as it was directed the same as the first sent you, not having received the caution sent in your letter of the 17th.

Monday afternoon. 4th

When I stopped writing last evening, I thought I would let suffice for a letter what is written preceding this, but today meeting with some old friends, Howard P., James Cowell, and a number of others, I thought I must say a little more as I learned some things from them concerning me which I had never heard before and which, I presume, I should never have learned, only through them.

[Letter unsigned, probably missing a page]


Camp 13th Regt. Iowa Infantry
Grand Gulf, Mississippi
May 15th 1863

Dear Friend Ella:

We are a long distance apart and it requires a long time for our letters to pass from one to the other and as I am anxious to hear from you quite often, I have presumed to write you thus early again without waiting for a reply to my last, hoping by thus doing to be able to arrange our correspondence so that we may receive letters from each other at least every two weeks — provided it please you to write to me that often.

Since my last letter sent you, our brigade has traveled about 40 miles and as you perceive by the date of this letter, is at Grand Gulf, which is at the confluence of Big Black River with the Mississippi about 50 miles south of Vicksburg. It is a place of great natural strength and is being rapidly strengthened with new fortifications by our troops.

Our gunboats had an engagement here with the enemy which lasted five and a half hours before obliging them to acknowledge a defeat which they did by evacuating during the night following the bombardment. But one prisoner and six siege guns were captured, the rest being taken away by the Rebs. Their works mounted sixteen guns in all. Before leaving, they blowed up their magazines — three in number — destroying all their ammunition. It is a severe loss to them and one not easily retrieved.

We were called into line this morning at three o’clock, having rested on arms all night, expecting an attack from a cavalry force which is reported hovering near us. Our force here is small, only about 3,000. There are 300 wounded soldiers here who were wounded at the fight at Port Gibson some two weeks ago. This place is of great importance to us, it being the depot for all the supplies for this Southern Army. It is about 75 miles from Jackson where the main army is at present.

I have this moment been told by Capt. Hogin — who has just returned from on board the gunboat Albatross where he has been visiting the commander, his friend — that the commander of the gunboat Louisville informed him that the steamer Forest Queen had arrived with the news that Warrenton is in flames and Vicksburg is being evacuated. If this proves true, we have gained an important victory and I think that Gen. Grant will be able to capture a great many prisoners. Should this, together with the news that Richmond is taken prove true, it will cause much rejoicing throughout the army and give new stimulus to the soldiers in the field — for prospects for a meeting with their friends at home ‘ere long will seem to look bright.

If we are successful in avoiding a war with England for another year, I shall feel confident that by that time, peace will be restored and all the boys at home. But I presume that I am annoying you with so much war news so will endeavor to write something better suited to please a lady.

Saturday Evening, May 16th 1863

I found it impossible to finish my letter last evening so i will resume again this evening.

The report received last night about Vicksburg and Warrenton has been confirmed by dispatches this evening. Also that Gen. Grant is in possession of Jackson, Mississippi. Never has there been such exciting times among soldiers since I came into the army as there is at the present time. All are anxiously and eagerly waiting for news from Richmond which i hope may prove cheering.

Have you met with Miss Sudie Eberhart ¹ this spring? I guess she don’t entertain a very exalted opinion of Ed just now. I haven’t written a line since the 15th of February to her. My correspondence with her was a pleasure until it became necessary in my judgement to discontinue the same.

Why [your brother] Asa refuses to write me, I cannot imagine. It is now more than six weeks since I have heard a word from him. Some of my friends have written me that Asa is considerably affected over the marriage of Miss Abby R.  It is singular to me that he should allow his memory to reprove him for his past attachment with her, for I am confident that had he wished, he could have secured her hand as he already possessed her heart — at least this is my opinion of his case.

I was told some news the other day which surprised me much; it is that Melvin T. and Eliza H. are about to perfect their final happiness of uniting their interests into one common welfare. How the people and place will be changed by the time I get home. I am afraid it will not seem to me like the home I left. I presume all the boys and girls that I left as friends will be keeping house ‘ere that time, and Ed left to mourn over his fate as a bachelor. Well, I have this consolation to cheer me, and that is that I can have the privilege of visiting Mr. & Mrs. Fawcett occasionally and having a good old familiar chat with them, for I believe they will always remain the same kind friends to me that they have ever been.

Who will teach your school this season? Did you like Miss Junk as a teacher? Clare used to speak of her frequently when writing me — but I haven’t hears about her lately.

My respects to the whole family. And believe me to be, your best friend, — Edward P.

(Direct as before)

Please write me often, friend Ella, for I assure you that your letters are looked for with interest. E. P.

¹ Susan (“Sudie”) Ebenhart (b. 1841) was the daughter of Abraham and Esther Ebenhart of Eldorado, Benton county, Iowa. We learn from the content of these letters that Edward used to correspond with her and that they may have had a special affection for each other at one time.


Camp 13th Iowa Infantry
Clinton, Mississippi
July 17th 1863

Dear Friend Ella:

I had begun to think Ella had forgotten her absent friend, Ed — until a few days ago when a letter came from her with the date of June 28th. I am always very anxious to hear from you and when a long time passes without the receipt of a letter, I imagine a thousand things, wondering if you are tired of our correspondence, or if I have failed to please you. As regards your showing my letters to your friends, I have no objections if there is anything in them of interest to others. I do not intentionally write anything of which I am ashamed to have anyone read; perhaps there are things in them occasionally which had not better be too widely circulated, but I leave the matter to your discretion.

My Fourth of July passed off very quietly. Our brigade lay at a ford on Black River all day watching the movements of  Gen. Johnston’s troops on the opposite side of the river.

Frank has never shown me your miniature nor have I seen a likeness of you taken since I came away since I have been in the army. I expect you have changed very much since I left you and am anxious to know how you look; but presume I shall have to wait until my return. I was greatly surprised to learn that you had not imagined what possesses a woman to shear her head of her greatest ornament — and you had such beautiful hair that it seems a pity that you should have done it.

