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William Rankin Civil War letters

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MS-0711

Scope and Content

This collection of 30 letters details daily life as a member of the 46th Regiment, Iowa Infantry during the summer of 1864. The envelopes the letters were sent in were not retained by a previous owner, so the intended recipient is unknown. The letters describe what daily camp life was like, along with drills, news of fellow Iowa soldiers, and rumors from the front line.


  • 1864

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Consult Special Collections and University Archives.


William Rankin was an Iowa native from a farming family. In 1864, at the age of 20, he volunteered for the Union Army as a “100-days man”. He served his 100 days as a Corporal in Company F of the 46th Regiment, Iowa Infantry. His regiment was assigned to guard the Memphis & Charleston Railroad, located near Colliersville, TN.

The “100-days man” is a nickname given to volunteer troops who served for 100 day enlistment periods during the height of the Civil War. They were intended to serve non-combat support roles in order to free up the veteran units for combat, however Rankin did see some action during his service.


0.21 Linear Feet (1 half document box)


The collection consists of 30 letters written by William Rankin, a Civil War soldier during the summer of 1864. Rankin was a “100-days man” who served with the 46th Regiment, Iowa Infantry.


The collection is organized chronologically. Each folder has the location the letter was sent from along with the date it was written.

Physical Description

General condition: Good.

Acquisition Information

Provenance: This collection was purchased from the William Reese Company.

Accession No. 2017.0195. Acquired 2017-12-06

Items in related collections

MS-0246. Celestia Lee Barker papers, 1860-1987, undated MS-0591. Charles W. Chapman Civil War diary, 1862-1869, undated MS-0606. Cyrus Bussey Civil War reminiscences, circa 1864 MS-0671. Esther E. Allen G.A.R. muster certificate, 1880 MS-0637. George Samuel Neel's Civil War papers, 1860-1865 RS 13/16/11. James L. Geddes papers, 1878-2008 MS-0646. James Robertson Civil War diaries, circa 1860-1862 RS 13/16/13. James Rush Lincoln papers, 1863-1964 MS-0662. John L. Hostetter Civil War diary, 1864-1865 MS-0159. John W. Chambers Civil War diary, 1863 MS-0587. L. Stone Hall Civil War diary and transcript, 1864-1865 MS-0663. Robert and Mary Ann Sisson Civil War letters, 1861-1864, undated MS-0213. Van Zandt Family papers, 1838-1990, undated MS-0225. W. I. (William I.) Bragg 19th Iowa Volunteer Infantry reminiscence and photographs, circa 1870-1909, undated MS-0059. Gerard and Velma Rayness papers, 1861-1979, undated

Processing Information

Described by Rosalie Gartner.

MS 711. William Rankin Civil War letters, 1864
February 26, 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives Repository

403 Parks Library
701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University
Ames Iowa 50011-2102 United States
(515) 294-6672