William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan
Finding aid for
William G. Putney Memoir (Typescript), ca. 1896
James S. Schoff Civil War CollectionFinding aid created by
Rob S. Cox, November 1997
William G. Putney memoir (typescript)
Putney, William G., 1842-1919
The typescript of William Putney's history of Battery I, 2nd Illinois Artillery Regiment, bound and stamped in gold with the title, was presented to the captain of the battery, Charles M. Barnett, as a Christmas gift in 1897. Putney was only the final editor and compiler of the history, which was based on the recollections, letters, and diaries of a number of men in the regiment, with snippets culled from sources as diverse as Sherman's memoirs, reminiscences from soldiers in other regiments, and popular histories.
The material is in English.
William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu
Access and Use
The collection is open to research.
Copyright status is unknown.
Putney's typescript was published by Southern Illinois University Press in 1965 as Behind the Guns: The History of Battery I, 2nd Regiment, Illinois Light Artillery.
William G. Putney Memoir (Typescript), James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan
Putney, William G., 1842-1919
Rank : Bugler
Regiment : 2nd Illinois Light Artillery Regiment. Battery I (1861-1865)
Service : 1861 December 31-1865 May 20
The batteries comprising the 2nd Illinois Light Artillery were raised and served more or less independently of one another, predominantly in the western theater. Battery I was among the most active, taking part in the federal invasion of Kentucky and Tennessee, the rear guard actions to secure Kentucky, and the series of campaigns from Chattanooga through the Carolinas Campaign. During their service, the battery took part in engagements at Island No. 10, Corinth, Perryville, Chickamauga, and Chattanooga, as well as numerous engagements during the Atlanta Campaign, Sherman's March to the Sea, and the March through the Carolinas.
The young bugler of Battery I, William G. Putney, was born in Southbridge, Mass., but was working as a farmer in Channahon, Ill., at the time of his enlistment on October 1, 1861. Putney remained at Camp Butler until mustered in to the federal service on December 31, and from that point, he served continuously with the regiment until an eye ailment and hernia forced him to enter hospital at Savannah on January 20, 1865. He received a discharge for disability on May 20, 1865. After the war, Putney returned to Illinois and practiced as a physician in Kendall, Grundy and La Salle counties, continuing his practice in Lincoln, Neb., after June, 1904. He and his wife, Cornelia Elizabeth Boomer, raised a family of two daughters, three sons, and one foster son.
Collection Scope and Content Note
The typescript of William Putney's history of Battery I, 2nd Illinois Artillery Regiment, bound and stamped in gold with the title, was presented to the captain of the battery, Charles M. Barnett, as a Christmas gift in 1897. Putney was only the final editor and compiler of the history, which was based on the recollections, letters, and diaries of a number of men in the regiment, with snippets culled from sources as diverse as Sherman's memoirs, reminiscences from soldiers in other regiments, and popular histories. The full, and rather complex history of authorship of the volume is discussed in his preface.
In many ways, Putney's narrative is characteristic of the genre of post-war reminiscences, in its selectivity and its tendency to gloss over or reimagine certain events. It is not, however, as thoroughly sanitized as many memoirs, and presents some of the unpleasantries of military service and the war with a surprising freshness. Inclined toward a literary style, Putney balances small, humorous anecdotes, mostly personal in nature, with larger-scale perspectives on the campaigns and conflicts in which the Battery was embroiled. The intrusion of narratives drawn from high ranking officers (such as Gen. Sherman) provides some insight into the average soldier's post-war opinions on what was significant about their experience, but it is the recollections of the minutiae of service, the practical jokes played by soldiers, their everyday coping, that makes Putney's memoir so valuable.
The History of Battery I includes a roster of the battery, with brief notes on the post-war activities of each member. The manuscript maps are probably copies of some printed works rather than recreations from memory. They depict 1) Route of Battery I from 1862 to 1865; 2) military and naval operations about Island No. 10; 3) the last day of the battle of Chickamauga and the route of Battery I; 4) Chattanooga Campaign; 5) the Atlanta Campaign.
- United States. Army. Illinois Light Artillery Regiment, 2nd. Battery I (1861-1865)
- United States-- History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Regimental histories--Illinois artillery-- 2nd-- Battery I.
- United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives.
- United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Artillery operations.
- United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Prisoners and prisons.
- United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--African Americans.
- Atlanta Campaign, 1864.
- Chattanooga, Battle of, Chattanooga, Tenn., 1863.
- Chickamauga, Battle of, Ga., 1863.
- Perryville, Battle of, Perryville, Ky., 1862.
- Prisoners of War--Confederate States of America.
- Sherman's March through the Carolinas.
- Sherman's March to the Sea.
Additional Descriptive Data
The papers of Charles M. Barnett, Captain of Battery I, are also included in the Schoff Collections.
Brown, Thaddeus C.S., Samuel J. Murphy and William G. Putney. Behind the guns; the history of Battery I, 2nd Regiment, Illinois Light Artillery, ed. Clyde C. Walton (Carbondale, Ill., 1965).
Atlanta Campaign, 1864.Atlanta Campaign, 1864--Maps.Atlanta, Battle of, 1864.Averasboro, Battle of, 1865.Bentonville (N.C.), Battle of, 1865.Buell, Don Carlos, 1818-1898.Charleston (S.C.) Military Prison.Chattanooga Campaign, 1863.Chattanooga, Battle of, 1863--Maps.Chickamauga (Ga.) Battlefield.Chickamauga Campaign, 1863.Chickamauga, Battle of, 1863.Chickamauga, Battle of, 1863--Maps.Civilians--Georgia--Civil War, 1861-1865.Civilians--Kentucky--Civil War, 1861-1865.Civilians--Tennessee--Civil War, 1861-1865.Columbia (S.C.) Military Prison.Corinth Campaign, 1862.Dead.Enemy--Relations.Escapes.Ezra Chapel (Ga.), Battle of, 1864.Foraging--Tennessee.Gambling.Grand Review (Washington, D.C.), 1865.Granger, Gordon, 1822-1876.Grant, Ulysses Simpson, 1822-1885.Guerrillas--Georgia.Hooker, Joseph, 1814-1879.Horses--Accidents.Insubordination.Irish-American soldiers.Island No. 10 (Ky.), Battle of, 1862.Island No. 10 (Ky.), Battle of, 1862--Maps.Jonesboro, Battle of, 1864.Kenesaw Mountain, Battle of, 1864.Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865--Assassination.Macon (Ga.) Military Prison.Maps.Marches--Georgia.McCook, Daniel, 1834-1864.Perryville (Ky.), Battle of, 1862.Prisoners of War--Confederate States of America.Refugees--South Carolina.Resaca, Battle of, 1864.Revenge.Rome (Ga.)--Description and travel.Savannah (Ga.) Military Prison.Savannah (Ga.)--Description and travel.Scorched-earth policy.Sharpshooters--Confederate States of America.Sherman's March through the Carolinas.Sherman's March to the Sea.Sherman, William T. (William Tecumseh), 1820-1891.Soldiers--Alcohol use.Soldiers--Death.Soldiers--Recreation.Target practice.Torpedoes.United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--African Americans.United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Artillery operations.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Peace.United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives.United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Poetry.United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Prisoners and prisons.United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Women.United States. Army--Leaves and furloughs.United States. Army--Reenlistment.Utoy Creek, Battle of, 1864.
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