Evening, July 19th

Do you begin to think that after all the promises I have made about going home this summer that I am not going to fulfill them? It really looks so now — but I assure you that were it possible, I should have been at home ‘ere this. It is very true that many officers are going home all the time; and it looks singular that among so many chances, I cannot obtain the privilege of leaving. But to get a leave of absence one must be sick, or pretend to be, and my principles will not allow me to resort to false statements to obtain even so great a wished for pleasure.

To say that I am contented would be false, for I have anticipated so much happiness from a visit that to be deprived of it makes me quite discontented — and you know that, “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick” — and certainly I have hoped long enough to go home, as my letters will testify. However, I still hope on believing that my turn will come after awhile.

You don’t know how much I want to see you and I am afraid that when I get a chance…

[unsigned letter; missing second sheet]


Camp 13th Regiment Iowa Infantry
Vicksburg, Mississippi
September 22, 1863

My Very Dear Ella:

Although I am nearly tired to death tonight from the effect of my hard day’s work, still I am never too fatigued to not be able to write a word of love to my dear Ella.

I have been writing all day — making out official papers — and leaning over the desk so much in one day has made my breast quite sore, besides causing a pain in my head and also making me very nervous. I have all the writing I shall be able to do within the next two or three weeks, and today an order came from Genl. McArthur for me to report to him tomorrow morning at 10 o’clock as a member of a board of survey to convene at Vicksburg.

My 2d Lieutenant, James E. White, started for home this afternoon on a leave of absence for twenty days. He goes to Vinton. It is just like him to get married. The only reason he will leave if he does not, will be because he hasn’t money enough with him. He left with a little over two hundred dollars.

I wrote to Jerry last evening for him to come and see me. He is only about twelve miles from here and has a better opportunity of visiting me than I have him.

I am shamed to send you the enclosed photograph — it is such a poor thing. But it is the best I can do for the present. It is larger than I wanted it and shows more of the person than I had intended to have it. Besides, I don’t think it is a natural likeness. It was too late in the day to get a good type.

It is about time for me to have a letter from you. It is now fifteen days since I left home and I want to hear from my Ella very much. Think if you were obliged to wait fifteen days without receiving a letter from Edward — don’t you imagine it would be quite a punishment — one I hope I shall never be obliged to inflict.

I wrote to Sudie Eberhart an evening or two ago apologizing for my neglecting to go and see her again. I guess she thinks Ed don’t intend to give her his heart or he would have said something about it when he was at home. I doubt whether you made a good exchange when you gave me your heart in exchange for my worthless one, for I believe yours is the largest. Certainly I have never felt so happy as I have since your acknowledgement of love for me. I wonder if Ella misses her Edward as much as he does her. How he would like to drop into the Squire’s some evening and surprise them all.

Don’t forget your likeness — and I want it to look just like your own sweet self. Has mother Fawcett said anything about our affairs? Tell me all. Write often. Your love, — Edward

I will write [your brother] Asa soon. Love to all the family.


Camp 13th Regiment Iowa Infantry
Vicksburg, Mississippi
September 23rd [1863]

My Dear Ella:

I came home tonight very tired and with a hard headache — but when I saw a letter from Ella lying on my desk, my ills were forgotten and I was at once made a very happy fellow. It came quite unexpectedly for I had not expected one for  number of days yet. You can’t imagine how it makes me feel to get a letter from you. It almost seems as though you were talking to me. I would like to take you in my arms and give you a good kiss for your sweet letter. It is just such a letter as I had wished for — you could not have suited me better had you tried a dozen times.

I have felt much relieved since I have read what you say about your mother. I shall strive very hard to please her as well as yourself. I have not imagined that she had so good an opinion of me — although I believed before that she loved me — but as a son is more than I deserve.

Do not flatter me too much Miss Ella for I am proud enough already. I do not know what i have done that your family should love me more than any other young man of their acquaintance — and as regards your loving me, I certainly hope that you may never think less of me. I shall ever try to conduct myself in a manner worthy of your love.

I shall not stay away from my Ella two years if I can help it. Remember I have only one year longer to serve and if I live to see that time pass, I will return to you to gladden your heart again.

You make a wrong assertion when you say that I am not hard to please for on the contrary, I am very hard to please. And no one but Ella does, or could have, suited me. And I don’t think I won you easily for have I not persevered for three long years? And had I any assurance that you would have accepted me any sooner? I was afraid that I had not waited long enough when I proposed to you. But it seems that your heart had been at work as well as my own.

You must not feel so unworthy of yourself. You are a woman and in my judgement, have not your equal. What others think is nothing which concerns us. As regards your education, you are young and can learn all you choose to. But it is not the education that wholly makes the man. It was your superior principles and goodness of heart that won me — qualities which but few possess to be compared with yours. Have you ever thought of when we was to be married? When will you be ready? And what do you think I had better do after I get out of the army? Go to farming? or find something to do in a city? I want your opinion concerning this matter.

Good night, my dear. Your own, — Edward


Camp 13th Regiment Iowa Infantry
Vicksburg, Mississippi
October 5th 1863

My Dear Ella,

While I was at town yesterday a boat came in with a mail and although I was on duty there, I did not wait to do another thing but immediately hurried to camp to receive my letter which I felt sure of getting, and I was not disappointed, for my orderly handed me a neat white envelope as soon as I reached my tent. I was alone and I pressed it to my lips with a prayer for Ella before I tore it open. I was very happy when I commenced to read it but before I was through I felt quite sorrowful for there was something in it that did not exactly suit my mind, although I am confident that you was only jesting when you wrote it. It at once sat down and wrote you a long letter; but after reading it over I thought it would be cruel to send it so I destroyed it and wrote another very short one thinking I would send it away this morning. But it has lain in my desk all day and now I have concluded to burn that also and write another which I hope may prove more acceptable than either of the other ones would had I sent them, for they were not such letters as I wish my Ella to receive from me.

