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Letter from Alfred Penny to his father; May 26, 1861

Letter from Alfred Penny to his father; May 26, 1861

Letter from Alfred Penny to his father; May 26, 1861

New York State Library, NYSL_SC11836_Alfred_Penny_letter_18610526
Document Description
Letter from Civil War soldier Alfred Penny to his father, 1861.
Camp Draper Near Washington DC
Head Quarters Company E 2nd Regt
May 26th, 1861
E Penny  I wrote to you last week and have not received any answer yet, we are now encamped about 2 miles from Washinton and we receive our meals three times a day We left Washington city last Friday, we are on a branch of the Potamac River and about 40 Rods from Maryland, the camp was in a great excitement last night and we were called to arms, it was caused by the U.S. Troops nearing our camp on the way to Guard a bridge about 1/2 mile before our camp, nearly all of the soldiers are well we live on Smoked Bacon and crackers with coffee twice a day, I was never healthier or felt better than I do now we have to turn out of bed at 4 1/2 OC and turn in at 10 OC. I wrote to archy the same day that I worte to you and have received as good an answer as you sent me if you do not answer this I shall not write again. Yours Alfred C. Penny Amp E 2nd Regt. NYSM Near Washington DC
How does Alfred describe camp life?

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
How does Alfred feel about his service and his family?