Folded letter by US Navy Surgeon David Shelton Edwards
The letter was sent unpaid to Bridgeport, Connecticut, and marked at Washington, DC post office for 18 3/4 cents postage due at destination. This was the correct rate for a single sheet letter going a distance of 150-400 miles.
After giving his wife Harriet instructions for his parents' farm and a report on his own beets and potatoes, David Shelton Edwards continues with a description of his daily routine in Washington, DC. He details spending mornings at the Navy Yard attending to the hospital; in the early afternoon he comes home for rest and a meal. Then, in the evenings, he goes to listen to the Marine Band in the company of one of the "other nice young ladies" in town. He explains that while he misses her, they must use their time apart "for some good purpose" and that this time "it will be gone very quick." He finishes this letter by explaining that he does not think he should leave town any time soon due to an outbreak of chills and fever among men stationed at the 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.
yours by Henry I received early on Wednesday morning
You say in it that you will go over to Con. "next Tuesday" ; [6th] Did you mean Tuesday week? [13th] I thought so and you will receive my Sunday's letter at Huntington.
I should be sorry to give you the trouble of attending to our pecuniary affairs - until I try it a little longer I suppose you make your investments largely in the cap & bonnet stock. About my mishap at Baltimore you see I gave you "Ebony & Topaz" together. so that the bad may be nullified by the good. I want Father to tell me how Pony - gets on. if he is used any in the harness & how he goes - and how they use him if he will do for us here this winter I will buy a good gentle one for Father. Tell Father to lay in a good stock of flour as soon as he can get the new - for I am sure it will never be cheaper how does his crops turn out? I have had my potatoes dug up & carried in - about two barrels - & I have a fine crop of beets yet. I think we may find it best to keep house this winter yet. how are you off for table linen?
Dont be afraid of making your letter too long- you would you like to know how I spend my time? why after breakfast I kiss you good morning & march off to the Navy Yard & dont see you again till after 12 then I change my wet clothes [inserted from above: (wet with perspiration)] for dry. and sit down & rest myself & read a little before dinner which is at 3. after dinner it is too warm to stir for an hour or two at 6 we hear the music strike up in the Capitol square and we now see the company pouring in from all quarters charriots horse & foot - I then take you on my arm & walk out into Capitol grounds - oh! it is not you - well it is some other nice young lady then - for I know you like me to try to be cheerful & not get melancholly in your absence - The Lady I walked with yesterday I have been told sometimes looks so handsome that no Painter could make any improvements - we had a very pleasant promenade & she introduced me to some of her friends after sun down I accompanied her home where we found our worthy Pastor Mr Bean & Lady &c. so I could not have been in very bad company that time.-
Dearest. I am very glad to see you have some solicitude for your husband, it shows him that you have not lost your interest in him by his absences - Tho I do not think it right that we should make ourselves & our friends all miserable because we cannot see each other for one or two months. I hope you will employ this Interval of time to some good purpose as I have no doubt you will - & it will be gone very quick - & I will try to do the same - Tho I am as anxious to see you and the children as you can possibly be to see me.
Pa is very glad to hear that Willy, and Harriet too say their lessons regularly. I will come & see them again in a short time. in October.
It is only 2 weeks since I returned here & I do not think I ought to absent myself from my station very often, unless the requirements of my family make it very necessary. I am in very good health, but I see many cases of chills & fever about & I think there will bi much more of it before October. so that I am sure I did right not to bring you on this Summer. Mrs. Searcy sends her respects -
Col. Downing & Ward are on here from Florida - about the Indians - say they are still murdering & scalping the people there not with standing Gen: Macombs treaty.-
Is that a fig leaf. [small drawing of a hand pointing to a drawing of a leaf]
Why how small they are!
I hope I shall take all your good advice & take good care of myself till I see you again- God bless you Dearest - Give my love to all at home & dont let mother work herself sick - nor yourself either - make the children do - but dont let them anoy Mother with their noise - I'd put them up stairs- how is Miranda & family My love to im.-
Where? shall I write you next Thursday so that you may get it on Saturday.-
D S. E.