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Letter from Alfred Penny to his father; August 23, 1861

Letter from Alfred Penny to his father; August 23, 1861

Letter from Alfred Penny to his father; August 23, 1861

New York State Library, NYSL_SC11836_Alfred_Penny_letter_18610823
Document Description
Letter from Civil War soldier Alfred Penny to his father, 1861.
Head Quarters Co. E
2nd Regt. NYSM
Camp Brady Aug 23rd
Poolsville Md
E. Penny
We are again in active service and I think that US is putting things on to us rather thick. We have to Pickett at Edwards Ferry & at Poolsville and we have nearly a company detailed for the US Topographical Engineering Co., they are on the Potomac River and they send off alarm rockets and the signal is carried from Point to Point but what the meaning of them are we don't know but they do. When I wrote to you from Rockvill I sent it in a letter which Him was writing to Mr. Crane and I sent in the same letter a Picture of Jim & myself taken by Brady at camp Powell but Jim had a letter from David and he said that some one had taken the letter from his Black Smith shop and he could not find it. but if you have got it please give this picture to some of Grandfathers folks, they are taken very badly
We are getting only 3 nights in bed a week but I have not had that his week. We are having good food since we have been under Gen. Stone. We went to his head quarters with our food for Breakfast one morning and he pronounced [?] for the soldiers that had to do the duty that we had to do & so he ordered fresh beef & bread & Potatoes & Coffee 8 times a day our duty comes much harder on us as there is not more than (400) four hundred men in the regiment. The Col has gone to NYork and he says if he can't get men enough to fill the ranks to a proper number we will be sent to some fort the captain calls for the men to fall in for Pickett & I must go. Write as soon as you receive this Give my love to mother tell her that I would like to have that Uniform [?] good and those shirts & my love to all good by Your Son Alfred 2 Regt NYSM Washington
Historical Challenges
What was the job of the US Topographical Engineering Company during the Civil War?

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
What complaints does Alfred write about in this letter?
Who does he mention in the letter?
What is the overall tone of the letter?