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Letter from Alfred Penny to his parents; August 30, 1861

Letter from Alfred Penny to his parents; August 30, 1861

Letter from Alfred Penny to his parents; August 30, 1861

New York State Library, NYSL_SC11836_Alfred_Penny_letter_18610830
Document Description
Letter from Civil War soldier Alfred Penny to his parents, 1861.
Head Quarters Co E 2nd REgt NYSM Camp Brady Poolsville Aug 30th 61
Father and Mother Dear Parents I received your letter by the last mail from Washington. It did not please me much for you said that you had not got only 2 letters from me since the Battle at Bull Run and I have written 3 or 4 times since we left Washington, Archeys Regiment passed our camp on the 28 and I saw him but he could not fall out of the ranks and so I went & got a pass & followed the regiment & they halted for the night about 2 miles from Poolsville. I saw him & he asked his captain for a pass to come up to my camp with me but he would not give him any & so he changed caps with me and he put on my overcoat and his pants are the same as mine & so he was transmagnified into a 2nd Regt boy & we passed the guard very easy and he came up to my camp and stayed all night, he looks as well & hardy as he ever did, He joined his regiment again the next morning, They are going some where into Virginia  if the 9th regt goes into Virginia I hope they will have a better time than the 2nd regt ever did for it is a hard looking country and it has not been yet cultivated or planted this year. I made a mistake it has been very thickly planted with musket Balls instead of corn & potatoes. This is the best place we have been in yet for it is very heavily planted. Yesterday we had fresh beef New Potatoes & Boiled corn for dinner and charcoal coffee for supper. Gen Stone is the best commander that we ever had and he thinks more of the 2nd Regt than any other in the Brigade, Our Colonel was not wounded at the Battle of Bull Run, he was nearly struck in the side with a piece of shell and it brushed his side a little if you read the papers you will see some good things in them about the 2nd. Here is a small piece that I sent out of small paper. Things look like a fight some where but where & how soon one can't tell, There was a Sunday School gathering here last week. There was about 10 of us boys that went to it and we had just as good a time as if it had been near home, for weeks now a good many of the old farmers that come to our camp to sell pies & cakes & one of the young ladies presented me with a ? and I brought them home I was going to prep them & send some of them home but some one took them out of my tent and that was the last of them. I wish you would send me 2 or 3 stamps as we can't get them in these country places and I think that the ones that are from here don't go good my love to all the boys & you Write Soon Oblige Yours alf Co E 2nd Regt NYSM Col GWB Tompkins Washington DC PS Jim Crane says that he Paid $1.25 on that box at the adm exposes Washington DC
Who does Alfred get to see according to this letter?
How does Alfred describe camp life?
What events remind Alfred of home?
What is the overall tone of this 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
How does Alfred feel about his military experience based on the evidence in this letter?