Penny Family
Papers, 1861-1872; bulk, 1861-1864

SC11836

Quantity: 1 box (0.25 cubic ft.; 228 items)
Access: Open to research
Acquisition: Gift, Edson Stanley Sloat, April 1947
Processed By: Manuscripts & Special Collections, ca. 1947; revised December 2010

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Scope and Content Note:

The Penny family papers consist of 208 letters related chiefly to the experiences and activities of three family members who served in the armed forces during the Civil War: Elijah Penny (born ca. 1818) and his sons, Archibald (born ca. 1841) and Alfred (born ca. 1844). Elijah was married to Jane Anne Barton, who was the primary recipient of the letters. The Penny family resided in Towners Station (now Towners), Putnam County, New York.

Elijah Penny was a corporal in the 4th New York Heavy Artillery Regiment. As an older man he was given more responsibility than that normally given to a corporal. Oftentimes his duties took him into the hospital corps, thus giving rise to his being called “doctor.” His letters, written mostly to his wife, discuss life in camp, his concern for his family, and his health. There are, however, a few references to political and military events. He refers to Governor Horatio Seymour and “his sachems” stirring up an insurrection in the north (probably referring to the draft riots of 1863). His letters are often full of despair and he writes that perhaps the leaders intend to extend the war indefinitely. He also writes that he feels bounty money is unpatriotic.

One letter describes the defenses of Washington against the Merrimac when that boat was expected to sail up the Potomac in March 1862. Significantly, this letter was written the day before the Merrimac met the Monitor on March 17, 1862. Elijah expresses general disgust and distaste for the northern army and its blunders. He thinks very little of the 4th Artillery, New York Volunteers.

Elijah’s two sons were in the army and much is said about them to his wife. When Alfred is home sick and finally succumbs, his letters are tender and sympathetic. Elijah’s own health deteriorated to the point that he would be discharged from service in June 1864.

Alfred Penny appears to have been living with relatives in Brooklyn at the time the war broke out. He was a member and secretary of Company E, 2d Regiment, New York State Militia (later the 82nd New York State Infantry Regiment) when it entered in to service in May 1861. His regiment was stationed primarily in the vicinity of Washington, D.C., the time most of his letters were written. His company was encamped at primarily at Powell, Draper, and Poolsville. While at Poolsville the death rate from climate and disease was high, but after the building of huts and the installation of fires and bunks, it went down. In January 1862, when the unit was encamped across a river from the 21st Mississippi Rifles, Alfred Penny says that the Yankees and the Rebels could have shot at each other but, instead, they were on the most amicable of terms. Very near this rebel encampment, at Ball's Bluff, was a regiment of Seminole Indians. Alfred's letters, generally signed A.C., are mostly about camp life, travels, and places seen. Alfred was reported to have been captured and was later paroled.  He died of typhoid fever at a hospital in Annapolis, Maryland, December 13, 1864.

Archibald “Archie” Penny was working in New York City in May 1861 when the 9th Regiment, New York State Militia (later the 83rd New York State Infantry Regiment) was seeking recruits, and wrote to his father seeking parental consent to enlist. Having received it, he enlisted in Company F of the regiment, which was sent to Washington, D.C., in late May 1861. Thereafter the regiment was encamped in various places in Maryland and Virginia. At Harper's Ferry, he found that the rebel forces were carrying on a scorched-earth policy, having burned the city and most of the countryside.  The 83rd Regiment was later involved in battles and campaigns of Fair Oaks, Seven Days, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, and the Wilderness. It was during the Battle of the Wilderness that Archie was killed in action on May 6, 1864.

Archibald's letters tended to be factual, with details about his regiment, its position and duties. He often mentions the type and quantity of food. He also comments on the perceived strength of the Army of the Potomac. Frequently discussed are camp life and the number of miles marched each day (“marching day”). He records the number of pounds a soldier has to carry as 48 and enumerates the specific articles. Archibald did not much detail battles, as he says that all the news can be read in the New York Tribune.

