Ebenezer Perkins to his Sister, 1778

During the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress extended the franking privilege to all members of the military, provided that an officer in charge franked the letters. Military officers used quill pens and stone inkwells for writing letters. Enlisted soldiers salvaged lead musket shot, warmed them over a fire, and shaped them into crude pencils.

Ebenezer Perkins (1757-1831) was a captain in the Continental Army in Colonel Prentice’s regiment. Perkins was one of many soldiers and officers who took an oath of allegiance to the cause of American independence at Valley Forge in the spring of 1778. In this letter he sends greetings to his sister, Elizabeth, and expresses hope that the war will end by the close of the year.

Letter from Ebenezer Perkins to his Sister, 1778

Letter from Ebenezer Perkins to his sister, 1778
Courtesy of the Valley Forge National Historical Park

Letter Transcript:

Camp Valley Forge May 15th 1778 –

Dear Sister

I have an Opportunity to write to you [by]
Mr Jonathan Burnam who I Imploy as a post to []
from Camp to Norwich you will please to send you[r]
Letters by him
I think there is the greatest prospect
of peace in america very soon France ha[]
is Independent and Spain and Prusia abo[ut]
same if not all ready done and by the best a
we Can get war is absolutely declard between us
and England and the enemy in Philadelphia are In
the greatest Consternation It is hopefull that the Eng[lish]
will be obliged to Leave the Continent before the —
Expiration of this year and that the Campaign will
Close in peace and I wish there might Never be a []
In america
I have no News in particular to acqua[int]
you with for I suppose you have heard of all the
good News before So must leave writing – After
telling you I am as well and hearty as usul
and Desiring you to remember me to all frien[ds]
in particular to our Honoured Mother
from your Very Affectionate Brother

Ebene Perkins