Folded letter by US Navy Surgeon David Shelton Edwards
The letter was sent unpaid and 10 cents postage was due at Sing Sing, New York. The rate is in the bottom of the Norfolk, Virginia postmark in red ink. This is the correct rate for a letter under 1/2 ounce going a distance greater than 300 miles.
David Shelton Edwards has finally found the time to write his wife Harriet the long letter that he has intended since arriving in Norfolk, Virginia. He relays everything that he is doing there, including catching the flu. He details housing options available to him and their costs. He then tells of calling on several different people in Norfolk including the women at the Ladies' lounge who extended an invitation to come visit whenever he wanted. He finishes by detailing the route that Harriet should take from her home in New York to come visit him.
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.
Norfolk V.a Tuesday
Nov. 28th 1848
My dear wife,
I wrote you a few lines from Baltimore & once since my arrival here; but I was so hurried that I did not write the half I wished
I find like others here I am getting a touch of influenza. but it is only very slight & I will try to wrap myself up warmly & drive it away. I am very well in other respects. I was until dinner making out a list of the mediums Required & then I went over to the Naval Hospital to return a call of Dr. McSherry's who is now stationed there. after dinner I spent an hour in the ladies' parlor one of [inserted from above: them] being desirous to consult me about her child - They insist upon it that the married Gentlemen whose wives are absent must come & report in their ways, two of the ladies Mrs Purser Bates & Mrs L.t Spottswood were knitting & one Mrs. Zanbzinger was reading Domby, we have about ½ a dozen naval ladies here & soon expect more. On leaving them I met Maj. Edelin who you know married Miss Nancy Carr - he took me over to his room at another public house a few doors from us & recommended me to come & take a room there - that I would be better accomodated & at less expense - I presume I will have to pay here [inserted from above: 10 or $] 14. a week Purser Bates pays [written above: $] 20 for two in one room.
Maj. E says I can have it there at [written above: $] 8. for myself.
In a day or two I will know more about it & will govern myself accordingly. for change is getting scarce with me. I have now only my travelling expenses to go upon - The purser has not yet rec.d my accounts from Washington & is not yet authorized to pay me anything
He says he thinks the allotments will be made out in the 1st January - & will of course be paid on the last of Jan.y & I will send you all I can spare of what I may receive in the mean time
Why cannot you come on with Capt Montgomery or some Friend to Baltimore. & then take the Baltimore & Norfolk Boat & spend a few weeks here. or shall I come on for a few days to see you I fear there may be difficulties in the way of my coming
Ladies travel now - very frequently under the protection of the Conductor - or the Cap.t of the Boat. The Baltimore Boat leaves every day at 4 P.m. & is at Norfolk before breakfast. I have not rec.d any thing from home since I left. I think it is time. In the evening I tramped up to Commodore Wilkinson's - with whom I spent an hour very pleasantly. I think we shall be at home next Summer, by Aug. & I don't believe we leave here before the middle of Jan.y - certainly not before the 1st nearly all the officers are here attending to their several duties.
I expect I will require to purchase Epaulettes [written above: $] 42 more.
Give my love to the children & write me about every one of the family - & tell me all the news you can think of.
I need not say how much I would be gratified If - you think it will do to come on here you can let Mont.y go to L. I. for a month & let Margaret & Catharine take care of themselves for a month & you can bring Martha on with you & at Phil.a take a check for your trunk to Baltimore & take a ticket to Havre de Grace & stop at the public house & send Martha up with the Capt. of the boat or [inserted from above: yourself] go with her to Port Deposit - the Port Deposit Boat shoves off on the arrival of the Cars - on the west side of the Susquehanna. & you can take the next train to Baltimore - get your trunk & come on to Norfolk
I think Ann Washburn would take Hector to his house & take care of him & if you shut [missing] the house for a month (without publishing it) I think it would be safe
Harriet you know could make a visit to Miss Hinman or go to school in N. Y. write me by the next mail - love to all - your own ever affect.e
[two letter K's with wavy circles drawn around them]. D S. E..
[written upside down on sides of cover]
No one I am told is at present staying with Mrs Cunningham & you might make her a visit
There is a St. Boat from Washington to Norfolk every fri[day] & S[missing]s on other days ——
Wednesday Nov. 29th
My influenza is not any worse, How would you like to go on to Washington & let me come there & see you
[written sideways in the left margin of the first page]
at Baltimore Gentlemen & ladies are very well accomodated at the Hotels opposite the Car office, without the trouble of taking a carriage up to Barnum's Hotel.- that is if you only stay for a few hours.
[written sideways in the left margin of the third page]
at Harve de Grace The public House is within a few rods of the landing in the west side of the Susquehanna.