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Letter from Alfred Penny to his father; June 11, 1861

Letter from Alfred Penny to his father; June 11, 1861

Letter from Alfred Penny to his father; June 11, 1861

New York State Library, NYSL_SC11836_Alfred_Penny_letter_18610611
Document Description
Letter from Civil War soldier Alfred Penny to his father, 1861.
Vol 2nd Camp Draper
Chapter XXLIV June 11th
On Monday last after visiting the ninth regt. and finding they had left the District I rambled about the city seeing the Elephant and the first one was the post office which is not much only that it is a very large marble building---------------- from there I visited the Patent Office accompanied by James Crane, the building is 6 story high marble fronts and it occupies a Block or square the first floor is used as office rooms 2nd is used as patent examiner 3rd 4th 5th are all used as show rooms it looks more like a museum on the inside than anything else in the middle of the building is a square with 2 fountains of water raising about 25 feet above the ground and a walk around it made of granite, among the curiosities is the Coat waist coat adn pants and some articles of private property which once were the property of Gen Geo Washington when he resigned his commission in the Army There is the articles of saddlery and cuttlery which were Presented by the Japanese Embassy to President James Buchanan, all of the Patent articles are kept in small and large show cases, the rooms are very large clean and cool the capitol is the place to spend a few hours although it is very dirty at present. There is about 5000 barrels of flour in the Capitol at Present time there is no soldiers quartered there at present. Washington would be as still as [         ] Sta if it were not for the Regiments you will see No body only soldiers, it is the opinion of the people here that we will get home in less than six months if there is no foreign power interferences. We have got 3 pairs of pants 2 coats 2 caps 1 pair shoes 2 shirts 2 ps socks We have very good rations and a plenty of them,the dandy 7th is a very well drilled regiment but they have not got the muscle to fight in warm weather all of the men that left our Regiment when they were about to be sworn into U.S. service were the toughest of the Regt and those that came to have a good time. When you write again I wish you would tell me something about your future prospects. There is one hundred applicants for every office under the U.S. government. Give my love to all and write soon and tell me more of what is going on than you did before. I think that I will have to be going into the city to day and I will take this to the Post Office with me.  Good bye Yours A.C. Penny Company E 2nd Regt. Wahsington D.C. P.S. Tell mother she must write to me and not let you do it all.
How does Alfred describe the capital of the United States?
How does Alfred describe his supplies?
What is Alfred concerned about?
Why would Alfred mention the employment prospects under the federal government to his father?
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
What impact did military service have on Alfred as an individual?