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Letter from Elijah Penny to his wife; July 27, 1862

Letter from Elijah Penny to his wife; July 27, 1862

Letter from Elijah Penny to his wife; July 27, 1862

New York State Library, NYSL_SC11836_Elijah_Penny_letter_18620727
 
Document Description
Letter from Civil War soldier Elijah Penny to his wife, 1862.
 
Transcription
Fort Woodbury July 27/62 My Dear Wife It is Sunday Evening and I feel that I must write you a few lines although I have no news to communicate; day after day passes away unvaried by any incident worth noticing, I feel very lonely and can hardly raise ambition enough to perform my daily duties. I was detailed yesterday as Officer of the Provost Guard consequently I got no sleep last night. It is a duty that I dislike very much on account of the new and heavy fog from the river. I can see no prospect of this war ever ending and if I am to be a soldier the next part of my life I want to get out of this Regt and join one that is likely to be something. They are trying to recruit men for this regt. but they desert faster than they enlist. I don't think they can get a man in any place where the Regt is known. If Br Hiram had time, he could do much towards getting me leave of absence by going to Albany with proper papers and seeing Gov. Morgan if written to he might not give so terrible a thing a second thought. I requested you sometime since to send me some papers Vis. a certificate from Leut. Col. Urban and a letter from Col. James B. Swain will you please send them to me. Has Louise forgotten how to write? I have had a line from her in a long time. I have not heard from Archie since I wrote you last. Tattoo is sounding and I must not set a bad example so my Dear Wife Good night. E Penny Tell Louise and Charles I send them a good night kiss and hope they will be good children Give my respects and good wishes to all [  ] friends. EP
 
Questions
What problems does Elijah face in this letter?
How does he want to solve his problems?
 

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 Elijah feel about his service based on the evidence in this letter?