1865: Sanford Tuttle Bliss to Kent Jarvis

I could not find an image of Sanford but here is one of Sergt. Finley M. Smock of the 5th Iowa Cavalry (Michael Huston Collection)

This letter was written by Sanford Tuttle Bliss (1839-1897) of Dubuque, Iowa. Sanford enlisted on 6 September as a private in Co. E, 5th Iowa Cavalry, and was promoted quickly to sergeant. He reenlisted as a veteran in January 1864 and mustered out with the regiment at Nashville on 11 August 1865.

Sanford was born in Hartwick, Otsego county, New York, the son of Jesse and Fanny (Tuttle) Bliss. Sanford’s older brother, Norman Ingles Bliss (1814-1882) became a mormon, lived at Navoo, Illinois, for a time and traveled with Brigham Young’s party to Utah in 1848.

Prior to the Civil War, Sanford had been a student at the Hartwick Theological and Classical Seminary.


Camp near Nashville [Tennessee]
January 4th 1865

Dear Nephew,

Your last very interesting epistle has remained some time unanswered for the simple reason that I haven’t had time to write. Old Hood wished to take his Christmas dinner in Nashville but Thomas very unreasonably objected and to settle the difficulty many valuable lives were lost and much property destroyed in Tennessee. Three weeks ago our army moved out and gave the Rebs battle. Whipped them bad & have had a running fight of it ever since, Old Hood is glad to get across the Tennessee [River], I guess as he has from the last account from the front, with part of his army having lost nearly all his artillery & wagon train and many of his men although he had the largest & best part of the reel army in the West.

We were on the right wing & fought their cavalry & artillery for a week when I had an attack of fever & ague & had to go to the hospital. The weather was perfectly awful—raining continually & cold some of the time. Our clothes and blankets would get wet through and then freeze on us.

I went to the hospital at Spring Hill, staid a short time till I got a little better, and then went to a Lady’s house as safe guard to keep the soldiers from ribbing and insulting her and her two lovely daughters. I saved considerable of their property and consequently walked into the affections of the whole family and had a most agreeable time for two weeks. On leaving, received a pressing invitation to make my home there if I ever got sick or wanted a furlough.

I am staying with the dismounted part of the regiment. As soon as we get horses, shall join the regiment near Pulaski.

You seem to be having pleasant times at the old sem[inary] this winter but you must not neglect your studies too much for pleasure, if there are ever so many pretty girls there.

How did you spend the holidays? Sleigh riding with the Miss Davidson any? She used to be a nice little girl. I would liked to have been in Old Otsego about that time to [have] got a good Christmas dinner of roast turkey, mince pies, &c. &c. I didn’t enjoy my furlough last winter much for I was sick all the time. But if I was there now, I think I could do a little better.

Dinner is ready and I must close. Write soon. You have plenty of time. Yours &c. — S. T. Bliss

Addressed to Kent Jarvis, Esq., Hartwick Sem., Otsego, New York

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