I burned your letter last night before going to bed, thinking I would not write you again until after I should receive a reply from the one in answer to yours. But I feel more composed this evening and think I shall continue to send you letters just as frequently as I have done heretofore. I like to write to you for I think it makes you happy to hear from me, and I am anxious to do all and anything I can that will promote your happiness. I live for you alone and rest my whole future happiness on your love. I wish that I could lay my head on your shoulder for one minute tonight and look right up into those dark eyes for I know it would rest my troubled brain more than all else besides — I am very tired tonight, besides being quite blue in spirits. I cannot feel contented any longer in the army for I can think of nothing but you all of the time. I believe I want to see you now worse than I did before I went home. I know that you love me now and I hope you may continue to do so until death separates us. But I am afraid sometimes lest some pretty gent should find a corner in Ella’s heart. I cannot think you would ever deceive me for I believe were you to discover that a new born passion had been wakened in your heart for another, that you would tell me at once; but I will not imagine such a thing for it does not produce pleasant thoughts.

Lieut. Ridge has just placed a dish of nice strawberries before me on my desk and they look so tempting that I guess I shall lay my letter aside for a few minutes.

I resume my writing, but it is so late in the evening and I have become so cold that I think I shall be obliged to postpone finishing this until tomorrow.

I am glad that you are enjoying yourself so well this fall. Hope you may be successful in inducing your father to let you go to Mt. Vernon this winter. So Miss Sadie [Eberhart] was disappointed in not seeing me again, was she? Well, she ought to have come and seen me if she was anxious to do so, for I had no time to go over there after having established myself in the favor of Ella. And then my love would not have approved of my paying too particular attention to other young ladies — would she?

The weather is quite cool and the nights uncomfortable without a fire. I shall have to get a stove soon if we remain here.

We have a theatre in town now. I have been a number of times. Saw “Lucretia Borgia” played on Saturday evening. It is the most thrilling dramatic piece I ever witnessed. She was the woman who at one time ruled all Italy.

Does [your brother] Asa or Clara know aught of our betrothal? I have never said one word about it to any of my family. I have thought a number of times that I would speak to mother about it.

Have you and Asa yet learned, “When this Cruel War is Over” ? Cousin Billy is well and has improved greatly in looks since I came back.

When I mentioned about the ladies fashions in Chicago, I did not mean to offend you. I thought that perhaps you would be interested in them — neither did I expect that you was going to deck yourself out in all the latest styles. You know that you could never please better or make me love you more were you attired in the costliest satins and adorned in the richest jewels. I never wish to see my Ella any different from what she was when I left her a month ago.

Continue to love me with your whole heart and I will endeavor to be to you all that you can wish.

[unsigned — perhaps missing final page?]


At Home [Vicksburg, Mississippi]
Thursday eve., October 15th 1863

Dear Ella:

I am once more in my own tent and feel that I am truly at home.

The court adjourned yesterday to meet again in a few days. The President was obliged to go away and we could do nothing in his absence. I intend to go out to the regiment tomorrow. They are at Black River Bridge — twelve miles from the city. I go on the cars.

This is the photograph of U. S. Grant taken “in the fall” of 1863 after the fall of Vicksburg. Grant felt this image was his best likeness up to that time.

I was in a daguerrean gallery today and found a likeness of Gen. Grant which was taken last week, and as it was a very natural type of him, I bought it and send it for your album. It is as natural a picture of him as any of mine ever were of me so that you can form a pretty accurate idea of how the man looks. The Gen. himself says it is the best likeness he ever had taken.

Has Ella her hair that she has cut off? If so, I wonder if she won’t send Edward a little lock as he would like some little memento of hers.

Good night, love. Address as usual. Love to all.

Your devoted, — Edward


Primary Headquarters 4th Division, 17th Army Corps
Before Atlanta, Georgia
July 29th 1864

My Dear Ella:

The arrival of the mail this afternoon brought me a sweet little letter from you dated July 19th & mailed the 20th. It is in reply to eight of mine received by you about one week previous to the date of the letter referred to. I am glad that you have stopped that branch of service you were engaged in as stated in your last letter. I could not wholly approve of such a course, but did not like to say too much in my letter of acknowledgement as I had said before that I had got done complaining about you doing so much heavy labor. You tell me in this letter just received that you would not do more for fear of making yourself sick. Now I do not want you to think that you are nearly, if not quite, sick already, but do not wish to cause me pain by telling me so. Have I guessed right, or am I mistaken? You also say that you intend to loan the money sent to father as it will be safer and if you should keep it, you would spend part of it. Now Ella, that is a frank confession that you need the money but will not use it to provide things which probably you need immediately. I do not approve of such a thing. I want to have you buy what you want so long as you have anything to purchase with. Do not deprive yourself of a single article which is necessary for your comfort. Don’t you know that it makes me happy to feel that I am able to provide you with what you desire. The only thing I regret is that I cannot send thousands instead of hundreds.

“I received eight letters from you last Friday evening &c.”  I guess the postmaster imagines I have nothing else to do but write letters to you judging from the number you receive, but the way so many happened to be together was because I was at Chattanooga and feeling lonesome. I could do nothing but think of and write to you. There was not much in any of them if I remember rightly, and I know that the one I received today from you is fully worth the whole eight of mine.

