1865: Peter Putman to William Codling

These two letters were written by Pvt. Peter Putman (1843-1923) of Fairbank, Buchanan county, Iowa, who enlisted in the 5th Iowa Infantry in July 1861 and served with them for three years before joining the 5th Iowa Cavalry, Co. E. in July 1864. By the time this letter was written in February 1864, Putman and others had been consolidated into Co. G.

Peter was the son of Jacob and Hannah (Lewis) Putman of Cato, Cayuga county, New York, and came to Iowa in 1858. After the war, Peter married (1866) Alice S. Teague—a native of Yorkshire, England.

William wrote the letter to his friend, English-emigrant, William Codling (1826-1894) with whom her served three years together in Co. E, 5th Iowa Infantry. William was discharged from the regiment in February 1864 and returned to Iowa to marry Frances (“Fanny”) Jane Weeks.

See: Private Peter Putman.


The first letter is curious because it is addressed to “Friend Miss” without giving a name—as if he sent the letter to his friend William Codling who would, in turn, select a young lady’s name to fill in the blank and give it to her. Clearly he is non-specific as to her identity. It looks as if he was hoping to find a female correspondent in Iowa.

Camp of Gravelly Springs, Alabama
February 24, 1865

Friend Miss

I am a going to take the boldness to write to you as I am far from home and on receiving a letter from Iowa and in the letter there was your name mentioned and as I am in the army and far from society—only the military—and we see enough of that everyday—and this is the only way that we can enjoy ourself is by the pen and this is a very poor way to get acquainted with one but at the present time is the only way and I should be happy to get acquainted with you in this way if you are satisfied with this letter and when you read my name at the close of this letter. My friends live in Fairbank. Maybe this way of writing won’t quite suit you. You can inquire of my friends and find out what kind of a young man I am and what my business was when I was in the State of Iowa. And if you are satisfied with this poorly written letter and wish to correspond with me till you are satisfied that I am not as I represent myself, you can stop writing and it will be alright on my part and I will close with this short note and will tell you where to direct your letters if you will answer this letter.

Very respectfully yours, — Peter Putman

P. S. Please direct if answered to G. Co., 5th Iowa Cavalry, 4th Division, 2nd Brigade, M, d. M.


Camp of Detachment of the 5th Iowa Cavalry
at Chickasaw Landing, Alabama
March 13, 1865

Dear friend William,

I received your letter dated 13th and was glad to hear that you was well and your better half also the same. I won’t give you but a short letter this time for last week I wrote you a long letter and give you all the particulars there was a going on at the present time. We expect to go on a march in a few days and when you hear from me again it may be a long time. But I will write to you every time that I can have a chance to write and will tell you all what is a going on in Dixie.

The regiment is at Gravelly Springs and we are awaiting for horses. I will write you a few lines and let you know that I have received your letters and want to let you know that I am not lazy and always sit right down and answer your letters. I never wait till the next day but always answer right away for I am glad to hear from you. I want you the next time to write all about my place and where it is and all about it and don’t forget and give me a full description of the whole country around there.

This is all this time and I want you to answer soon as you get this letter. This is from your friend, — Peter Putman

To William Codling

P. S. Give my love to all of my friends around there and tell them that I am well at the present time and keep the most for your wife and yourself and write soon and often. — Peter Putman, Chickasaw Landing

P. S. I received them stamps and was glad to get them for I did not have any at the time.

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