Below is the scan of a letter from Private Albert Pancake, 80th Indiana Infantry, Company H, to his father William Pancake residing in Pike County, Indiana, dated September 25, 1862. Private Pancake had shipped out from Camp Gibson, Indiana, just two weeks prior and was writing to his father for the first time in his life. Included below is a scan of the envelope the letter was sent in.
letter was short. No doubt writing letters was an
unfamiliar activity for Albert and it would take him some
time to figure out what he should write and what was of
interest to his family.
This letter, like
virtually all his letters, is written on one piece of paper
which is folded longitudinally and scribed on both sides to
give the appearance of four written pages. The first scan
below is pages 1 & 4 (page 1 on the right hand side).
The second scan is pages 2 & 3 (page 2 on the left).
As you can see,
there is no punctuation, no paragraphs, phonetic spelling,
and inconsistent capitalization. All these characteristics
are quite normal for a modestly educated Civil War soldier
of the ranks. They also present a challenge to understand
This is the first
of many posts leading up to the publication of the complete
archive of Civil War letters written by Private (eventually
Sergeant) Pancake to his relatives in Pike County.
My thanks to Tad
Berlin for these materials and the permission to post them.