I am glad [your brother] Asa will return home first for I want to meet you all at home so that when I come the family circle will be complete, for I consider that I am one of the family now, although my name is not Fawcett. Everyday the realization of our relation to each other seems more natural. I now feel that you are Ella Putnam instead of Fawcett, as has partially been the case since our marriage. I know that you are all my own and that when I get home you will show me that I am the one loved by you above all others. And little Charlie — the dearest object of our love — is a great comfort to you I infer from what you say. I bless him to know that he can cheer and enliven your sad spirit so much; and he certainly exhibits excellent judgement and sense far above his years when he says that Ella is pretty and that Edward would think so were he present to see you. Yes, Ella, although I said nothing in my letter in reply to yours of the 15th wherein you stated that you did not boast of your good looks — concerning my ideas of your beauty — I then thought as I always have since the first time I ever saw you — and that is — that you are handsome. Nor am I the only one who thinks so, but all who know you think the same. You have one of the most beautiful heads of hair I ever saw, nor is this all, but in every lineament of your features there is beauty. Dear Ella, you little imagine how beautiful you look to me. If there was nothing else to make me think so but that sweet, quiet, look of modesty and virtue, that would be sufficient to make me think you the most lovely of all women. Never before was husband so proud of a wife as Edward is of Ella and I do not like to see you working as you do, which in a few years will cause you to look old and sad if you still continue to pursue that course, which I have tried so hard to make you give up.

I do not want another of your photographs. I was only asking for the one you had partially promised friend Harry. It had not come when I last asked for one. He has got it now and is well pleased.

You don’t doubt, do you, but what you will see me at the end of three months? You speak of it in your letter and seem to think I may not come home then. I believe I shall see you then if I am alive, which I expect to be, although something may happen. I have thought sometimes since I have been back and when in battle, that my chances were not very flattering for a safe return, but I think differently now.

I showed Jerry your photograph when he was to see me. He thought it quite natural, but did not say much about it — and noticed a sad look on his countenance at the time. I think him somewhat disappointed although I think he believes it better than if you had married another, for he knows how much I love you and that the feeling is mutual, or you would never have married me. He will probably see you ‘ere this arrives. I hope he will not fail to visit Benton county. As for you not being so good as you use to be, that is all imagination on your part. Your virtues have not changed and I should be sorry if I thought they had. More than this, I do not alter my mind in reference to this matter — that you are the best woman in the world, I shall always believe, and no one, or no act or word of yours can cause me to think otherwise, I never was so good as some, but I try to be good, and hope I shall always conduct myself in a manner worthy of your approval. You shall never have cause to think that my love was abated from what it was when I married Ella.

I am, dear Ella, your affectionate husband, — Edward


Headquarters 4th Division, 17th Army Corps
Near Atlanta, Georgia
August 6th 1864

My own dear Ella:

Many thanks my dear for your short but welcome letter of the 30th ultimo, received this evening. But I feel sorry that you should think that I intended to complain — and think it was your fault because I did not receive more letters. I know dear Ella that you have been working very hard this summer — harder than I wish you had, for I fear that it has done you no good, but I hope that your father has so far finished his harvesting that he will not require your assistance any more this season. Ella, did I say that I thought it all your fault because I did not receive any letters from you? I certainly did not mean any such thing and regret that I should have given you cause to think so. And I know full well how much you have deprived yourself of comfort at times when you should have been resting, for the sake of pleasing me. Do you not think dear that I do not appreciate your many great kindnesses to me. They will never be forgotten.

Perhaps you think me unkind at times writing in the manner which I acknowledge to have done, but I have never had one unkind thought of you or imagined for one moment that you did not do all in your power to add to my happiness. But Ella, it is not in my nature or in the character of a man to be so pure, holy, & virtuous as you. I try to be good for your sake if for no other purpose. I am happier when I am good and try to make those around enjoy life for I like to see others happy as well to be happy myself.

I am sorry that people find anything bad to say about me for I don’t know that I have ever troubled any of them at home, or anyone in the army either. I have always tried to do my duty as a soldier and believe I have succeeded as well as the majority of young men in the army — at least my superior officers appear to have confidence in me or they would never have given me the responsible positions which I have held. I much rather have for my judges men of talent and education than men who know nothing except to raise a little corn or drive a two-horse team like some men who have undertaken to criticize my conduct as a gentleman. I think you have had as good an opportunity of judging me as anyone, and I am glad to know that you treat their slander with the contempt they deserve. Do you or anyone who knows you, imagine that any man who was very bad could be so base as to ask you to love them? — you, the purest and best of all? I did ask and received your love. What more could mortal wish? I wish for nothing more.

I hope you enjoyed your anticipated visit that you & Clara were going to have when you wrote for I think it will make the time seem shorter to you if you go around a little more than is your usual custom. While you are away from home, seeing new sights, surrounded by new associations, you will partly forget that your loved one is absent. How strange at times it seems to me when I think that I am your husband. I can hardly realize it. And when I for a moment think that I am going home to live with you, it seems stranger still. But it is no imagination. It is the reality of life — the stemtruth.

I accept your your declaration made at the close of your letter, that “I do love you Edward.” But I try to repay, my dear darling Ella, by loving her with all the power in my soul.

No more tonight love. I will write often. Yours with much love, — Edward


Office Asst. Commissary [   ]
Headquarters 4th Division, 17th Army Corps
Near Atlanta, Ga.
August 7th 1864

My Dear Wife:

Another of your uninteresting (?) letters was gladly received this afternoon. It was written previous to the last one received — this being mailed the 28th ult. — and reply to mine of the 12th & 13th July. You at last acknowledged that you are sick from too much hard labor. Oh! Ella, why cannot I be with you now. I have expected such news for a long time, for I knew that it was impossible for you to endure so much as they required of you. And you say that you feel that you will be worse before better. O, I can hardly write. What shall I do — my Ella sick and I a thousand and a half miles away. How Edward would nurse his darling if he was only with her. I would not sleep at all for it would be too great an indulgence for me while you was suffering. My eyes swell with tears and my heart chokes me when I think of poor, dear Ella. I know you are sicker that you would have me think, for you never complain. Do get well — you will, won’t you? I shall never go home again if Ella leaves me — then I could wish for no better home than in the army. I could not see the things once yours and find no Ella there. But you will get well — O, I know you will. Do not leave mer, for I do, do love you more than is in my poor power to express in my letter. I cannot say more than I have — if I should write more it would only be to tell you that I love you and will always be yours, and will not be separated long from you whatever may be the Will of Providence in your hour of sickness.

