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Letter from Elijah Penny to his wife; July 20, 1862

Letter from Elijah Penny to his wife; July 20, 1862

Letter from Elijah Penny to his wife; July 20, 1862

New York State Library, NYSL_SC11836_Elijah_Penny_letter_18620720
Document Description
Letter from Civil War soldier Elijah Penny to his wife, 1862.
Fort Woodbury July 20/62
My Dear Wife
                        I received your
long and interesting letter of July
13th in due time. I thank you very
much for it. I know it cost you
a great effort, thus calmly to des
cribe the death and burial of
our child. I received a letter from
Archie on Tuesday dated July 12
Warrenton Va. He was well and
hoped that I might get a furlough
to go home. Jane I am quite sick
to day. I was taken with a severe att
ack of Cholera Morbus this morning you
must excuse me for not writing to day.
I will try and write to some of you the
middle of this week. Give my love to all
                                                E. Penny
What details does Elijah give to Jane in this letter?
Why is the letter so short?
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
Why does Elijah write this letter to Jane?