You are here

Letter from Archibald Penny to his Father May 19, 1861

Letter from Archibald Penny to his father; May 19, 1861

Letter from Archibald Penny to his father; May 19, 1861

New York State Library, NYSL_SC11836_Archibald_Penny_letter_18610519
Document Description
Letter from Archibald Penny to his father, Elijah, requesting permission to join the army.
398 Bowery May 19/61
            Since you
was in NY, there has
been some excitement.
The 9th Regiment have
been ordered to Washington
and they are calling for
volunteers from all parts.
I thought that I would
As[k] your opinion of my
joining the volunteers. There
is several gone from this
store, and they want that
I should go with the
2nd Regiment. They say
that they will keep my
[    ] for me. I feel
very anxious to go
but you must not
think I will go till
I get your and mother
consent. I may have
to go. I went to see
Mr. Anderson yesterday.
We have done [    ] business
this week. We shall shut
up tomorrow. (Saturday)
I wish that you would
write as soon as you
get this. I bought a cap
The Bowery # Ave & 4 Ave
was completely blockaded
today. The 2nd Reg. have
raised 300 men today.
            [    ] Your Son
A. Penny

Since I wrote the
with the 9th Reg.
have called an [    ]
and want that I should
go. Mr. Clark says
that he will sign me
out. My chum is going
and I want to go very
much. I wish that you
would give your consent
and you must
for I don’t want to
go without our consent
nor will I go till I
get it. If I do not
volunteer I think that
we will be drafted.
Write as soon as you
Your Son
Why is Archibald writing to his father?
How does he describe New York City during this time?
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
Explain why Archibald Penny volunteered to fight in the Civil War. Use evidence from the letter to support your answer.