Do not think that Edward would reproach you in word or thought for working as you have — You did right. You are all the nobler for it. O, how proud I am that I have such a wife. My hand will not write more tonight. Clara or someone will write for you, I know, if you are too weak. Be careful. Do keep quiet. Edward will pray for you. Yes, I will be so good that I know you will get well.

Goodbye my dear. O, I cannot —

— Edward


Headquarters 4th Division, 17th Army Corps
Before Atlanta, Ga.
August 11th 1864

My Very Dear Wife,

A number of days have passed since I have heard a word from you and such suspense at this time is sorrowful — the last received bearing news of your sickness. I cannot imagine anything else that what you are worse or you would have written ‘ere this. O, what if my dear and beloved Ella is lying low with disease and they are holding the painful news from me! Why don’t someone write to me and let me know the worst — it would be preferable to this terrible suspense. I can think of nothing today nor dream of nothing by night, but my loved and loving wife. Think of your feelings at a time when you have heard of a hard fought battle where you knew I was and recall the anxiety you felt until a letter came bearing the glad tidings of Edward’s safety. Then imagine the state of my mind at this moment. I like you care not to live without the love and companionship of the greatest object of my heart’s love. None can fill the place of Ella, and it grieves my heart to think I am denied the comfort of being with you at this hour. I know that you have kind and dear friends around you — that you will be cared for in your affliction — but I am selfish enough to think that none can care for or tend you so tenderly as your husband. You have always assured me so positively that you would not get sick that I thought it impossible for you to have any trouble but sorrow for my absence.

As the time for my return to you draws nearer, so does my anxiety to see you grow greater. I often think Oh, if I could see my Ella for one short hour, how happy I would be. One sweet kiss would compensate for a month’s misery. But I endure the pain and am deprived the joyous hour.

I have no heart for writing any war news now. I only want to talk of our dear relation to each other & do not feel like saying much about even that tonight. I find great pleasure in writing to you, but I feel more like sitting quietly alone and thinking all about you. What I can do to please you most — how I conduct myself to make you respect me most. And often do I wish I could be some great and popular man, rich and influential, that I might better repay you for the uncomfortable and incomprehensible love you have for me. I feel that your great love is all my own — that for me your strongest passion of love is awakened. That none other can deprive me of your heart, nor with their slanderous stories turn the channel of your affection towards another, nor make it one of hatred towards me.

Now, I discover in my Ella the great principle of character which governs all noble and virtuous people and which I knew she possessed when I first learned to love her — that is, to not exhibit to the world a little petty jealous nature. One that always respects everyone and thing around them, thinks their friends love someone else better than they do them, and that everyone who happens to rise above them, by their own talents and industry, is a knave and a fool. The world is full of such people — they are those who can not speak a good word of those who have met with better success than them. But Ella’s great, loving heart stoops not to petty things. While loving her husband with all the love he deserves, she loves her parents none the less for loving me. I know this and this is why my life is so closely allied to yours.

Ella, I know the feelings of my heart in one particular is but the echo of yours — no one can ever excite in my heart a jelous feeling towards my wife. Go when and where you choose and my heart shall ever through life remain unchanged towards you. I am a man, not a boy — that feeling has passed away with the years that have passed since I have known you. Ella dear, give me one pure kiss tonight?

I cannot write more now but will not stop thinking of you when I am done writing, but go to my soldier’s bed and dream — I hope — happily of you. If not, it will be a dream of sorrow for my darling wife, lying perhaps in a sick couch pleading in her heart for the return of her Edward.

As ever, your devoted and affectionate, — Edward


Headquarters 4th Division, 17th Army Corps
Before Atlanta, Ga.
Saturday Eve, August 13th 1864

My Own Dear Ella:

My mind is at rest again for your letter of the 3rd inst. received this afternoon tells me that you are not suffering in body as badly as I have been imagining — although I know that you have been sick. O what a relief I feel since your letter came. I am happy to what I have been for the past week.

You say that you have not had a letter from me for a week, not having been to the office for that length of time. I don’t know how you can stay away that space of time, or without sending. Why, I am disappointed if I don’t get a letter every mail, at the same time I know it is impossible for you to write every day, but I wish you could have access to a post office that often, and then you would not have so many sad hours as you now do. The only means I now have of contributing to your happiness is by sending letters which I try to make messengers of comfort and happiness to you, and I dare to hope sometimes, that my letters are to you what I labor to make them — acceptable.

I am very glad to hear that you have retired from your late laborious occupation — and hope that you will never again feel that it is your duty to engage in such work again, for ‘ere another harvest, I trust the noble soldier boys will be at liberty to return to their homes and engage again in their accustomed civil pursuits.

Never, however, hesitate one moment to do what is your duty. Do not stop to think what I may say about it for as I have assured you before, you will always have my approbation in whatever you may do.

I hope you were not disappointed in getting a letter the day you wrote as you said you was going to the office that morning.

I think your conclusion is wrong concerning Jerry — that is, if he does not visit you, it will be because I am not at home. The true cause will be because he cannot bear to see Ella in her new position. Jerry has not forgot you yet, nor can anyone who ever prized your friendship as he did. I know better than you, my dear, the heart of man. But enough of this subject.

I judge from your letter that your confidence has been strengthened in regard to my returning home. It pleases me to see it, for I don’t want you to worry yourself unnecessarily concerning my chances of escaping the casualties of war, and not being permitted the privilege of seeing you again.

You say your troubles will end with my return. I do hope so, Ella, for I shall devote my whole energy to such a consummation. I never wish to see my darling wife enduring sorrow and pain — but the bright smiling girl I have always known before — no more crying, or wishing for Edward’s return. What pleasure even in the thought!

Did you ever find enclosed in one of my letters since my return a letter to me from my friend W. H. Inghan? I sent one once but you never mentioned anything about receiving it. I guess you do not receive all my letters as I have sent a number which you have never acknowledged and I presume they did not reach their destination. It seems my letters reach you much quicker than some of yours does me — although I have had letters from you in seven days after they were mailed. This one received tonight was mailed on the 4th and this the 13th — only nine days. Our mail is brought 23 miles by wagon. The list of casualties in the Eagle furnished by Keyes is not half complete and as regards the  fight, I think he knows but little about it as he was no where near the battleground.

