1863: Annie E. Hall to Alfred McClay

This letter was written by Annie E. Hall (1847-1904), the daughter of Rev. William S. Hall (1809-1867) and Mary Schenk Dye (1819-18xx) of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Annie married Leonard H. Grenewald (1843-1920) in June 1869. A newspaper correspondent once called her “one of the brainy women of the country” when he learned of her work in maintaining the Philadelphia weather forecasting station. She received notoriety for predicting and announcing the approach of storms in the 1880s.

Screen Shot 2020-03-07 at 4.11.43 PMAnnie’s father was the pastor of the North Baptist Church in 8th Street above Master Street in Philadelphia. Later in 1863, Rev. Hall would have to give the funeral sermon for his own 28 year-old son, John F. Hall (1835-1863) who was mortally wounded at Gettysburg while serving in Co. B, 68th Pennsylvania Volunteers. Rev. Hall’s residence was on 1502 Franklin Street in Philadelphia.

Annie wrote the letter to her friend, Alfred McClay (1846-1863)—a private in Co. E, 114th Pennsylvania (Collis’ Zouaves). Alfred received a gunshot wound to the right thorax during the Battle of Fredericksburg. The wound was initially characterized as “slight” and it was presumed by all that he would recover. He was sent to Harewood Hospital in Washington D. C. where he seemed to improve but periodic episodes of bleeding prompted the attending physician to attempt the removal of one of Alfred’s ribs. He died not long afterwards on 24 January 1863.


Tuesday, January 6th 1863
No. 1502 Franklin Street, Philadelphia [Pa.]

My dear friend,

Thinking that you would be glad to hear from one of your old friends in Philadelphia, I thought that I would write you a few lines this morning. I was very sorry indeed when I heard that you was wounded but I earnestly hope and pray that you may recover. I suppose you are very anxious to get into one of the hospitals here in Philadelphia but I guess not more anxious to get here than we all are to get you here. We occasionally hear from Alfred Layman ¹ through his mother. The last we heard was very well and doing well.

Lieut. Stevenson was at home during the holiday week. Will expected to get home also but could not unless he took a false pass from the Major and he would not accept of.

The last we heard from [my brothers] John and Will they were both well and in good spirits.

Nothing of any important appears to be occurring here. People are beginning to take the “war news” calmly and as a “matter of course.” The “secesh” allow now that “the Confederates may lose Richmond but they never will bow to northern tyranny.” I wonder how they can help it?

How was you pleased with the President’s “Emancipation Proclamation?” The people in Philadelphia are all suddenly changed. They allow that it is “just the thing” that they’ve been looking and praying for it for sometime. They begin to think that it is not well to express their opinions in opposition to that of the President.

There are a great many young people that are beginning to attend our church—especially young men. George Sensenderfer, Frank Highly, Joe Harper, Theo. Wood, D. Mayhew. Frank Lockerman and the rest of your acquaintances of both sexes are all well.

I expect that the protracted meetings for this winter will soon begin and I hope that many may be brought to Christ who will be a bright and shining light in His vineyard, may continue faithful to the end & receive the crown of life that is prepared for them when they are come to walk through the pearly gates and over the golden streets of the City of New Jerusalem.

Excuse this miserable writing and all mistakes as I am in a great hurry having to meet an engagement with Caddie Hartman to go to 4th and George’s Street Hospital at 1½ o’clock. It’s nearly that now.

I remain ever yours truly, — Annie E. Hall

N. B. Please answer as soon as convenient and you will greatly in so doing oblige me.

¹ Alfred Layman was born in Philadelphia in 1844. A carpenter by trade, he enlisted in the 118th Pennsylvania (the Corn Exchange Regiment) as a private and rose in rank to Sergeant. He received a slight wound at Shepherdstown and Gettysburg. After the war he graduated from the Hahnemann Medical College of Philadelphia and set up his practice in Philadelphia.

Screen Shot 2020-03-07 at 4.33.18 PM
Annie E. (Hall) Grenewald in later years

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