G.A.R. Post: Oliver Morton Post #10 Snohomish, WA.
2nd COLORADO VOLUNTEER INFANTRY/CAVALRY
Organized: 12/14/61 TO 12/14/62 Central City and Denver, CO
Mustered Out: 9/23/65 Ft. Leavenworth, KS
The 2nd Colorado Infantry/Cavalry, a three-year regiment, had its beginnings late in 1861 when two infantry companies were mustered in at Ft. Garland, Central City, CO and were subsequently sent as unattached units to serve with Union Gen. Canby in his 1862 New Mexico campaign. Upon their return to Colorado these units became the first two companies of the new 2nd Colorado Infantry.
The 3rd Colorado Infantry, never fully manned, was mustered in at Camp Weld in Denver, CO between 9/62 and 1/63. During the spring of ’63 both the 2nd and 3rd were given marching orders for Missouri. Once there, elements of each saw hard service at Cabin Creek, Honey Springs, (where the flag of the 29th Texas was captured), Webber’s Falls in Cherokee Indian Territory, and at Dayton in Missouri itself.
In October, 1863 Special Order No. 278 consolidated the 2nd & 3rd Colorado infantry regiments- with additional recruits- into a mounted entity dubbed the 2nd Colorado Cavalry. As a cavalry unit, the 2nd was initially employed to guard the Kansas/Missouri border. In this role it was engaged in numerous skirmishes with guerilla and other “irregular” enemy forces.
Then, in the fall of 1864, when Confed. Gen. Price’s army invaded Missouri and threatened to overrun Kansas, the 2nd at once took to the field. From that point the regiment, or portions of it, were in every battle and skirmish in the campaign against Price. At Newtonia, the unit was “in the thick of the fight” and “materially contributed by its audacious bravery to the splendid (Union) victory.”
Detachments of the 2nd spent the remainder of the war at forts Riley, Zarah, Ellsworth, Larned, and other locations performing scouting/escort duties and holding numerous bands of “hostile Indians in subjection.”
Residence: Lauretta, CO Age: 24.1 yrs.
Enlisted/Enrolled: 9/15/62 Lauretta, CO Rank: Pvt.
Discharged: 2/13/64 St. Louis, MO
Highest Rank: Pvt.
George Alvan Putnam was born 8/1/38 in Essup Co., Massachusettes. No information is available on his birth family, formative or teenage years. However, by 1862 he was in the Territory of Colorado because it was there the 5’7” self-proclaimed “pioneer” joined the U.S. Army. One point of note is that while George A. entered the service as an infantryman and never changed regiments, he exited the military as a cavalryman. Also, there are notations that the Army recorded the spelling of his surname as not only Putnam, but also “Putman” and Putmon.” Finally, another interesting fact is that there was another George Putnam in the 2nd Colorado Infantry/Cavalry and records pertaining to the two soldiers appear to have become intermingled!
All that is known about Private George A. Putnam’s military career is that around 4/1/63, as an infantryman stationed at Ft. Lyon, CO, he suffered an injury to his left leg- reportedly the result of exposure- which caused the knee joint to become inflamed and swollen. In October of that year when the 2nd was transformed from an infantry to a cavalry regiment the knee had already resulted in Private Putnam’s hospitalization on at least one occasion. That period of treatment having proved unsuccessful, in January, 1864, George A. Putnam was granted a disability discharge. When and why George traveled from Massachusetts, where he was born, to Colorado, where he joined the Army, is not known.
However, after separation from the service he appears to have returned to his native state as on 10/20/64 in Anndover, MA he married Lucy Adeline Rea. The union would produce eight children, only two (*) of which would survive well into adulthood: Francis Brannon (7/17/65-4/8/72), Israel Jasper (1/8/67-3/15/89), Mary Rea (1/1/69-8/12/79), Georgia Sarah (8/26/70-10/20/72), George Hildreth* (11/11/73), Carolyn Harriet (4/11/75-9/18/75), James Garfield* (4/23/77), and Robert Lincoln (5/7/79-5/27/80). The children were born in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
According to Mr. Putnam’s 1920 obituary, his post war employment included a term in the New Hampshire legislature, eleven years as a clerk in the Portsmouth, NH naval yard, and a lengthy (1882-1892 inc.) stint as the town clerk of Andover, MA. By March, 1912 George was “temporarily separated” from his wife. She was living in New Jersey with son George while he was with son James, now a medical doctor in Everett, WA. Available records do not speak to whether the “separation” was the result of marital problems or medical needs. Lucy died July 12 that same year.
George A. Putnam died April 30th, 1920 at the rural Everett home of his son. He was aged 81 years, 8 months. His obituary noted that while he had reportedly been in “failing health for some time” he had been able to be “outdoors as late as last Monday.” Cause of death was listed as “chronic bronchitis.” At death the former Civil War soldier was receiving a $55 per month government disability pension. His son, Dr. Putnam, was to later petition the government for payment of $94 for George’s final days of care and burial arrangements. It is not known if the petition was granted.
Buried at Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery Snohomish
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