This letter was written by Pvt. Penrose Edmundson (1844-1864) of Co. F, 25th United States Colored Infantry. The 25th USCT was organized at Philadelphia in January and February 1864. They first served in the defenses of New Orleans till July 1864 and then Co. F (with 5 other companies) were sent to garrison the post at Barrancas, Florida, till December 1865 when they were mustered out of the service without ever having seen combat. According to the muster roll of the 25th USCT, Penrose died on 26 October 1864 while on duty at Fort Barrancas.
Pvt. Edmundson was probably buried in the cemetery affiliated with the Marine Hospital that was later taken over by the Barrancas National Cemetery. There are 154 known U.S. Colored troops buried in the cemetery; 98 unknown. A search in the cemetery’s database could not establish his burial there.
Note that Penrose signed his last name as Edmunson though his military record is spelled Edmundson and the envelope addressed to his mother has the name spelled Edmiston. In fact, census records for McVeytown Post Office, Oliver, Mifflin County, Pennsylvania, indicate that Penrose’s mother resided there in 1860. Her name was recorded as Rachel Edmiston (age 33) — a mulatto with two children: Mary E. (age 13), and Andrew (age 11). An elderly Black lady named Rachel Wells is also in the household and was likely her mother. All were born in Pennsylvania so were probably never slaves.
Camp Near [Fort] Barrancas
[Pensacola] West Florida
July 8th 1864
I take my pen in hand to let you know that I am well and hope these few lines may find you the same. I received your kind letter that you wrote on the 14th day of June. I was very glad to hear from you. We have been drawn up in a line of battle two nights hard running for [a] fight. The Rebs shot some 12 or 13 shots at our pickets but did not hurt anyone. We were waiting for them but they did not come and then all went to our quarters. They are afraid to come here. We have got too many forts here for them. Company F takes the praise for they are always first out.
I am very sorry to hear that all of our boys are cut up so bad. How is Aunt Mary getting along now? Has she been down since I left?
I suppose you had a great time on the Fourth of July. Sis plagued me. She said she had been further than but I guess I am up to her now. I have seen the elephant once more than ever she has seen or ever will see. If ever I get home, McVeytown won’t hold me anymore. Don’t forget to send me 3 dollars and some postage stamps. I must fetch my letter to a close and get ready for dress parade. Give my love to all the folks that inquire. If we get home and see gin negro [?], we will bill him.
Nothing more at present.
Company F 25th Regt U.S.I.
We whipped the rebels 3 times and we will whip them tonight again.