Folded letter by US Navy Surgeon David Shelton Edwards
The absence of the word "Paid" indicates that the letter was sent unpaid and 25 cents was collected from the addressee. The rate for a single letter (one sheet of paper) traveling more than 400 miles was 25 cents. In 1835 the letter probably would have traveled overland or by steamboat to Mobile, Alabama, where it joined the Great Mail route north using combinations of horse, coach, steamboat and train. The letter states there is a steamboat that transits every weekend between Pensacola, Florida and Mobile.
In this brief letter, Harriet receives instructions from her husband David Shelton Edwards to take her time settling their business in New York and to "bring the balance of spare cash on with you." to Pensacola, Florida. Edwards explains that he does not want to stay at this station much longer and intends to apply for the position of Fleet Surgeon when it opens up.
At this time Dr. Isaac Hulse was the Fleet Surgeon for the West Indies Squadron, the position that Edwards wants. Hulse was a well respected doctor and three time commander of the Pensacola Naval hospital until his death in 1856. A higher-ranking colleague, Hulse is mentioned frequently, if not always positively, in Edwards' letters.
This letter is part of the correspondence of David Shelton Edwards between the years 1835 and 1848. The 48 letters from this period held by the National Postal Museum are primarily addressed to Edward's wife Harriet; in 1830, Edwards married Harriet Eliza Henry and they had two children, William and Harriet. They kept up a frequent correspondence when his naval service kept them separated. Between 1835 and 1848, Edwards served as a Surgeon at the hospital in the Pensacola Navy Yard, Florida; Fleet Surgeon to the West Indies Squadron; and Surgeon aboard many vessels engaged in the Mexican-American War. His naval career spanned from 1818 to 1861 and his last sea cruise ended in October of 1859 after which he retired to his family home in Connecticut except for a brief time spent at New Bedford, Massachusetts recruiting for the Union Navy during the Civil War. He died in Trumbull, Connecticut on March 18, 1874.
Werner, Charles J. Dr. Isaac Hulse: Surgeon, U.S. Navy (1797-1856), his life and letters. New York, 1922.
U. S. Navy yard Pensacola
July 17th 1835 -
My Dear Wife,
two of your good affectionate letters I have just received Postmarked the 24th & 29th of June. I had been disappointed for several mails which are still a little irregular - your letters are a sweet cordial to this loving heart of yours, for. there can be no substitute for them until I have your own dear self here. I am very glad Case's mortgage is done with. & it must be a great relief to you. I am also very glad that Jessup has collectd. a part of the Penn(?). Debt. I think you must be quite flush now in your cash & I presume you will not sell any of the Brooklyn Insurance. After you have paid all your debts — & also made all your purchases & paid cash for them & got your receipts. & paid off Mr. Orr. & Mr. Cartright. ($25 you know) & rented our house & pew - at S.S. & rented your - pew or seat - in St. John's church (if you cant sell it) You may bring the balance of spare cash on with you. . We will have use for it here. -
But jokes aside [inserted above: between you & me & the bedpost] I will send you $200 next month which be more than the allotment for Sept. & Oct. would have been & if that is not enough for you you must say so - or make such arrangements as you can - I hope you will not have to make any use of my note. If Mr. Forbes is willing I would like you to give him power to receive the rent & the Dividend of the Ins. Stock - & to deposit it in the Savings bank in my name if he can. I hardly think any papers necessary but surely to tell Mr. Spencer that Mr. Forbes - or who ever you choose will receive the rent - & give his receipt for me - a little note from you to Mr. Spencer to that effect I am sure would be sufficient. but as I cannot tell exactly how you will come out in your money matters - you must adapt the final arrangement of these things to suit your circumstances. (Between you & me again & the Bedpost) I do not intend to remain here any longer than the following winter- if I can help it- & I intent to apply for the appointment of Fleet Surgeon as soon as a vacancy occurs.
Lieut. McIntosh informs me that his expenses at the yard here with all the economy he can use still exceeds his pay altho he has so small a family viz. wife & two children - & he has serious thoughts of leaving the station- Mrs. McIntosh is at present the only Lady at the Navy Yard - every lady else body else having left. & it is very doubtful whether Mr. Hunt will not countermand or revoke the order for his wife to come out. Mrs. Hunt will know all about it in Sept. So it is not yet certain about Mrs. Hunt's company. I thought so before. -
and you may yet have to go to Mobile - but we have a steamboat now which comes over from Mobile to Pensacola every Saty. or Sunday. It is about 40 miles from this place to Mobile point & about 30 miles [inserted above: farther] up the River to Mobile. Mr. Warren the master - is now on a 3 mo. leave of absence in bad health & does not expect to or wish to come here on duty again - The master's house is the same as mine how would Mr. R_n like it?
If you think it a good deal of trouble to make preparation for house keeping here for the short period we may remain here - why - I can get you very good board at a very good house kept by a Lady at Pensacola. Mr. Steele the Episcopal clergyman here with his wife & family board there - he says he prefer's it to house keeping both for comfort & economy- Mr. Ward I have heard enquired there for board - but I do not know now what may have been his arrangements - Perhaps you may see him as he has gone on to Washington on a short leave of absence Mr. Mc Intosh's Sister is now living at N. york - opposite S. S. almost. you might perhaps see her or have a visit from her. - Who ever may accompany you out here as your companion you may be sure will receive a hearty welcome from me. -
My Love to all I have not time to say more now as the mail is about to close. I am in good health. & I have the use of a very fine Ladies poney - for his keeping -
I am very glad to hear you are all well - take care of my knee
Good bye God bless you my dear wife
from your own affectt. Hub. - D S E