Folded letter by US Navy Surgeon David Shelton Edwards
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. Although hastily written in the upper right corner, the postage due was only 25 cents, which indicates this was a single sheet of paper. The rate for a single letter (one sheet of paper) traveling more than 400 miles was 25 cents. The absence of the word "Paid" indicates that the letter was sent unpaid and 25 cents was collected from the addressee.
In these directions to his wife Harriet about her preparations for her visit, David Shelton Edwards decreases the number of items recommended that she should bring with her. He tells her that if her knee is still not better soon she should not travel to see him in Pensacola, Florida because maintaining her health is more important. He concludes with further advice on how she should spend their money.
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.
National Museum of American History, Naval History Archives. David Shelton Edwards Papers. Accession Number: 1978.0652
New York Public Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts Division. "David S. Edwards papers, 1818-1865."
Pensacola July 22d.
Dearest Beloved, I ought now to have been on my way home if circumstances had not produced a change in my orders to the Falmouth - she left here a few days since for Norfolk - Capt. Macauley takes her home. Dr. Osborn (Fleet Surgn.) had gone in her, to return in the Constellation in the Fall - as she will be Com: Dallas' Flag-ship. Dr. Coulter who you know rehired me in the Falmouth is transferred to the Vandalia & gone on a cruise. he will be half crazy when he finds the Falmouth gone home - & he to remain here. - I occupy the House alone now. Except a Cold. washerwoman by my leave occupies the Basement story. I have all the kitchen furniture locked up in one of the rooms. I have a fine Liverpool Tureen now. a good pair of Lamps - & brass candlesticks plenty of tumblers & wines. a quart & a pint decanter. & 1 doz green edged dinner plates. so all we want is a small tea-set & a small-dinner-set unless you choose to get a tin oven & roaster. We have notable cloths here. - but you need give yourself no trouble about any groceries - oil or candles or anything to eat or drink. I have bought musketo curtains & have mattresses sufficient. You know what bedding I have. a few sheets pillows 2 or 3 -. about 3 blankets - 2 comfortables more.- & a bed spread a pair of fashionable Decanters. Castors. 1/2 doz. silver labels if they will give them!! a musical box & songbook. Websters Octavo Dictionary. & the map of the world. you need not to get any clothing at all for me of any description if I want any I will buy it here. & unless you prefer it you need not give yourself any trouble about saddles I can get you one here secondhanded - so you will have much of this trouble off your hands - Mr. Brooke the Superintendent of the dock here, left the other day for Washington & probably may not return he left with me an excellent little horse for a Lady's Saddle & bridle. is perfectly gentle & has a very fine easy gait. when you come out. I intend to buy him. but it is impossible to foretell what changes 3 months may bring. Mrs. Hunt most probably will not come out here. I am not at liberty to explain at present. [in confidence, Mr. Hunt whose health is not good. will probably go to the North; but he has some private reasons for not wishing this mentioned at present.—]
24th .. evening. your welcome messenger up to the 8th. I have just received. It is a source of very great consolation & happiness to receive your dear letters so regularly I cannot always be so regular. I have sometimes much public writing to do. & perhaps called away just at the time allotted to you; but(?) I will but I will never let you remain very long without hearing from me. except when the mails fail to go through. I am very glad to hear of the safe arrival of Sister Delia & Brothers Wm & John. & how does the youngster like the sea. & how does my little namesake get on.-
I hope Delia's travailing has not made her stomach very bilious.- tell her it is a good thing for her, it makes her feel so much better when it is over, but joking aside I have found that an excellent remedy for her complaint is a fold of linen dipped in spirits & wrapped around the back & take of the Tincture of Rhubarb 1.oz Tincture of Gentian 1/2. oz.- mix & take with a little sugar - from half to a teaspoonful once or twice a day. it will be a good thing for you too my dear - to give you strength & you may wrap another around your knee. my dear - wife I feel very anxious about that poor knee of mine.-if the blister did no good I fear the cartilage or ligaments of the joint are injured or disd.-in which case it might require not only weeks but months quiet & rest, and even a seton or issue established about an inch below the knee. Is it painful? is the pain constant? at what hour does it come on? & what circumstances increases it? is it inflamed? or swollen? Do you have any fever.? - If it is at all bad call in Dr. Hoffman & tell him I wish him to examine it - & treat it as he thinks best. As much as I want to see you I would forego the pleasure still longer rather than your knee should be sacrificed - I cannot bear. to think of it. - If it is not bad, perhaps a cloth dipped in spirits & wrapped around it - I think it would be well to consult Dr. Hoffman — I think Dear it will hardly be worth your trouble to bring a Carpet.- the Winter is short - & we will keep good fires during the day - & lay close during the night. & scold a little & love a good deal — a merino would be very comfortable during the winter- & bring your Chinese cloak. you will want it at sea. & supply yourself with good easy shoes - one or two pair of India rubber varnished prunelles(?) - will be very good for wet weather. & I would like a pair myself. 3/4.-ramp(?) very full.-a dark dress or two for sea wear -& [inserted from above: for use in] boats- & one or two fancy calico & gingham -, for light summer wear. & a good Sun bonnet & a green vail.& a longtailed shirt- by the bye how do the ladies like the compliments of peepers.- It is thought by some that Mackay was only looking out for a wife,& as a great deal of deception is said to be practised now a days he might want to see that all was right? he deserved to be (Eunuchised.)
Lt. Mc Intosh's sister miss Mary Mc Intosh boards about 6 miles in the Country: so I suppose you will not see her. there are a number of the Gentlemen of Pensacola gone & going to N. Y. all full of business. & you may perhaps return in the same Packet with some of them - in which Case do not fail to make yourself known to them & I know they would take a pleasure in showing you any attention they could. Dear I can never feel at home 'till you are with me & then I shall always feel at home. as soon as you make any arrangements about coming out let me know. the less baggage you bring out I think the better for things are very apt to injure here with the rust & mould & damp & moths. & for summer the less clothes on the better.
26th- Sunday. P.m. The steamboat from Mobile & N.O. has just passed the Navy Yard - going to Pensacola. she comes every Sunday now.-Now for business- I advise you to have as few open accts. as possible. & dont let those workmen & job men run away with all your cash. but you are right in having things done properly at once- so far as permanent improvement is concerned. & all necessary work about the house.- if you have the rear raised any I would have it incline a little just to keep it dry.& have the bank or fall turfed. with logs hewn square for steps. on the North side of the house I would leave a space for a Way with its natural descent. You say you have drawn a check for $200. for the expenses of improving about the house & paying workmen. all right. you have 546. in bank- you will have 100 of Mr. Spencer 1st Aug. & 95 - was paid from montrose & you can borrow 400. I will send you 300- next month perhaps.— & how much is all that?-
I think I would not sell the stock. if you can help it. unless it is very high - say 15 or 20 percent above par. You cannot tell exactly how much you will want until the work is done. & if you can only let me know in time I will provide for it if you use my note I think I had better. send you another payable the 1st of Dec. when is that made payable. & how much is it?-
My love to miss Mary F. & all the family who so kindly remember me & my love to ma & Mary & Delia & all our own family when you see them & I have still an ocean of my best Love for my own dearest Hatty
I have not time to add more now so goodbye & God bless you & make you well
I am now in very good health__. - your affect.- husband.
[written on address side]
D. S. E.