18 July 1861: “…it will be gloomy enough for me to see them come and know that you are left behind if you are…”

Item description: Letter from Lucinda M. [Hayne?] to her husband Albert B. Penno, a private in Company D of the 1st Regiment of Rhode Island Volunteers. The following words are written on the front of the envelope included with this letter, “Found on field, Bull Run, July 21 ’61.” This note is believed to be in the hand of Edward Porter Alexander, a Confederate officer who was also present at the Battle of Bull Run.

In this letter, Hayne comments on her feeling of uneasiness, specifically a feeling that Penno may not return from battle. “Sometimes I feel as if I never should see you again,” she writes.

Albert Penno was wounded on 21 July 1861 (three days after the date of this letter), at the Battle of First Bull Run. Penno was then taken as a prisoner of war to Richmond, Va., and died on 2 August 1861 of his wounds.

If Alexander’s note is to be taken at face value, this letter was likely in Penno’s possession when he was wounded at Bull Run.

[Item transcription available below images.]

Item citation: From folder 8 of the Edward Porter Alexander Papers, #7, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

Providence July 18 1861

My Dear husband

i sent myself to pen you a few lines not knowing whether they will ever reach you, god grant that it may and find you in good health as it leaves us all at home. I tell you what the last two days have been lonesome enough. Sometimes I feel as if I never should see you again, but I hope I shall. I see by the papers that you are in the midst of the Battle and that one of the 2nd regiment has got wounded and that your regiment took the secession flag from the Fairfax Courthouse. I suppose we shall know all about it in a few days when the first regiment gets home. They say here that they will be home next week. I suppose it will be a great day when they came home but it will be gloomy enough for me to see them come and know that you are left behind if you are [?] spared to get home once more…… I can tell that is if I …. I received a letter from you yesterday in it you say you want me to keep up good spirits. I try to but it comes hard sometimes, I can’t put my mind on my work or any thing else for I feel as if I had lost all the friends I had. Lizzie is all life expecting Albert home. I should like to see you tonight but I can’t so I will try to content myself by looking at your picture. But as much as I want to see you I should rather you would never come than to have you sent home as those fellows were last week, their names published in the papers and what they was sent home for. I want you to take good care of yourself and do the best you can and I hope all will be well. Do write as often as you can and I will do the same. I sent you yesterday by Mr. Grant one pound of tobacco and should have sent something more if I could. My will was good enough, but I had not the means. I have got to wait for a letter from you before I can get my money for if they know that I did not send the check there I could not get it. I am sorry you did not see that it was right before you left for I have needed it very much. Mr. Wightman and Saunders was in here tonight and said that Mr. Pratt was going on there to morrow and if I wanted to send any thing they would get him to take it ask I had nothing else I thought a few lines might be acceptable. He belongs to the first regiment. Don’t laugh at this scribbling for I am so uneasy to night that I can’t write. Don’t blame me to much for finding fault for I don’t mean to. I don’t know of anything more. Give my love to Daron and Dick and to your friends Charly and George. The children and myself send our love and best wishes to you and hope you will soon return at home. The Roys all send their love and Hannah, Marty, & John to you and Dick from your loving and affectionate wife.

Lucinda M. [Hayne?]

More about Albert Penno:

Albert P. Penno (Union) 

Enlistment:
- Residing in Providence, RI at time of enlistment
- Enlisted on Apr 17 1861 as Private

Mustering information:
- Enlisted into D Company, 1st Infantry (Rhode Island) on May 2 1861
- Died of wounds as POW while serving in 1st Infantry (Rhode Island) on Aug 2 1861 at Richmond, VA

Listed as:
- Wounded on Jul 21 1861 at Bull Run, VA
- POW on Jul 21 1861 at Bull Run, VA (Severe wound in left leg, amputated)
- Confined on Jul 23 1861 at Richmond, VA (Estimated day)

Sources for the above information:
- Register of Rhode Island Volunteers 1861-1865, (1893)
- The Medical and Surgical History of the Civil War, (Broadfoot, 1991)
- Richmond Prisons 1861-1862

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9 Responses to 18 July 1861: “…it will be gloomy enough for me to see them come and know that you are left behind if you are…”

  1. Tim says:

    Talk about poignant! I wonder what happened after he died? How and when did the writer of this letter find out? (And what was their relationship–his intended?) Was he buried in Richmond? I’m supposing his medical care from the Confederate medical corps might have been less than the best possible.

    • dcbh says:

      Great questions, Tim! I have wondered about many of these things, too. Unfortunately, I haven’t uncovered much yet. From my research, I believe that Albert was probably the son of a Jeremiah Penno of Rhode Island and that Albert was likely 26 years of age at the time of his death on August 4, 1861 in Richmond. Unfortunately, the source I have for census records (HeritageQuest) doesn’t include anything for Albert, Jeremiah, or Lucinda Hayne (which may also be “Haynes” or another spelling). That’s not to say census records don’t exist for these folks, I just don’t have access to them.

