You are here

Letter from Elijah Penny to his wife; May 13, 1863

Letter from Elijah Penny to his wife; May 13, 1863

Letter from Elijah Penny to his wife; May 13, 1863

New York State Library, NYSL_SC11836_Elijah_Penny_letter_18630513
Document Description
Letter from Civil War soldier Elijah Penny to his wife, 1863.
Regt. Hospital
            Fort Eathan Allen Va May 13/63
My Dear Wife
                        Your last letter ar
rived in due course of mail.
I should have answered it before
now only various circumstances
have prevented. I have been here
about a week. I find it a very
comfortable place. large, cool and
well ventilated. I expect to stay
here until discharged. I am quite
comfortable. Suffer no pain of any
account, have quite a good appetite,
am taking no medicine, yet I am
very poor and weak. I had to leave
my tent on account of the heat.
I send you a little money. And
if I do not come home soon will
send you more. Give my love to all
(have you heard from Archy) E Penny
What problems does Elijah discuss in this letter?
How does he hope the problems will be resolved?

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
What was the individual impact of the war on Elijah?