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Letter from Elijah Penny to his wife; July 6, 1862

Letter from Elijah Penny to his wife; July 6, 1862

Letter from Elijah Penny to his wife; July 6, 1862

New York State Library, NYSL_SC11836_Elijah_Penny_letter_18620706
Document Description
Letter from Civil War soldier Elijah Penny to his wife, 1862.
Fort Woodbury July 6/62
My Dear Wife
                        I received your letter
of the 3rd on the 4th just 24 hours
after it was mailed at Towners.
I have felt very anxious about Al
fred since I received it. I fear he is much
sicker than I had supposed him to be
judging from your previous letters.
if he continues dangerous you must
write me a line every day if he gets
well he will owe his life to the kind
Providence which permitted him to
escape the confinement and treatment
of a military hospital and get where
all is being done for him that human
hands can do. The reports from Richmond
brought in by the sick and wounded
(who are constantly arriving) are truly
horrible it is impossible for the mind
to imagine any thing so terrible
but what its reality can be found
in the swamps and on the hills
around Richmond but in defiance
of all dangers and disadvantages and
despite the superhuman efforts of
desperate madmen the nobel army
of the Potomac is gallantly sustain
ing itself and [    ] [    ] which
will never fade as long as freedom
is loved and cherished by the hun
[    ]. We celebrated
the 4th here in military style
the officers of the Regt raised $200
for firework & refreshments and
permitted the non commissioned off
icers to have command of the camp
and the men for a battalion
and dress parade. we elected our staff
and line officers and went through the
drill in good shape the men begaving
well considering it was 4th of July and
Laqubur plenty. I was in the field
a Leut. Col. when an aid of camp
rode up and delivered me your letter
I could not enjoy the sport after receiving
it. I fear you did not write me the worst
I received my shirts the day I wrote
to Louise but not until I had closed my
letter. They are very nice and suit me
exactly. I thank you very much for send
ing them on so promptly they are a
great luxury this awful hot weather
we should roast here if it was not
for this fine grove of trees it is a bad
place to write on account of the wind
I send Louise the Photograph that
I promised here but I am taken so
badly (on account of sitting in the sun)
that it will not be very interesting
to her for I think she had rather see
her Pa than all the rest of the army
Jane I have no news to write. I am
well and hope this will find you so
and Alfred better than when you
                                    Yours Devotedly E Penny
What events does Elijah discuss in this letter?
How does he describe the war in Richmond?
What are Elijah's biggest concerns?

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
How did the Civil War impact individuals, families, and local communities?
Check for Understanding
How is the war affecting Elijah and his family in this letter?