Education

Letter from Archibald Penny to his Father and Mother July 15, 1863


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 Archibald Penny personally affected by the Civil War?
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Letter from Archibald Penny to his parents; July 15, 1863 , New York State Library, NYSL_SC11836_Archibald_Penny_letter_18630715
Document Description
Letter from Archibald to his mother expressing relief that his father his home.
Questions
  1. Who is Archibald concerned about in this letter?
Transcription
9 Regt NYSM
Friday, July 15, 1863

My Dear Father and Mother
I received your kind letter and was very glad to hear that father was home, I have been very worried about him for the last 6 months. that was the only thing that troubled me, we are now in line of Battle about 6 miles from Hagerstown and to the left of the turne pike the road runs from Frederick Middletown Boonsboro & if you have a military map you can see where we are. We have been hard at work Building Breast works, we have just finished our line, if you have the tribune of the [   ].6.7[   ] I wish you would send them to me. I have been in good health so far it is very warm and marching hard only 11 more months and I will be with you if God spares my life Please write often and you will oblige your son. Archie
PS I have not heard from James Crain since we left Gittesburg. He belongs to the [    ] and I think 8 Brigade.