I do not forget to look at Ella’s photograph & daguerreotype each day, or oftener. They look sweeter every time I see them but when I kiss them, it does not send that thrill of pleasure through my veins as it does to kiss the original. But I am thankful for even the great privilege I enjoy in kissing the shadow.

Lovingly yours, — Edward


Before Atlanta, Georgia
August 13th 1864

Dear Ella:

The little roll I send is the General’s official report of the fight on the 22nd ult.  Be careful about opening it as there is an envelope inside which I prize above anything I possess, excepting wife. It was taken from the private desk of General McPherson after his death with a few more and presented to his friends by Col. Clark. I also have a sheet of paper of the same value. I had the picture put on by an engraver who had nothing with him to do it with but a steel pen.

The report may prove dry reading to you, but I think much of it and presume Mrs. Putnam will preserve it, won’t she? It is not a correspondent’s description of a fight but a General’s Official report to his superior officer. Col. [Andrew J.] Alexander is the Adjt. Gen’l of the 17th Army Corps. Maj. Gen’l. [Francis Preston] Blair Commanding.

I had a horse shot on the 26th ult. I have two horses — one is a magnificent fellow. I wish I could have him at home for you to ride but that will be impossible.

All well as usual. Still feel sad because of your sickness and will I get a letter.

In haste. Your own, — Edward


Headquarters 4th Division, 17th Army Corps
Before Atlanta, Georgia
August 20th 1864

My Own Dear Ella:

I ought to feel very happy tonight for I received two letters from you this evening — dated the 9th and 12th inst., but one little remark in one of them has made me very sad — not because Ella sent it, for it only makes me love her the more as it proves that you have full confidence in me and are not afraid to write what you should and what is my duty to know. “Well, I guess if you were in my place, you would do just as I have to do. To tell you the truth, I have to work and cannot help it. You don’t know all or you would not ask me not to work.” I don’t know how to reply to this for fear I may say something that I would be sorry for afterwards, but something must be said before I can rest easy, nor shall I feel contented until I have an answer to this. Perhaps you remember that I once wrote you that I would prefer to have you pay your board and then you could feel at liberty to rest when you felt like it. It was not my intention when we were married to make a slave of you. I thought I could make you happier as my wife than you was as Ella Fawcett, or I certainly should not have asked you to leave your parents and join your lot with mine. I felt that I had ability to support you and did not think circumstances could arise during my absence which would compel you to labor as you have been accustomed to do during the majority of your life. In fact, I did not expect your parents would ask it of you.

I know they love you better than any other person in the world and desire to see everything done which is possible for the advancement of your happiness and the promotion of your future welfare. This I have been trying to do and shall continue to pursue the same course so long as I live. I know, or think I do, that all you have done this summer has not been done without someone asking for it. I know full well that you are the best one to decide what you ought to do, but you would not say anything if you were worked until down sick, because it is not in my darling Ella to offend any living soul. Oh! Ella, if I knew you had had been treated as I am induced to suspect you have, I could never forgive the one who persecuted you. Never once did I object to your doing outdoor labor because I thought it unladylike or anything of the kind, but simply because I did not believe you able to endure it. I know there could be no circumstances which would permit me to require anything of you which I could do myself and that is why I did not like others to ask it of you. But your doing as you did proved your heroism and showed the deep patriotism controlling your feelings. Noble Ella, I feel that I am not even worth to die for you; everyday I see more plainly the great moral principles which guide you in your course through life.

Now my dear little wife, tell me all about what you have mentioned, about my not knowing all. Open your heart and confide everything to Edward. Who should know it more than I? Am I not the one to console you in your affliction? to sympathize with you when you are in trouble? did I not vow before God to love and cherish you? to share your joys and woes? O, if I could only be where I could put my arms around dear Ella’s waist and with her head on my shoulder listen to her grievances, I could them dispel the sorrow which I fear at present darkens her brow. You shall have a home of your own, if I can word hard enough to build or buy a room ten feet square.

To show you how mother esteems and loves you, I will quote a sentence from her letter received with yours this evening. “I have seen a great many ladies in my younger days, and I never saw one with the natural grace and dignity of Ella. Fit yourself for anyplace, you can rest assured she will never disgrace any position.” Nancy says in her letter enclosed in mother’s, “Put Ella where you please and she is a lady — she is a dear good girl. I have a great desire that your married life should be happy — I think it is possible for it to be so, but we must be willing to bear with each others imperfections.” That sentence must apply wholly to you, for I am the only one who has the imperfections referred to — if Ella has any, Edward has never discovered them. No one need tell me that my Ella is a lady for I believe her not only that but higher still. If it were not sinning too much, I could worship you as the heathen does his idol. No language of mine can portray the extent of my love for my wife.

Your letter has partially changed my plans described to you in my letter of the 15th & 16th inst.  You know in that I told you I thought I would like to remain at home with you this winter and in the spring start for some new country, leaving you at home until I could secure money sufficient to enable us to live in ease and not be obliged to work day and night to prevent us from starving? But if my conclusions as now formed prove correct when I get home, where I can learn and see all, I think we had better try our fortunes together somewhere — although I can not think of taking you out of refined society where you can enjoy life better than where I spoke of going. I do not wish to remain where anyone may possibly think we are trying to live off from them.

[unsigned; missing last page?]


Before Atlanta, Ga.
August 21st 1864
Sunday night, 9 P.M.

Dear Ella:

Perhaps my letter would be more valuable to you if I did not write so often, but when night comes, I get lonesome and can find no enjoyment except in writing to my wife — even if I have not much to say. You are my only comfort and joy, and I like to talk to you as I am denied the pleasure of seeing and talking vis-a-vis. My long letter sent today is not the style I always intend to write, but I felt that I would like to talk to you just as I wrote. Consequently the letter was such.

