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Letter from Alfred Penny to his father; April 24, 1861

Letter from Alfred Penny to his father; April 24, 1861

Letter from Alfred Penny to his father; April 24, 1861

New York State Library, NYSL_SC11836_Alfred_Penny_letter_18610424
Document Description
Letter from Civil War soldier Alfred Penny to his father, 1861.
New York April 24
Three Cheers for the
            I was at the
armory to day & they had
(164) one Hundred & sixty four
men enlisted in our company (E)
& the officers met & chose
the best & out of that number
they only took 53 men
and I have the “Honor” of
addressing myself as Mr
A.C. Penny Secritary of
company E of the 2nd Regiment
U.S.M. and all I will have
to do is to attend to the writing
of the company
I am allowed to carry a small
box the same as a colonels only
smaller & I march behind the
band & do not have to carry
any thing & when we are at
camp I have to stay in the camp
& nothing else, The captain
gave me the keys to the
sec’s drawers this afternoon
There is no danger of my
being shot as I do not have
to be on the field when fighting
with out we are attacked while
The Captain told me to day
that we should leave the city
on Sunday for some place
up the Hudson near where
[Bennetts] dwelling is if you know
whear that is you will know but
I forget and from there to
Washington, on Tuesday. Jim Crane is
in good spirits and says he
never will back down until
he has a good shot at one
of them Southerners, they have
been drilling him on double
quick time to day.
I stopped to see Arch to day
but he had gone out
I shall see him tomorrow
if I can, it is growing late
& I must Retire my love
to all & especially mother &
the boys. I got a letter star
ted a week a go & it lays
before me unfinished write
as soon as you can I may
get it before I leave NY
Good By
            Yours Truly
                        A C Penny
                        Secretary Comp E
                        2nd Reg USM
What event is Alfred describing to his father?
What job has Alfred been given?
What is the overall tone of the letter?

About this Activity


Lesson Topic:


Historical Context
When the American Civil War began in 1861, citizens of both the North and South had no idea how long the conflict would last. Many Northerners, including the Union army leaders, envisioned a three-month war that would quickly bring the South back into the Union. The assumption that it would be a short war, coupled with a surge in patriotism, led thousands of New Yorkers to voluntarily join the army. The men of the Penny family were no exception.

In 1860, the Penny family consisted of seven members: Elijah, Jane, Archibald, Alfred, Eugene, Charles, and Louise. They lived in the town of Southeast in Putnam County, New York. Elijah, the father, and the two older boys, Archibald and Alfred all volunteered to fight for the Union in 1861. The letters, census records, and military documents all provide a glimpse into one New York family's experience during this time of national unrest.

Essential Question
What impact did the Civil War have on individual citizens, families, and local communities?
Check for Understanding
Describe Alfred Penny's attitude toward the war and his enlistment.