Folder and Document List:


Box Folder Description
1 0 Guide to collection / Historical Information
1 1 Letters of Elijah Penny, October 1861; February-March 1862
  1. To wife [Jane Penny], New York, October 7, 1861
  2. To [wife], Fort Snyder, [Washington, D.C.], February 23, 1862
  3. To wife, [n.p], March 2, 1862
  4. Elijah Penny to Charlie [son], Fort Snyder, March 5, 1862
  5. To wife, Fort Snyder, March 9, 1862
  6. To wife, March 16, 1862
  7. To wife, Fort Snyder, March 23, 1862
  8. To wife, Fort Snyder, March 31, 1862
1 2 Letters of Elijah Penny, April-June 1862
  1. To wife, Fort Snyder, April 6, 1862
  2. To wife, Fort Woodbury, Arlington Heights, Va., April 27, 1862
  3. To wife, Fort Woodbury, April 28, 1862
  4. To wife, Fort Woodbury, Arlington Heights, Va., May 11, 1862
  5. To wife, Fort Woodbury, May 25, 1862
  6. To wife, Fort Woodbury, June 1, 1862
  7. To wife, Fort Woodbury, Arlington Heights, Va., June 8, 1862
  8. To wife, Fort Woodbury, Arlington Heights, Va., June 15, 1862
  9. To wife, Fort Woodbury, Arlington Heights, Va., June 22, 1862
  10. To wife, Fort Woodbury, June 29, 1862
1 3 Letters of Elijah Penny, July-September 1862
  1. To wife, Fort Woodbury, July 6, 1862
  2. To wife, Fort Woodbury, July 18, 1862
  3. To wife, Fort Woodbury, July 20, 1862
  4. To wife, Fort Woodbury, July 27, 1862
  5. To wife, Fort Woodbury, July 28, 1862
  6. To wife, Fort Woodbury, August 10, 1862
  7. To wife, Fort Woodbury, August 24, 1862
  8. To wife, Fort Alexander, Md., September 7, 1862
  9. To wife, Fort Alexander, Md., September 14, 1862
  10. To wife, Fort Alexander, Md., September 21, 1862
  11. To wife, Fort Alexander, Md., September 28, 1862
1 4 Letters of Elijah Penny, October-December 1862
  1. To wife, Fort Alexander, Md., October 5, 1862
  2. To wife, Fort Alexander, Md., October 17, 1862
  3. To wife, Fort Alexander, Md., October 26, 1862
  4. To wife, Fort Alexander, [Md.], November 2, 1862
  5. To wife, Fort Ethan Allen, Va., November 23, 1862
  6. To wife, Fort Ethan Allen, Va., November 30, 1862
  7. To wife, Fort Ethan Allen, Va., December 7, 1862
  8. To wife, Fort Ethan Allen, Va., December 14, 1862
  9. To wife, Fort Ethan Allen, Va., December 22, 1862
  10. To wife, Fort Ethan Allen, Va., December 28, 1862
1 5 Letters of Elijah Penny, January-June 1863
  1. To wife, Fort Marcy, Va., January 23, 1863
  2. To wife, Fort Marcy, Va., January 25, 1863
  3. To wife, Fort Marcy, Va., March 7, 1863
  4. To wife, Fort Marcy, Va., April 9, 1863
  5. To wife, Fort Marcy, Va., April 22, 1863
  6. To wife, Fort Marcy, Va., April 29, 1863
  7. To wife, Regiment Hospital, Fort Ethan Allen, Va., May 13, 1863
  8. To wife, Fort Ethan Allen, Va., June 14, 1863
1 6 Letters of Alfred Penny, 1861-1863
  1. To father, New York, April 24, [1861]
  2. To father, Washington, [D.C.], May 22, 1861
  3. To E. Penny, Camp Draper, near Washington, D.C., H.Q. Company C, 2nd Regt., May 26, 1861
  4. [To father], Camp Draper, June 11, [1861]
  5. To Father, Camp Draper, June 21, [1861]
  6. To father. Camp Powell, Washington, D.C., August 3, 1861
  7. To E. Penny, Camp Brady, Poolsville, [Md.], August 23, 1861
  8. To father and mother, Camp Brady, Poolsville, [Md.], August 30, 1861
  9. To E. Penny, Camp Gorman, Poolsville, [Md.], November 29, 1861
  10. To Charles [Penny], Camp Gorman, Poolsville, [Md.], December 8, 1861
  11. To father, H.Q. 2nd Regt. N.Y.S.M., Poolsville, [Md.]. January 10, 1861 [sic, but more likely January 10, 1862]
  12. To mother, H.Q. 2nd N.Y.S.M., near Kent Court House, Va., May 19, 1862
  13. To father and mother, Camp Danora, September 12, 1862
