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Letter from Elijah Penny to his wife; June 14, 1863

Letter from Elijah Penny to his wife; June 14, 1863

Letter from Elijah Penny to his wife; June 14, 1863

New York State Library, NYSL_SC11836_Elijah_Penny_letter_18630614
Document Description
Letter from Civil War soldier Elijah Penny to his wife, 1863.
Fort Ethan Allen Va 14th/June/63
My Dear Wife
                        I take this op
portunity to inform you that
that my health is about the
same as when I last wrote.
I begin to feel quite sanguine
that I shall reach home in time
to spend the fourth with you
and my relatives and friends.
If I did not think I would
get better I would stay here
for the present and draw my
$18.00 per month, but I have
great hopes that a change of clim
ate and some simple remedies
will restore me to comparative
good health.
It appears by your writing that
Old Devel has not reformed
any since I left. I think the
neighborhood will git to hot
for him if he does not let up
a little in his ugliness. it is
very unfortunate for the neigh
borhood that his place is not
occupied by some white enter
prising man. I have not a bit
of news to write. It is very quiet
here. very different from the
noise and bustle of the camp.
We hear no camp gossip. Have
no duty to do. consequently it seems
dull and time drags slowly arriving
in camp a new story is started
at least every day and its merits
and demerits has to be discussed.
            You must excuse
me for writing short letters
for I have not even as good
a chance as I had in camp.
It makes my back ache to sit without
anything lay against. Remember me
to all. Truly Your Husband. E. Penny
Where was this letter written?
Why is Elijah in this location?
Where does Elijah think he will go next?
What is Elijah's opinion of his neighbors?

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 was Elijah physically affected by the war?