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.
David Shelton Edwards explains to his wife Harriet about his hesitancy towards sending her the previous letter in which he told her not to come visit and expressed thoughts that as soon as he finishes his current position he will leave Florida and move north to be with her and their children. He came to this conclusion after speaking with Mrs. Dallas who agrees that it is likely they will go out on a cruise in the autumn because it will be Commander Dallas' last chance before he leaves. He chides Harriet for not keeping a careful record of their finances. He gives her all of the current news from Pensacola, Florida and finishes by expressing how much he misses her and comments on the weather.
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 Sept. 3d 1837.
[answer to the 9th]
My dear Wife,
My last advising your remaining at the North, I sent with great reluctance. I felt very much like going to the Office to recall it. The idea of not seeing you for the whole winter produces a most indescribable depression of feeling, for which I am sure no pecuniary reward would ever compensate. and as we do not go much for glory - seeking only the respect & esteem of out friends. I shall be ready as soon as I have seen a reasonable term in my present situation, most willingly to relinquish it, and return home to my own Beloved, where my unchangeable affections & sweetest hopes of happiness are ever centered.
Dearest I do not forbid your coming out this Fall if you choose; but I cannot advise it; I think it more than an even chance that you would find us on a cruise in Oct. or Nov. I yesterday had a private Confab. with Mrs. Dallas & told her what I had written you. She thought with me that we should have a cruise this winter. for the Commodore's term will be out in July, & he may leave sooner. & this will be his only opportunity; but you know he cannot possitively answer such a question, because he must be governed by circumstances and the exigencies of Service. this is our private opinion of affairs. & under these circumstances I know you will not come.
Sept 8th} The Ontario arrived last evening. & Capt Breeze & myself went down in his boat to Camp Clinch to see Com. D. who with Mrs. D. are spending a few days with Mrs. Willis. We found Capt Adams & Dr. Coulter there & all the ladies - we had a good tea on the Piazza & in come the Com; Capt. Mac. Willis & Fauntleroy who had all been down to the Big Bayou-a fishing. Capt Mac had a letter saying that you was preparing to come South; but I told them you had received counter orders - & would not come at present. they all sent their best regards to you Give my thanks to Capt. Stout for the papers & letter sent me - and to Lt Ellery for the News papers. the Ontario is ordered to be ready for sea in 10 days. I received your letter of Complaints - of the 22nd. to day - In my last I gave a little advice, & some hints about your Winter Quarters - which I now reiterate, so read them again.-
I still owe about 400 for our late housekeeping expenses including my taylor's bill which I hope to pay off this winter You say my letter by L.t Swarthout is before you. Poor Wife - had only 2.50/100 left. & poor prospects ahead - thought she had better some back to Pensacola: — but your husband you see was thinking of you all the time — & sent you a very seasonable supply - & now Deary learn to calculate your expenses & keep a little ahead - for you have beside yourself two little children who must be provided for - and it is your lot to attend to it. well give them plain food & dont pamper them & feed them on sugar like Canary birds. if you do they will soon die.-
No Dearest I do not accuse you - for I believe you endeavor most scrupulously to follow my advice. the bitters were very good; I think. Cap. Stout says I was wrong in advising you to come out again & recommends your remaining there & says "I am looking for a place & expect to be settled before winter, & we should be very glad to have Harriet with us, - if she would like it." This accords so well with my views expressed in my last letter that It is now for you to determine - as for your staying at Ma's where there are boarders & other children against your judgement - I am sure she would not wish it - & you cant please every body.
You and your children would be a very fair set off to Delia & the Capt & you might divide the expenses, or any other way you like. If you occupy th S.S. house - why you would have no rent to pay. & I dare say the Capt. would make many improvements about it if he was there. and he might then have time to look around very probably he might suit himself in Westchester. the Capt. has some experience & I think regard the quality of the land & the pleasantness of situation more than the house - for that he can always make to please himself. If you live at S.S. & wish to make any improvements suit yourself & you'll suit me, as you always do. I intend to continue the allotment - which you can deposit in Bank - keeping what you require - for it is worth 15 per cent there for me to draw upon. I suppose furniture is cheap now-; but I would not think of buying up a house full - - Fashions change. I will send your Silver by the first good opportunity.
Dear - how could you go to lifting? will you never learn to be wise & spare yourself from heavy work? - well Dear I am sorry I am not with you - to do for you - bathe your back with spirits - lay down with your head lowest. &c. &c. & dont be walking & standing till you are fatigued. never wait till you are told - or till you are in pain before you take a seat. cold bathing.-
Respecting William - & Sisse- you should not notice with severity every little fault, - but correct them in a conversational way -& by example & make them emulous to excel each other in good behaviour. tell Willy & Sissy that Pa sends his love to them they must be good children every day. & Pa hopes they will never disobey their Ma-Ma - if they do you must write to Pa & tell him about it. Make your little pretty maid a [inserted from above: little] present every month - if she does well- I presume from the tenor of your letter that you will not be in Bridgeport much longer - so I send this to Brooklyn. My love to Ma & Delia & all the Family.-It is perfectly healthy here - Purser Buchanan is reprimanded. Dr. Valk acquitted only the Sec.y writes him a private letter - as it was proved that he challenged Mr. Buchanan - so ends the first act of this great affair.
Sept. 9th we have had only one good shower for 6 weeks -
Dont keep on hand any doubtful bills.-
good bye love & do take care of yourself for me.
W. I. Station
I hear [inserted from above: of you] through Mrs. Mac. very often,— which is very pleasant.Capt Mac is well & as ever a great favorite with all. Issabella- Mary & Melissa all send their compliments.
Mr. W.ard will I think when he returns take Mrs. W. into the Country.
I suppose there are many of the Grandees who having spent the Principal now live on the interest. maugre(?) the creditors.-well - it is the fashion.
Even Banks dont pay. some of them I think never will.
*[W. I. S.] West India Station