This is a dark, rainy night and is inclined to produce a blue feeling, but I am not blue, but confess to feeling a little sad. I feel that my Ella is not as happy as I would wish her to be for I would have her perfectly joyous and full of hope. You must believe, my dear, that I am safe all the time and will return at the earliest possible moment. Just think how very happy we will be when I can again imprint a greeting kiss upon your lips. Our last meeting is not to be compared with the one to come for we were not so dear to each other then as now. Our lives are as one now — each cares not to live without the other. But I trust both will live many years a joy to each other’s heart. We will have a home which shall never know aught but the brightest sunshine. I know Ella will be my teacher, learning me how to be good, telling me my faults and how to correct them. All this selfishness of heart she shall drive away and make me a man worthy of being loved by her. I believed I could make you happy when I wedded you and still believe so. I know that you love me as I have never been loved before. Why then should I not be the proudest man in the world! I am.

I think after I get home where I will be under your influence all the time, and not have my mind wholly occupied by the one thought of returning to my Ella, that my energy will return and my old ambition spring into life again. As it is now, I do not care for promotion. I would not stay in the service a month after my time was out to secure it without it was with your consent. I presume were I to devote my attention to that one object, I could soon secure an elevation to a higher rank; but lately I have not given it one single thought for should I be favored with advancement in grade, I would be expected to remain in the service another three years, if I did not receive some injury totally unfitting me for duty.

I can not write a long letter tonight. A Sabbath night’s sweet kiss for you, sweet Ella. Good night.

Truly your own, — Edward


Headquarters 4th Division, 17th Army Corps
On Montgomery Railroad
16 miles south of Atlanta, Ga.
August 29th [1864]

My Dear Ella:

We are now cut loose from our rail communication and have no means of sending or hearing from home except as we have an opportunity of sending a letter on horseback. Today we are laying by waiting for the Army of the Cumberland to come up. The whole army has left their work around Atlanta and have started to go around and cut the Macon road east of that town. We have fifteen days rations with us. I don’t know as my letter will ever reach you but will send it with the hope it may.

I may not have an opportunity of writing again for a long time. If I do not, don’t feel alarmed because you do not receive letters from me.

I have been spending the morning in reading over some of your old letters. Have found pleasure in the perusal of some of them and sorrow in others. But all only joy to my heart for it makes green in memory the dry wastes of thought of the past happy hours lived in each others society. I live over again the short & happy time when as man and wife we were permitted to cheer each other with a loving kiss or fond embrace to satisfy the joyous aching heart.

Life was never so dear to me as now, for the day draws nearer and the hour seems sweeter when I can look into the thoughtful eyes of my darling Ella and see reflected in those mirrors of her heart the happiness which sweet contentment alone can bring. I feel that God in His great goodness will grant to me the fulfillment of my anticipated joys and make us as one, a bright shining example of virtue and happiness. I imagine how very happy it must make one to know that they are pointed to by parents as an example to their children — hoping that they may grow up in principle and in character worthy of imitation. Such is her who — unworthy as I am — I am permitted to love as my wife — and another who having fulfilled her mission of charity and goodness on earth, has gone before to prepare for us a home and be our guide through our future course of life. When I can feel that I am one half as good as you, dear Ella, then I shall know that I am loved by all around me — even those who now are jealous and bitter towards me.

I know that I have been towards you as you say you have just cause for thinking unkind, but Ella, I repeatedly told you before we were married that I was selfish. I acknowledge I am ashamed and will try to do better. I can write [no] more for the postmaster has come for my letter. Goodbye. Write often. Love to all. In great haste. Your affectionate & true, — Edward

I can’t mail this now. Excuse.

I have no opportunity of sending this away now and as I do not feel very brilliant this morning, will postpone finishing it until some other time.

Rough & Ready
Wednesday evening, September 7, [1864]
8 P.M.

We are near our journey’s end and I will send this in the morning as our postmaster will start for Atlanta to get our mail which has been accumulating since our absence.

The General commanding promises to the troops a month’s rest. What a delightful time I will have reading all of your letters which I shall receive. I know there must be a number waiting for me.

This army received this evening congratulatory orders from the President & Grant for the capture of Atlanta. I suppose the papers will publish all of interest concerning the taking of the place. I will soon be with my dear darling Ella. Devotedly and kindly, your affectionate, —  Edward

My warmest love to all the family. Remember me to [your brother] Asa.


Headquarters 4th Division, 17th Army Corps
Near East Point, Georgia
Thursday eve, September 8th 1864

My own dear Ella:

Once more in camp and two letters from you — August 15th & 17th — Oh! how they thrilled my heart with joy when I read them and found that Ella was no worse, for I knew that you was sick. Poor Ella. Edward prays that his dear wife may not be confined to her bed and he believes his personal care and attention will soon bring back the bloom of health to the cheeks of Ella again. I — like you — cannot be perfectly happy until I am with you and feel again the soul stirring joy of your sweetest kiss.

It is nineteen days ago since I received your last letter previous to these. That is a long time to wait, isn’t it dear? I blame no one. It was probably on account of the mails as they are quite irregular now. I wish every letter I send you could be in answer to one from you but I presume you do not have so many opportunities of writing as I do. And besides, when I write, I write very rapidly and do not take as much pains as I ought to, but if I write at all, and write often, I must do it in a hurry as my business requires considerable of my time.

Ella, I think your letters — the last two — are the best ones you have ever written me. I hardly know what makes me think so, but there is something about the tone of them that is singularly different from the most of your letters. I think, however, that you are still quite sad, and that some secret is troubling your mind. I know that you do not think Edward has grown less loving or that he does not strive as hard as ever to make you supremely happy — but I feel confident there is something not exactly right. I hope I shall know all when I get home.

