Images of A.P. Hoadley's letters

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"A Principle of Duty"


Augustus P. Hoadley was 26 years old when he left the family farm in Pennsylvania to go off to war. Although his sister Emma was just a teenager at the time, their letters show the two shared a special relationship. A.P. wrote to Emma frequently and affectionately, filling his letters with descriptions of his day-to-day life in the army camp where he and his fellow recruits trained and waited for further orders from the battlefront.


In this letter A.P. is feeling well except for a cold. Many people are getting sick. However, everything seems to be quiet as far as the war is concerned. He is voicing his concern about the length of their stay, for they have no barracks to live in, just tents. A.P. is awaiting his father's arrival. He learned of a man from his town that has hired a substitute. He remarks that $150.00 wouldn't have been enough to hire him. He just wanted to serve his country. A.P. is also eager to hear about how the draft came out. He wants to hear who was chosen from Bradford.


"Please Write Soon"


One of A.P.'s chief comforts during the War was the mail he received from home. He craved bits of news from "the little house on the hill" in Pennsylvania and scolded his sister when her letters grew too short or left out important details. "There are thousands of things for you to write about," he chided Emma. ". . . You don't say a word about any of the neighbors what they are doing. [Hasent] Father planted anything in the garden but beans? Why don't you tell me about every thing? How much new fence has he made this spring. Have you got any pigs chickens or goslings? . . . there when you write again you can answer these questions . . . "


"I hope some day to return"


On April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered his army at Appomattox, Virginia. and A.P. wrote to Emma two weeks later, elated with the Union's victory and his own plans to return home and begin teaching. But his letter was also filled with sadness over the assassination of President Lincoln.


. "Take good care of it"


Mary fingered the small square of black cloth. The sprig of clover and the river stone had long since disappeared from their envelopes. But Emma had honored A.P.'s request to save his most treasured keepsake. When she moved away from Pennsylvania, she packed a leather trunk with her most precious possessions inside, including the scrap of cloth and the bundle of letters from her brother.



"Sickness and Suffering"


While A.P. was spared from marching into the bloodiest battles, he encountered the horrors of war firsthand in his hospital work. He spent long hours changing bandages and assisting doctors during amputations to remove arms and legs shattered by gunfire. More often, however, he tended to soldiers suffering from diseases like typhoid fever and dysentery, caused by the filthy living conditions in the camps.


By this time Augustus is teaching in Clarence, Iowa. He is not well and has taken a week off from work. He has lost considerable weight and is down to 135 lbs. He is considering coming home and not doing the term in the fall. As always A.P. is wondering about home and scolding Emma for not telling of it. The strawberries are ripe in Iowa and the weather is dry.


J.L.Hauser, a friend of Augustus, writes to Emma expressing deep sympathy for the death of her brother. J.L. tells Emma of his relationship with Augustus and what kind of a person he found him to be.


Dear Sister Emma | A Principle of Duty | Sickness and Suffering | Please Write Soon
I hope some day to return | Take good care of it...


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Last updated:
September 30, 2003

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