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Letter from Archibald Penny to his Father and Mother July 26, 1861

Letter from Archibald Penny to his parents; July 26, 1861

Letter from Archibald Penny to his parents; July 26, 1861

New York State Library, NYSL_SC11836_Archibald_Penny_letter_18610726
Document Description
Letter from Archibald Penny to his parents complaining about the failures of the Union Army leadership.
Head Quarters 9 Reg. NYSM Harper's Ferry, July 26/1861
Dear Father and Mother
I received your kind letter and was very glad to hear from you and mom. I wrote to you when at Charlestown 20th from here the 22nd I suppose you have received them by this time. I also received a letter from Essie on the 24th which I answered yesterday. Her letter was not directed right or I should have got it before. She neglected to put on the comp. to which I belong. The quartermaster had possession of it he advertised and then I found it. She mearly addressed 9 Regimen, N.Y.S.M. She left out the comp. I also received a letter from Uncle Hiram which I have answered. The box which you sent me is at Washington. I expect to get it in a few days. The quartermaster has sent for it for me. He is very kind to me. He always gets my letters and fetches them to me. I suppose you have heard all the news as the papers are full all the time we have several reporters with us. I suppose you have heard of the failure of Gen. Patterson he failed to cut off Gen. Johnson retreat from Winchester this had been the object of Gen. Scott for some time and this was why we were sent to Virginia and why we have marched nearly 100 miles from place to place driving the enemy before us till we had them found at last but Gen. Patterson has been too slow and we have lost. We had the enemy at close quarters when near Charlestown but we were ordered to hold which we did and formed a Battle line it was then that Gen. Johnson was allowed to pass within cannon shot of us. I think that Gen. Patterson is a traitor to his country and men under his command. I hear that he has been supercede by Gen Banks of Mass. I hope that this [    ]. Major Wall has tendered his resignation and left us. I heard him say that Gen. Patterson was not a safe man for him to serve under. I was very sorry to see him leave. He was a good Major. He was Brigadier General under Gen Patterson. If Gen. Patterson had done as he should of done he would of saved many lives for Gen Johnson was allowed to retreat to Manasas Gap and this is why his retreat should have been cut off. I have know news to write. We are all well. I write this letter in a small wood 1/2 mile from camp. I use a 24 pound cannon for a seat which the enemy left when they evacuated this place. Our camp is very pleasant being situated on a hill overlooking the town of Harper's Ferry & Bolliver. Some think that we will remain hear for some time as our Regiment is know the only one in Brigade that is in for the war the rest are 3 months men and thayr time is nearly out so we will have to be reinforced before we can again march against the enemy. This plac is to made one of the [    ] war stations the government are rebuilding the Bridge, which will be finished in a few weeks. I was very much pleased to receive a letter from Essie. I received a letter from D. C. Crosby to day which I shall have to answer. Good by [     ] [     ] you
I remain your humble son A Penny Comp. F
I wrote Alf Penny yesterday.
Your Box is safe at Washington I expect to have it tomorrow. AP
What topics does Archibald discuss in this letter?
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
How does Archibald feel about the outcome of the war at this time?