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Letter from Archibald Penny to his Mother July 2 and 4, 1863

Letter from Archibald Penny to his mother; July 2-4, 1863

Letter from Archibald Penny to his mother; July 2-4, 1863

New York State Library, NYSL_SC11836_Archibald_Penny_letter_18630702
Document Description
Letter from Civil War soldier Archibald Penny to his mother, 1863.
On Field near Gitits Burg PA
                        July 2nd 1863
My Dear Mother
                        Yesterday we fought a
hard battle, Your son came
off Safe. Thank God. We were
drove about 1 ½  miles but was not
whipped. I seen James Crain to
day he was well, has not been engaged
yet, will write again when I can.
                        Your Son Archey
July 4
            We have fought for
2 days. God has spared me.
Our forces have been victorious
so far. Write me when you
can Your Caring Son
Where did Archibald write this letter?
Why did Archibald write this letter?
What is the overall tone of the letter?
Historical Challenges
Research the battle of Gettysburg. What may Archibald have seen in this battle?

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 these letters are so short and how this experience impacted Archibald.