Civil War – Putnam Field

Born on November 10, 1836 to Moses and Rhoda C. (Putnam) Field, Putnam Field was given his mother’s maiden name and raised in Leverett. Little is known of his life until he worked in a printing office in Winsted, Connecticut from 1854 to 1856. For two and a half years after that, Putnam worked in various cities and towns from Massachusetts all the way to South Carolina. Presumably, he worked in printing positions until the Civil War broke out in 1861. At that point, Putnam was living in Brooklyn, NY, but he quickly enlisted, and on April 17, 1861, he was a private in Company I, 10th regiment of the New York volunteers. Shortly after enlisting, he was appointed a sergeant.

Civil War Union Army uniform

Civil War Union Army uniform

By June, Putnam was on a steamer headed toward Fortress Monroe, VA, and he was in the reserve ranks at the Battle of Big Bethel, VA on June 10. His company garrisoned in Fortress Monroe until spring, and in the meantime, Putnam was appointed orderly sergeant (July 1, 1861). The next spring, he was one of the troops who helped capture Norfolk, VA on May 10, 1862. From there, Putnam was ordered to join the army of the Potomac before they reached Richmond, and he met them after the Battle of Friar Oaks that also took place on May 10. When he reached his new appointment, he joined Warren’s Brigade, General Syke’s division, 5th army corps.

In his new army corps, Putnam saw his first actual military engagement. This was at the Battle of Gaines Mill on June 27, and he left his first trial by fire with a slight wound. Due to this wound, he was present but not actively engaged at the Battle of Malvern Hill, which took place on July 1, only four days after Gaines Mill. From here, Putnam’s regiment moved to Harrison’s Landing for a few weeks. It was there, on July 8, that Putnam was commissioned Second Lieutenant of Company K.

Shells from bullets used in the Civil War

Shells from bullets used in the Civil War

After a brief healing period, Putnam and his company marched to Newport News, took a steamer to Aquia, VA, and then marched to Falmouth, to Manassas Junction. There, the men participated in the second Battle of Bull Run on August 30. Afterward, They marched through Washington DC to Maryland, to Antietam, “where, owing to the extreme care our then commander had for his soldiers, we were allowed to be passive observers of the magnificent battle which was fought there by others, Sept. 16 and 17, 1862.”

After that, Putnam’s regiment was transferred to the Second Army corps at Harper’s Ferry, Third Brigade, Third Division. The Second Army then marched to Falmouth and participated in the battle of Fredericksburg on December 13. During the winter, things quieted down. On February 8, 1863, Putnam was promoted to First Lieutenant. Then, in April, Putnam’s regiment’s enlistment expired, and most of his men were sent home. The men with time left in their enlistment were consolidated into four companies in a battalion under Major General F. Hopper. To finish off the transition, on April 23, Putnam was commissioned Captain of Company C.

A few days later, on May 2 and 3 of 1863, Putnam’s battalion detailed as a provost guard of the division that fought in the battle of Chancellorsville under Captain Dewey, provost marshall. From there, the battalion marched to Gettysburg and fought there July 2 and 3. On the next march, to the Rapidan River in Virginia, Putnam was made provost marshall. While there was no battle at Rapidan, there were a few skirmishes, and on the next march, back to Bull Run, Putnam engaged in the Battle at Barstow Station on October 14, 1863. Sparing little time, Putnam’s battalion returned to Rapidan, and Putnam was sent on Mine Run Expedition during Thanksgiving. For the winter, Putnam was settled in Stevensburg, VA.

In a change of pace from his previous military duties, Captain Putnam was ordered to New York on recruiting service from the end of winter until the beginning of August 1864. He was able to rejoin his regiment before they reached Pettersburg, and he was present during all of: a flank movement to Deep Bottom, a mine explosion (not injured), and the Battle of Reams Station on August 21 1864.

After his action-packed first month back with his regiment, Putnam became sick and was sent to a hospital in Annapolis, MD. After a few weeks recovery again, Putnam was ordered to a Draft Rendezvous, where he acted as provost marshal of the camp for just under a year until his enlistment ran out and he was ordered back to New York for mustering out of service. Captain Putnam received an honorable discharge in New York on July 19, 1865 after four years and three months of service.

Upon his release, Putnam opened a printing office at 561 Broadway, and the next year, he took F. B. Fisher as a partner. After training Fisher, Putnam moved the business to 19 Chatham St. A couple years later, on November 16, 1869, Putnam married Kate M., born July 7, 1845, daughter of William and Mary (Whitney) Burt of Scriba, Oswego County, New York. Kate had graduated high school and training school in Oswego, NY, and she was a teacher in various cities in New York. Together, they lived quietly for a time, giving birth two two children–Charles Clifton on July 20, 1870 and William Putnam on August 27, 1871. Unfortunately, their happiness was marred by the death of their first child, Charles, a few weeks after his birth on August 3, 1870. Putnam, on the other hand, would eventually follow in his father’s footsteps and serve the U.S. military in the Spanish-American War.

Desirous of moving back near the place of his birth, Putnam sold out to his partner in the spring of 1872 and moved to Greenfield, MA. in March, 1872, he opened a new printing office, and in 1873 he partnered with E. A. Hall, calling the firm “Field and Hall”. On October 17 of that year, Putnam and Kate had their third child, Kate Louisa, and she lived until July 25, 1874. In another tragic turn of fate, Kate herself died on October 14, 1876, while her only surviving child was a mere five years old.

After a few years of mourning, Putnam, on July 1, 1880, married Anna M., born February 10, 1847, daughter of Henry and Susan M. (Field) McGaffey of Stanstead, Quebec, Canada. Thus, Putnam married a distant descendant of his own family. They remained in Massachusetts for a few years, having their first child together on September 27, 1881. Overall, the new couple had four children, and two died within a year. In an adventurous streak, Putnam and Anna moved to San Diego in 1887. Putnam lived there the rest of his life, which expired on March 3, 1915.

Heroes of the Civil War beside General George Washington, as painted by Erastus Salisbury Field


“Field, Putnam.” August 2009.

Leverett Family Museum Archives

Pierce, Frederick Clifton. Field Genealogy. Chicago, IL: Hammond Press, 1901.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s