1 7 Letters of Archibald Penny, May-June 1961
  1. To father, Bowery, May 15, 1861
  2. To father, Bowery, May 19, 1861
  3. To mother, Bowery Steamship, Vanderbilt, Potomac River, May 27, [1861]
  4. To father, Washington, [D.C.], May 29, 1861
  5. To father, Dans Vill [sic], Maryland, June 13, 1861
  6. To father, Poolsville, [Md.], June 20, 1861
  7. To mother, [near] Poolsville, [Md.], June 22, 1861
  8. To father and mother, junction of the [Monocacy] River, [Md.], June 23, 1861
  9. To father, Monocacy River, [Md.], June 30, 1861
1 8 Letters of Archibald Penny, July 1861
  1. To father, Martins Burg, [sic], Va., July 9, 1861
  2. To father, Martins Burg [sic], Va., July 11, 1861
  3. To father and mother, Bunker Hill, Va., July 16, 1861
  4. To father and mother, Charlestown, Va., July 18, 1861
  5. To father and mother, Charlestown, Va., July 19, 1861
  6. To father and mother, Harper’s Ferry, July 22, 1861
  7. To father and mother, Harper’s Ferry, July 26, 1861
  8. To father, Port Backs, July 29, 1861
  9. To father and mother, Sandy Hook, July 30, 1861
1 9 Letters of Archibald Penny, August 1861
  1. To father and mother, Sandy Hook, August 1, 1861
  2. To father and mother, Camp Davison, Sandy Hook, August 4, [1861]
  3. To father and mother, Camp Davison, Sandy Hook, August 8, [1861]
  4. To father and mother, Sandy Hook, August 8, 1861 (2nd letter)
  5. To father, Camp Davis [sic], August [9], 1861
  6. To father and mother, Camp Davison, Sandy Hook, August 13, 1861
  7. To father and mother, on the banks of the Monocacy River f miles from its mouth, August 18, 1861
  8. To father and mother, on the banks of the Monocacy River 5 miles from its mouth, August 20, 1861
  9. To father and mother, banks of the Monocacy River, August 21, 1861
  10. To father and mother, Davis Town, August 30, 1861
1 10 Letters of Archibald Penny, September-October 1861
  1. To father and mother, Davis Town, Md., September 1861
  2. To father and mother, Davis Town, Md., September 2, 1861
  3. To father and mother, Davis Town, Md., September, 8, 1861
  4. To father and mother, Davis Town, Md., September 10, 1861
  5. To father and mother, Davis Town, Md., September 13, 1861
  6. To father and mother, Davis Town, Md., September 17, 1861
  7. To father and mother, Davis Town, Md., September 24, 1861
  8. To father and mother, Davis Town, Md., September 27, 1861
  9. To father and mother, Davis Town, Md., October 2, 1861
  10. To aunt, Davis Town, Md., October 13, 1861
  11. To brothers, Davis Town, Md., October 16, 1861
  12. To brother, Camp Smith, October 16, 1861
  13. To mother, Camp Smith, October 16, 1861
  14. To mother, Edward’s Ferry, October 23, 1861
  15. To father, Muddy Branch, October 27, 1861
  16. To mother, Muddy Branch, October 28, [1861]
1 11 Letters of Archibald Penny, November – December 1861
  1. To mother, Muddy Branch, November 2, 1861
  2. To parents, HQ, 9th Regt. N.Y.S.M. Eastern Maryland, November 6, 1861
  3. To mother, Camp Priscane, Md., November 12, 1861
  4. To mother, Muddy Branch, November 20, 1861
  5. To father, Muddy Branch, November 20, 1861
  6. To mother, Muddy Branch, November 23, 1861
  7. To mother, Muddy Branch, November 28, 1861
  8. To mother, Frederick Junction, [Md.], December 4, 1861
  9. To parents and all, Egantown[?], Md., December 14, 1861
  10. To father, Egantown[?], Md., December 16, 1861
  11. To father, Camp Classon, December 18, 1861
  12. Dear parents, Frederick Junction, [Md.], December 26, 1861
1 12 Letters of Archibald Penny, January-March 1862
  1. To mother, H.Q. 3nd Brigade, 2nd Division, January 3, 1862; lyrics for the song of 9th Regiment on 2nd sheet
