Folded letter by US Navy Surgeon David Shelton Edwards
The letter was sent unpaid and the Pensacola postmaster marked it in the upper right corner for 25 cents postage due at destination, the correct rate for a single sheet letter going a distance more than 400 miles.
Addressed from the US Frigate Constellation, David Shelton Edwards outlines in the letter all of the promotions and reassignments that have happened in Pensacola, Florida since his wife Harriet returned to North. He corrects his previous letter (1978.0652.20) and explains that Mrs. Stewart is not the same person as Mrs. Richards but that she still should not "admit such exclusive attention to Mr. W[ard]." He relays stories about a ball that Dallas and his wife held for the men and gives her the news of all of their friends in Florida. He explains that "It is possible we will take a cruise to the windward in the Fall if the Indian War does not prevent. Our movements are yet uncertain," and thus doesn't think she should come for a visit again because it is likely he will be out to sea. He finishes with news of all of the doctors at the Navy Yard.
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."
US Frigate Constell
US. Frigate Constellation
Pensacola Aug- 20th 1837-
By the last mail I wrote to Delia & to Father, you of course have seen one of them; Capt Engle has taken the Grampus & Capt. Mac is ordered to this ship as Capt. of the Fleet; so I think Mrs. Mac* might come out now. Lieut Morris (Richard) wants much to tell him when you are coming so that he may write for his wife to join you at N. York you know she lives in Vermont. you might make up a very nice little party. but really I cannot think it best to bring out William unless you cannot tell what else to do with him. It is not yet certain so far as I know about the Com.'s coming to the North this Fall - as soon as I know for a certainty about it I will write you by Express & then you will know what calculations to make. If you come I suppose you will not be out before the latter part of Oct. or Nov. - but you must not be certain about it until you hear further from me.
I was misinformed about the Mrs. Stewart from Mobile - she was not the Mrs. Richards - but is the wife of a respectable lawyer in Mobile [( but between us it does not seem meet(?) that that she should admit such exclusive attention of Mr. W)] Capt. Mix got a leave of absence, but is now detained a week or two on a Court of Inquiry - Miss Amhela goes down to Foster's island to Salustina's to stay awhile for her health - she has a number of Beaus —. Whiting still visits occasionally - I hardly think it will yet be a match. her sister Florentina is becoming quite a Belle & is very handsome. I was mistaken about Miss Easton they are all to the North at school - it was a Miss Saucerman who was so polite to me at Mrs. Easton's & Mrs. Easton is now very polite to me - enquiring after you &c. they were on board here the other evening at the Ball given by Mrs. & Com. Dallas. It was a most splendid affair. there were near a hundred Ladies here & upwards of 200 gentlemen. the Ship was beautifully decorated only 2 or 3 of the Creoles came! [inserted from above: Miss Pelida m. & Cecilia C. were all!!] all strangers from Mobile & N. O. -
I believe the Creoles do not like it because Mrs. D. did not call on them
Mrs. Buck was here & stayed all night. she is about the same, but danced, I danced too. had a nice walk with a New Orleans lady- they stayed 'till near morning our late 1st Lt. Johnson has gone out to the Perdido to see Miss Inerarity. Capt. Mix' gallants the ladies about in his boats & goes up to the New Hotel & drives with them & call's them "charming - ladies"- Mrs. Buck has taken rooms at the New Hotel for a few days by way of change. It is quite full now. I expect I will have to send you out in the Country when you come, It is possible we may take a cruise to the windward in the Fall if the Indian War does not prevent. [inserted from above: Our movements] are yet uncertain.-I will tell you as fast as I know them. I perceive the Ontario was to have sailed on the 3d of Aug - you know you have an allotment of 100 a month at the Navy Agents Capt. Stout can draw it on the 1st of each month 3 months - I am glad you loaned Mr. M. the 50. - I have also sent you 50 in gold with the allotment ticket at the Nav: agents'. Mr. Ward is going to give me an agreement which I think will secure me his debt. If you want any more money say so, & if Father & Mother want anything you can give them, I know it will give you pleasure to do it.
I have just seen Capt. Mac. says he has just rec.d a letter from Mrs Mac, who says she saw you & the children at Bridgeport on your way - all well- glad to find you are at last in the Country. hope you will spend the Summer there where the children as well as yourself can have the benefit of exercise in a pure atmosphere; besides if you do not keep travelling back & forth with all your children & servants you will be able to get a little money ahead to spend when you see fit, you must charge the children not to eat any of the wild fruits & berries they find - because they will make them sick - you know the season of Dysenterry has arrived. in case they should get it - you know pretty well how to treat them. oil: Cast: — after which Rhubarb: 12-grains, Magnesia one drachem, opium 1 grain well combined in a mortar - & divided into 12 powders - form a very good medicine for Summer complaints of children giving a powder 2 or 3 times a day as required.—& drink toast water.
Dearest we have had some terrible hot weather here - but I think I stand it pretty well-I am frequently asked if I am not very young [inserted above: for] this appointment? - I sacrifice a great deal of happiness in remaining out here separated from you - I am constantly looking forward to the time when I shall meet you again- tell William & Harriet to be good children-& pay affectionate regards to all at home - ever yours DS. E.
Aug 22d -I heard last evening that Com. Bolton had obt.d a leave of absence - Mrs. Wiggim told me & Capt. Latimer apprehensive that Com Dallas might come to the yard, has applied for a Ship. (the John Adams) But I have nothing positive yet: but I begin to think it very doubtful about your coming out - time will show what is to be done. But I begin to think you will have to stay at home & take care of the children. and by the help of a good servant I think you might spend a long time at Father's which would contribute both to economy and health - In fact I think you would prefer it to the noise and dust & heated streets of the City - & at this unhealthy season too. the Yellow fever is very bad at New Orleans & it is said to be also very sickly at Mobile - It is yet healthy at this place but is very warm, - with land breezes, musketoes troublesome, very dry - city full of dust. and strangers - - I believe there is no doubt but Com. D. will before long, go to the Yard & Reed take the Squadron. Who I think [inserted from above: on pretty good authority] will be much more in the W. Indies than in Pensacola. & it is thought by those who know him that he will allow very few privileges to the Officers. Capt. McIntosh is now Flag Capt. - is looking very well - has joined our mess. has gone down to day to take some ladies to Foster's Island & Strong's. he read to me that part of Mrs. Mac's letter where she says she was much gratified at your calling to see her.-Now Dear you must show your wisdom by laying aside every thing like style at Father's & be content to live just as circumstances make it necessary - whether you have company or not - so good bye Dearest - Heaven bless you.
[written upside down on cover side]
Mrs. Ward is staying at Fishkill - she keeps writing by Express mail to Mr. W. for him to come home [inserted from above: Mrs. St. has returned to Mobile] A lady from N. Orleans states that Dr. Ruff is expected to be married to a Miss Davis there. - Dr. Olmstead is ordered as Act.g Surg.n to the - St. Louis.-Dr. Spotswood will now I suppose come to the Constellation
[written sideways in top margin of first page]
P. S. * Capt. Mac says he has decided against it as his time here is yet uncertain. Cap.n bolton will probably leave here very soon as I understand a written application to that effect has gone on. In which case Com. D. may apply for the Yard & Capt Reed I am told is promised the Squadron when Com. D. leaves it. And then Pensacola may not be made head Quarters; but some other place as Matanzas — &c. &c.. so. stay where you are till you hear further. -