Folded letter by US Navy Surgeon David Shelton Edwards
The letter was carried privately to New Orleans, Louisiana, from Surgeon Edwards in Veracruz, Mexico, where it entered the US mail system on 22 July. It was sent unpaid to Sing Sing, New York. The New Orleans postmaster marked the letter for 10-cents postage due, the correct rate for a letter up to 1/2 ounce in weight going a distance greater than 300 miles. On 3 August at Sing Sing the letter was forwarded to Charlestown, Massachusetts. The Sing Sing postmaster crossed through the blue "10" marked at New Orleans and wrote "10" over "5" and the total "15" in blue ink, indicating that 10-cents postage from New Orleans plus 5-cents postage from Sing Sing to Charlestown was due, or 15 cents. The 5 cents added was for sending the letter to a new destination less than 300 miles away. At Charlestown the letter was marked in black ink "Forwd" and "15" below to show the total postage due of 15 cents.
After giving his wife Harriet some instructions for picking up a trunk that he has sent to her, David Shelton Edwards writes about the journey of the US Transport Ship Atlas so far: "It is time we are exposed to the attacks of the guerillas on our route - & perhaps other battles, but dont worry yourself for what cannot be helped & I hope another year will enable me to see you again." He describes the living conditions: " We are often without tents, we take only a change of clothing, no beds but a blanket, & we are always to sleep on the ground." He closes with the news that General Pierce (likely Franklin Pierce, later to become the 14th US president) will be in command of their trip home.
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.
U S Transport Ship Atlas
Vera-Cruz July 2.d 10 p. m.
I send home one trunk with a part of my clothing &c. Capt Homan of the Atlas kindly offers to ship it for me at New Orleans for New York in one of the Packets & to enclose in this letter a bill of lading- which when you receive you must look out for the arrival at N. York of the Packet & send on board for the trunk - by presenting the bill of lading. The other trunk I think of taking with me.
We leave tomorrow for our encampment my health is good & I hope I shall be able to endure the [illegible] fatigue & exposure & in all circumstances I hope I shall fulfil my duty & leave the result to God & my country.
It is time we are exposed to the attacks of the guerillas on our route - & perhaps other battles, but dont worry yourself for what cannot be helped & I hope another year will enable me to see you again. We are often without tents, we take only a change of clothing, no beds but a blanket, & we are always to sleep on the ground. I shall try to get a piece of a hide to lay upon. & to take all prudent care of myself & if I can endure it perhaps my health may be improved. Gen. Pierce formerly a Senator. is to command our train on the route,
write me every month. in the mean time
God bless you all - ever your affectionate -
D S. Edwards
Mrs Dr. D S. Edwards