  2. To father and mother, Frederick Junction, Md., January 5, 1862
  3. To father and mother, Camp Classon, January 10, 1862
  4. To parents, Frederick Junction, [Md.], January 13, 1862
  5. To father and mother, Frederick Junction, Md., January 14, 1862
  6. To parents, Camp Classon, Md., January 20, 1862
  7. To mother, H.Q. 3nd Brigade, 2nd Division, January 27, 1862
  8. To [family], Davistown, Md., January 28, 1862
  9. To parents, Camp Classon, Md., February 8, 1862
  10. To parents, Camp Classon, Md., February 12, 1862
  11. To parents, Frederick, [Md.], February 15, 1862
  12. To mother, near Frederick, Md., February 20, 1862
  13. To mother, Charlestown, Va., March 4, 1862
  14. [To parents], Camp near Smithfield, March 9, 1862
  15. To mother and sister Louisa, Winchester, Va., March 14, 1862
  16. To mother, Winchester, Va., March 19, 1862
  17. To mother, Camp near Goose Creek, Va., March 27, 1862
1 13 Letters of Archibald Penny, April-June 1862
  1. To mother, Camp near Warrington [sic], Va., April 3, [1862] (Most likely he was near Warrenton, Va.)
  2. To mother, Camp near Warrington [sic], Va., April 9, 1862
  3. To mother, Camp near Warrington [sic], Va., April 12, 1862
  4. To mother, Camp near Warrington [sic], Va., May 1, 1862
  5. To mother, Camp Stanton, May 11, 1862
  6. To mother, Fredericksburg, Va., May 16, 1862
  7. To mother, Fredericksburg, Va. May 19, 1862
  8. To mother, Fredericksburg, Va., May 23, 1862
  9. To mother, Front Royal, [Va.], June 2, 1862
  10. To mother, Front Royal, Va., June 6, 1862
  11. To mother, Front Royal, Va., June 9, 1862
  12. To mother, Manassas, Va., [June 21, 1862]
  13. To father, Manassas, Va., June 22, 1862
  14. To mother, Manassas, Va., June 24, 1862
1 14 Letters of Archibald Penny, July-September 1862
  1. To mother, Manassas Junction, Va., July 2, 1862
  2. To mother, Warrenton, Va., July 30, 1862
  3. To mother, Warrenton, Va., August 8, 1862
  4. To mother, near Culpeper, Va., August 11, 1862
  5. To mother, Cedar Mountain, Va., August 19, 1862
  6. To mother, Hell’s Hill, Va., September 3, 1862
  7. To mother Camp near [?], September 8, 1862
  8. To mother, Camp near Sharpsburg, Md., September 20, 1862
  9. To mother, Camp near Sharpsburg, Md., September 21, 1862
1 15 Letters of Archibald Penny, October-December 1862
  1. To mother, Camp near Sharpsburg, Md., October 2, 1862
  2. To mother, Camp near Sharpsburg, Md., October 16, 1862
  3. To mother, Camp near Sharpsburg, Md., October 21, 1862
  4. To mother, Camp near Hamilton, Va., November 2, 1862
  5. To mother, Camp near Rappahannock Station, Va., November 11, 1862
  6. To mother, HQ, 3rd Brigade, 2, Division, November 24, 1862
  7. To mother, HQ, 3rd Brigade, 2, Division, November 27, 1862
1 16 Letters of Archibald Penny, January-June 1863
  1. To parents, Cedar Mountain, Va., January 18, 1863
  2. To father, Flechers Chappal [sic], Va., February 17, 1863
  3. To mother, HQ, 3rd Brigade, 2, Division, Army Corps, Va., March 11, 1863
  4. To mother, HQ, 3rd Brigade, 2, Division, Army Corps, Va., March 23. 1863
  5. To mother, Flechers Chappal [sic], Va., March 31, 1863
  6. To father, Flechers Chappal [sic], Va., April 12, 1863
  7. To mother, HQ, 3rd Brigade, 2, Division, Va., April 19, 1863
  8. To mother, Fitshue House, Va., May 1, 1863
  9. To mother, Camp near White Oak Church, [Va.], May 14, 1863
  10. To mother, Camp near White Oak Church, Va., May 22, 1863
  11. To mother, Camp near White Oak Church, Va., June 6, 1863
  12. To mother, Camp near White Oak Church, Va., June 9, 1863
  13. To mother, Gilford Station, Va., June 21, 1863
