Tuttle (Dennis) Papers, 1862-1863, 2 Items

Administrative Information

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Copyright: The copyright of these letters is held by Navarro College Archives, Navarro College, 3200 W. 7th Ave., Corsicana, Texas. Internet: archives@navarrocollege.edu.

Cite As:Dennis Tuttle Papers, 1862-1863, Pearce Civil War Collection, Navarro College, Corsicana, Texas

Forms Part of: Pearce Civil War Collection

Location: 1-E17-a

Transcription(s): Yes

Scanned Copies on File: No

Accession Number: 1999.141; 2000.141

Processed by: Julie Holcomb, October 2001

Reproductions of original materials and transcriptions may be available. Please contact the archivist for further information.

Abstract: Dennis Tuttle mustered into the 20th Indiana Volunteers on January 20, 1862. Tuttle served as Private, Quartermaster Sergeant, First Lieutenant, and Regimental Quartermaster. As quartermaster Tuttle was not a combat soldier, but his duties often took him to the front lines after battles were completed. Two letters written by Tuttle to his wife give eyewitness accounts of the battle between the C.S.S. Virginia (also known as the Merrimac or Merrimack) and the U.S.S. Monitor and the battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Biographical/Historical Sketch

Dennis Tuttle was born March 19, 1826 in Hamden, Connecticut. The son of Leverett and Electa (Kimberly) Tuttle, he received his early education in the Cheshire Academy (Connecticut). Tuttle graduated from Yale Law School in 1850. After graduation he practiced law in New Haven, Connecticut for four or five years, before moving first to Indiana and then to Wisconsin. In Wisconsin Tuttle held the office of State’s Attorney of St. Croix County. He married Anna Ulissa Hotchkiss on February 14, 1855 (place unknown). The Tuttles had two sons, one of whom died in infancy. The other son John Birney Tuttle graduated from Yale Law School in 1891.

Tuttle mustered into the 20th Indiana Volunteers Infantry on January 20, 1862. He was mustered into the regiment from Hudson, Wisconsin by the regimental surgeon Dr. Orpheus Evarts (or Everts). He joined Company E as a recruit and a Private to serve for three years. On the April 30, 1862 to June 30, 1862 muster roll, Private Tuttle is noted to be “on extra duty as reg QM clk since last muster.” He was promoted to Quartermaster Sergeant from Private sometime in July 1862. He thereafter was promoted to First Lieutenant and regimental Quartermaster on August 20, 1863, and served at that rank until the regiment was mustered out at the end of the war. As quartermaster Tuttle was not a combat soldier, but his duties often took him to the front lines after battles were completed.

After the Civil War, Tuttle passed most of his remaining years in Madison, Connecticut where he grew cranberries. In Madison Tuttle served as town clerk in 1871 and was chairman of the Board Education for many years. He died at the New Haven Hospital at the age of 81.

Scope and Content Note

Two letters (1862-1863) document Dennis Tuttle’s Civil War military career. The first letter (March 16, 1862; 4 pages) addressed to Tuttle’s wife provides a vivid first-hand account of the battle between the C.S.S. Virginia (more commonly known as the Merrimac or Merrimack) and the U.S.S. Monitor—the first battle between ironclad ships. According to Tuttle’s letter the 20th Indiana, which had been deployed on the Virginia shore, expected an overwhelming attack: “our real danger to which we were exposed was fearful. Saturday evening they were masters of our harbor and we knew of nothing that could be brought to successfully resist them. They also had a heavy land force in our seas which we did not then know. This force was waiting impatiently for the next morning when they expected the Rebel Fleet would Shell us out of our position when we would fall an easy prey to them but God sent us the little ‘Monitor’ and most gloriously did she thwart their grand program.” The letter further notes: “The conflict raged between the Monster Merrimac & the little Monitor. When they came in contact close alongside A Rebel officer stuck his head out the port hole and said Where did you come from – Hell? You can judge of their surprise & chagrin when Their splendid program was crushed by this little insignificant looking tub and that too when they thought everything was in their hands.”

The second letter (July 5, 1863; 4 pages) also addressed to Tuttle’s wife documents the battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The letter opens: “I have just this moment come in from the front. . . . I went over the Battle-field or a portion of it last night. I thought I had seen some terrible sights on the Battlefield before but I never saw anything to compare with this. The Battle of Gettysburg was the most bloody of the war. We were victorious but it cost us much choice blood.” The letter closes with a chilling vision of the battlefield: “I think I could have walked from ¼ to ½ mile on dead Rebels without once even stepping on the ground. Horses & men, living & dead were mingled together on the field. Oh! but it was horrid and it made my heart sick to see it. I cannot tell you about it.”

The copyright of these materials is managed by the Navarro College Archives on behalf of the Navarro College Foundation, 3100 W. Collin St., Corsicana, Texas 75110. Phone: 903-875-7438. Internet: archives@navarrocollege.edu.