I am very happy to know that you have so long entertained warm feelings for me. I did not dare to hope for too much before I vowed my love, for I had no reason to believe that you loved me more than another. I had some little doubts about you giving me your whole love when I asked for it, but I could not withhold my feelings longer. I felt that I must know my fate and I had fully made up my mind to never love another. I would have been true to you during my life even had you refused me, for mine was no boy’s love. It was the ripening love of years. I felt that you alone could make me happy, and was determined to not risk my life with any other. When I promised to marry you, I intended to fulfill my promise. I did so and when I vowed before God to love, honor, and cherish you, I intended to do so through life. How well I am fulfilling that holy vow, I leave you to determine. If I err towards you sometimes, it is through ignorance, not maliciously. I try to do what I believe to be the best for you. I care not for myself — only so far as it may in some degree promote your welfare.

Edward will not go to farming if he can avoid it, for he certainly does not desire to make a slave of his wife. She shall not work to please me. I want her to know what it is to rest for one season at least. I believe I have ability enough to support my wife in a manner suitable to her tastes. I do not boast that I can life as I would like to, but perhaps for time will favor me sometime if I only strive to win her graces.

Dear little wife, do you think Edward would want to go away and leave you behind? No, he only made mention of such a thing because he thought he could perhaps make more money in a short space of time where he proposed going than by staying at home, and he did not think you would want to go roaming over the world with him.

Ella, I don’t like to have you tell me that you are no better than other girls for you would not wish me to think so, I know; and besides, everyone knows that none pretend or believe that they are, or ever can be your equal in goodness & virtue. All you may say will not change my mind regarding my Ella. You are too good for me, I know that; but let us not raise a question concerning this point for there is no chance for argument.

Brave, noble girl, did you think I could love you less because you proved your patriotism in the manner you chose? not for an instant did I think you had done aught but proper, further than I was afraid it would make you sick, and so of course I did not like to have you work outdoors. The idea that it would affect your character is — I don’t know what. None know but to love and praise you. In mother’s letter received with yours, she says in mentioning you, “It seems pleasant to have her come — she is a dear child. No one could help loving her even if no connection, but when I think that your life’s happiness is so closely woven with hers, she seems doubly dear to me.”

Mother informs me of a report which was circulated about me immediately after I left home the last time. I had not heard of it before, was somewhat surprised. I am sorry that some people can see nothing in me but the lowest principles of man. I was not aware so much had been said derogatory to my character until mother gave me the information.

I had a letter tonight from Clara — of the 22nd — and also one from George Fawcett inquiring about William. Clara tells me that [your brother] Asa’s term of service expires on the 5th inst. so you will soon see him again, probably before this reaches you. I hope you will not feel as bad after he gets home again, for his company will make a great change in the house. I have never written Asa a letter since I have been away since our marriage and I have a pretty good reason, for I do not know the regiment he belongs to. I think it is the 44th or 47th, I can not positive which.

I am glad you have paid the tax but if you have loaned the last money I sent you, I am afraid you will not have enough to support you until I can send more. I expect some money in a few days. I need it for I owe considerable on my mess account. Our board has been costing us $1.18 a day this summer since I have been at division headquarters and we have not had a full settlement since I have been here. Goodbye.

As I ever hope to be, I am your true & affectionate, — Edward

Morning, September 9th [1864], 5 o’clock

I think you did perfectly right in treating Uncle George ¹ as you did. Although I do not desire to harbor any ill feelings against him or his family, still I will not submit to too much insult without making some resentment. I think he has done all he can do for the last three years to injure my character. If anyone desires to know what my character is as a gentleman in the army, I would refer them to the gentlemen I have associated with privately and officially for the past three years.

Don’t you think I had better let George have the farm another year? He wishes to know so he can do his fall plowing. If you think we had, you can tell him he can have it. It should be decided at once as he does not want to wait a month or two without knowing what he is to do. You can tell better than I can how well he will take care of the land. If he don’t cultivate it well, I don’t want him to have it. I think I can put up something for him to live in a little better than what he has got. I presume he would do better another year than this, as he will have more to start with. We move again today. Go to the north of Atlanta. We now are six miles south.

The tents are down. I must close. Kiss little Charley for me. Tell him Uncle Ed will come and see him before long and bring him some candy. Love to Mother, father & the children.

Faithfully, — Edward

¹ Ella’s uncle, George Fawcett (1813-1889), born in Belmont county, Ohio, came to Iowa in 1855. He was married to Mary A. Hains (1823-1884). George first settled in Linn county but a year later came to Benton county. He had two sons in the Civil War: John Albert Fawcett served in Co. C, 47th Iowa Infantry (100-day service) but died of disease at Keokuk 28 September 1864 on his way home. William H. Fawcett served in Co. G, 13th Iowa Infantry. He participated in the Battle of Shiloh, the siege of Corinth, the siege of Vicksburg, Iuka, Jackson and the siege of Atlanta. He was taken prisoner on 22 July 1864 and endured four months in Andersonville Prison.


[partial letter; missing dateline & first page but presumed to be about 10 September 1864 near Atlanta, Ga.]

…If the Rebels had waited one minute more, I should have been through their lines, but they did not doubt for a moment but what they would send a dozen bullets through me for I was but a short distance from them and right in the middle of the road. I do not desire to again pass through such an ordeal.

I am wrong in stating that it has been 23 days since I had a letter from you — it has only been sixteen. Your last letter was written on the 12th ultimo [August], and received the 20th [August].

Perhaps it will please you to know that I can not be drafted for two years after I am out of the service.  Only 53 days more before my time is out and then what will little Ella do? Although I want to see and be with you, yet I know I shall miss my friends who I have been intimately associated with for the last three years. I have become so accustomed to this mode of life that I don’t expect I will be fit for anything else but a soldier.

Ella, I have stopped smoking — haven’t smoked but a few times for a long time. I found that it was affecting my mind and that if I kept on, I would soon become cross, petulant, and dull headed, so I firmly resolved to give up the further use of tobacco — at least until I had fully recovered from the effects of its use.




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