  14. To mother, HQ. 9th Regt. N.Y.S.M., June 30, 1963
1 17 Letters of Archibald Penny, July-December 1863
  1. To mother, on the field near Gitets Burg [sic] Pa., July 2, 1862 (content indicates this should be Gettysburg, Pa., July 2, 1863)
  2. To mother, South Mountain, Md., July 9, 1863
  3. To mother and father, [n.p.], July 15, 1863
  4. To father and mother, Waterford, Va., July 17, 1863
  5. To parents, near Middleburg, Va., July 22, 1863
  6. To parents, Camp of the 9th Regt. N.Y.S.M., July 26, 1863
  7. To father, [Camp] 9th Regt. N.Y.S.M., August 2, 1863
  8. To mother, Rappahannock Station, [Va.], September 6, 1863
  9. To parents, HQ. 9th Regt. N.Y.S.M., October 2, 1863
  10. To parents, Camp Thoroughfare Gap, [Va.], October 21, 1863
  11. To father, Camp near Catlett’s Station, November 6, 1863
  12. To parents, Camp at Liberty, Va., November 16, 1863
  13. To parents, Kelly’s Ford, Va., December 8, 1863
  14. To parents, Mitchell’s Station, Va., December 26, 1863
  15. To parents, near Mitchell’s Station, Va., December, 29, 1863
1 18 Letters of Archibald Penny, January-April 1864
  1. To Eugene, Cedar mountain, Va., January 17, 1864
  2. To parents, Bald mountain, Va., February 6, 1864
  3. To parents, Culpepper, Va., February 17, 1864
  4. To parents, Culpepper, Va., March 4, 1864
  5. To Louisa, Culpepper Court House, Va., March 4, 1864
  6. To parents, Culpepper Court House, Va., March 10, 1864
  7. To parents, Culpepper, Va., March 18, 1864
  8. To parents, Culpepper, Va., March 31, 1864
  9. To parents, Culpepper, Va., April 12, 1864
  10. To parents, Culpepper, Va., April 28, 1864
1 19 Miscellaneous Penny family letters and papers, 1863-1872
  1. Jane Penny to husband [Elijah Penny], June 6, 1863
  2. Jane Penny to husband, Patterson, June 14, 1863
  3. Letter to mother, Amenia, July 20, 1870
  4. C.N. Penny to [E. Penny], Amenia, [N.Y.], January 19, 1872
1 20 Transcripts of selected letters
  1. Alfred Penny to father, New York, April 24, [1861] (Folder 6)
  2. Archibald Penny to father, Bowery, May 19, 1861 (Folder 7)
  3. Archibald Penny to Elijah Penny, Monocacy River, June 30, 1861 (Folder 7)
  4. Archibald Penny to Elijah and Jane Penny, Harper’s Ferry, July 26, 1861 (Folder 8)
  5. Alfred Penny to Charles [Penny], Camp Gorman, Poolsville, [Md.], December 8, 1861 (Folder 6)
  6. Alfred Penny to father, H.Q. 2nd Regt. N.Y.S.M., Poolsville, [Md.]. January 10, 1861 [sic, but more likely January 10, 1862] (Folder 6)
  7. Archibald Penny to mother, H.Q. 2nd N.Y.S.M., near Kent Court House, Va., May 19, 1862 (Folder 6)
  8. Elijah Penny to wife, Fort Woodbury, June 29, 1862 (Folder 2)
  9. Elijah Penny to wife, Fort Woodbury, July 6, 1862 (Folder 3)
  10. Elijah Penny to wife, Fort Woodbury, July 18, 1862 (Folder 3)
  11. Elijah Penny to wife, Fort Woodbury, July 20, 1862 (Folder 3)
  12. Elijah Penny to wife, Fort Woodbury, July 28, 1862 (Folder 3)
  13. Elijah Penny to wife, Regt. Hospital, Fort Ethan Allen, Va., May 13, 1863 (Folder  5)
  14. Jane Penny to husband [Elijah Penny], June 6, 1863, with shorter missive to “Dear Pa” signed Louise (Folder 19)
  15. Elijah Penny to wife, Fort Ethan Allen, Va., June 14, 1863 (Folder 5)
  16. Jane Penny to husband [Elijah Penny], June 14, 1863 (Folder 19)
  17. Archibald Penny to mother, on the field near Gitets Burg [sic] Pa., July 2, 1862 (content indicates this should be Gettysburg, Pa., July 2, 1863) (Folder 17)
  18. Archibald Penny to mother, South Mountain, Md., July 9, 1863 (Folder 17)
  19. Archibald Penny to parents, Culpepper, Va., April 28, 1864 (Folder 18)
  20. [Undated fragment]
Last Updated: September 15, 2014