      Here’s one other fact that I know…the 1st Rhode Island Infantry Regiment saw the following losses at Bull Run (Manassas): 12 killed, 34 wounded, 25 POW, and 4 listed as missing. Albert Penno was apparently among the 25 prisoners of war from his regiment.

  2. Harry says:

    Hi! Great Bull Run stuff here. I maintain a website that compiles primary data on the battle. Would it be OK (with attribution) to post these Bull Run related documents in my Bull Run Resources section?

    • dcbh says:

      Thanks, Harry, for your comment. We would be delighted for you to repost our material on your site. (By the way, I’ve been catching up from time to time on your blog, BullRunnings, via Twitter. Really enjoy it!) Attribution and a link would be great, if you don’t mind doing it. Thanks again!

      More Bull Run/Manassas-related material will keep trickling through here in the next few days, stay tuned…

  3. Pingback: Letter to Pvt. Albert Penno, Co. D, 1st RI « Bull Runnings

  4. Pingback: Notes on Letter to Pvt. Albert Penno, Co. D, 1st RI « Bull Runnings

  5. Read this on Harry Smeltzer’s Bullrunnings blog..thank you for posting. Tactics are one thing but the posting of these personal impressions just melt ones heart. Life is forever altered for those left behind. As the news reads the names of our present fallen I can only think of the family members whose lives are forever changed. Thank you.

  6. Bill Kleppel says:

    (I left this reply several days ago, and it was deleted. Unsure why. Please contact me if there’s any pertinent information that’s required.)

    I’d noticed this story first on the Bull Runnings blog. Albert Penno and his Civil War Soldier family members are of historical importance to me. Penno is my maternal family name, and I intend to hand down my research to our family’s future generations.
    This is an amazing find, and I hope some of the information I give you can clarify some of the facts regarding the letter and Albert Penno.
    There are a few inconsistencies. Albert’s wife’s name was Elizabeth (Wiley) Penno, not Lucinda (There’s only one Lucinda in the Penno family at this time. She was a 1st cousin to Albert, who’d never married, and was about 15 years his elder). 

    However, the line in the letter “Lizzie is all life expecting Albert home” may have had substantial meaning to him. Elizabeth, his 3 daughters, and other immediate family members are buried at Grace Church Cemetery in Providence, RI.
    Two of Albert’s other cousins were veterans who survived the War. Thomas Henry Penno (my 2nd Great Grand Uncle) with Company D 2nd Infantry Regiment RI, fought at Bull Run as well. Benjamin Leonard Penno (my 2nd Great Grandfather) of Co. D 3rd Heavy Artillery Regiment RI.
    There are extracts in a diary from POW William J. Crossley, Sgt. Co. C 2nd RI Infantry, which also refers to Albert in regard to his injuries (it’s name ‘Extracts from My Diary, and from my Experiences While Boarding With Jefferson Davis in Three of his Notorious Hotels in Richmond Va., Tuscaloosa Ala., and Salisbury NC.’)
    July 23: “Colonel Slocum died at one o’clock this morning. Penno, of the First, had his leg cut off. We had some porridge made from meal the men brought in from the woods.”

    July 24: Colonel Slocum was buried this morning at the lower end of the garden* Major Ballou’s and Penno’s legs in the same place…”
    If I have any relevant research or documentation regarding Albert Penno that might help you, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Thanks for bringing this letter to light. If I can unearth anything pertaining to the other names associated with the letter, I’ll certainly send it your way. Thank you. –Bill Kleppel

    * Could this garden have been located at Sudley Church?

    • dcbh says:

      Dear Mr. Kleppel,

      Thanks for your wonderful comment. I apologize if your original note was deleted (we’ve had quite an onslaught of spam as of late, and it often interferes with our real comments!) and that it has taken so long for us to get back to you. Now that this comment has been ‘approved’ you shouldn’t see any other disruptions. Thanks for your patience and persistence.

      You’ve given us some really amazing information. Your inclusion of the excerpts from Crossley’s diary really helps to breathe life to Albert and his story. To your knowledge, was Albert the only Penno serving in the RI 1st? Do you know the date that he was transferred to Richmond?

      I’m stumped by the issue of Albert’s wife’s name (Elizabeth or Lucinda). I wonder if Lucinda was writing the letter as ‘Lizzie’ dictated? Maybe Lucinda was acting as an intermediary, or helped to deliver it, or some similar explanation? I wish I knew the explanation. Do you have a last name for cousin Lucinda? I wasn’t sure about its spelling.

      Would you have any genealogical research on Albert that you’d be willing to share? An individual or family data sheet? A simple family tree? I’d be interested, if you have such information and would be willing to share.

      Thanks again for your great comments!

      Biff Hollingsworth
      Southern Historical Collection, UNC