91st PA--sending money etc. home

Sending money (or objects) home

Robert Armstrong's letters illustrate three ways in which soldiers sent money home.

  1. They sometimes mailed it, as he did with his letter of 22 December 1863.
  2. They used private carriers, as Armstrong did, sending money with the Adams Express Company before his letter of 5 June 1862.
  3. Finally, sometimes they sent it with other soldiers, as Armstrong did before his letter of 24 April 1863, when he had Sergeant William Fraley (H) send the money to his mother Jane Fraley to be given to Robert's mother Mary, by giving it to William Spangler (G). (Was this complicated delivery route more trustworthy than the other two? Or was it simply less expensive?)

A letter from Andrew Brown mentions another express company, Harnden's Express, which he said had 'resumed taking freight for the army of the Potomac', and that they 'can send the certificate of the box down in the next letter'. (See 'The Express Freight Companies' (accessed 5 July 2014).) He sent his letter with Ambrose Baker, and offered Baker's services for sending a penknife and small carpenter's hatchet to him. In a letter dated 14 April 1862, from Washington DC, he notes that it cost 25 cents to send his family $45 by Adams Express. And in a letter dated 26 August 1862, after the regiment was assigned to the Fifth Corps and left Alexandria, he wrote his father and sister that he had shipped everything he couldn't carry in a box, by Adams Express. In a letter dated 30 January 1863, he noted that he had waited to answer their letter of the 23rd because he was 'waiting for somebody to take [his] money home'; he eventually found someone (presumably James B Diehl), and it was waiting for them with C F Diehl (James Diehl's father).

Note that John Flynn (E) sent $40 home in two separate letters on the same day.

Patrick Cahill (F) used Adams Express, and apparently also sent $80 with a man who was going on furlough.

William H Johnson (K) sent money with the company's First Sergeant (according to a letter of 11 February 1862), by letter (4 June 1862 and 21 February 1863), and by William Cloud (K) (4 January 1864).

Andrew Brown (C) sent $25 home with Captain Parsons, sent $50 by Adams Express, and sent $15 by letter. When the regiment left Alexandria to join the Army of the Potomac, he sent a box with his old clothes and other things he couldn't carry home, by Adams Express. When he was in the Fifth Corp Hospital, he was paid with the rest of the regiment, but had no way to send the money home.

Henry Mathers (E) sent $40 by Adams Express, $20 with Alderman Lentz (brother of John D Lentz (captain, co. E), and $20 by mail (among other amounts). On 11 February 1862, he said that Alderman Lentz 'takes all the boys [sic] money home for them', and described sending money with Lentz as 'the safest way' of sending money.

Soldiers also received goods by express. When a visitor didn't bring Andrew Brown (C) the shirts he expected, he told his father and sister they could 'send them down by express for about twenty-five cents and be oblidged [sic] to nobody'.

And when Kersey J Cook died, Augur General Hospital sent home his effects by Adams Express.

And even Colonel Wallace might be used as a courier: Andrew Brown reported in a letter dated 16 June 1862 that he had received 'the paper you sent with Col Wallace'!

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revised 18 Mar 15
contact Harry Ide at [email protected] with comments or questions