Six Letters

Delaney Malin, guest writer

I stood at the corner of my street, shuffling my feet on the rocky curb. Would I finally receive a letter from my father?

            As a twelve-year-old boy in a war zone and utterly alone, I felt unprotected. My mother is dead and my father is fighting in the war. On a good day, I managed to scavenge a loaf of bread to last me through the week. Two years after my father left, I felt hopeless. My mother left this world in December of 1812 when I was ten. Tuberculosis destroyed her lungs from the inside out until blood filled them and her respiratory system slowly failed.

            My dad and I moved to Washington, D.C. with hope of his finding a job. We lived in a small shack by an alley on the outskirts of town. In January of 1814, men arrived and took my father to war. I was powerless as I watched him go. I was twelve and terrified of living in such a large city all alone. Our sole connection would be our letters. Before my father left, he promised he would return by war’s end, and in return I promised that I would be here waiting. Unfortunately, only one of those promises would stand.         

            I was eager to receive my first letter from my father. I strived to think of a way to ease my nerves. My mom often brought up the topic of faith. However, I pushed the voice out of my head, as it confused me to think about. The sound of the gravel under the wheels on the wagon and smell of horses made my heartbeat speed up because I felt so far from my father and wanted contact with him. I felt this for 6 months until I finally was handed a letter on July 5.

July 5, 1814

Dear Clarence,

            I hope you are doing well. I apologize for not getting a letter to you until now. Training and getting into my routine has not been the easiest. Finding people with similar interests and forming bonds is much more difficult than I imagined. You are always on my mind. How are you doing? Are you managing to stay safe? Before today, I have been in Buffalo, New York preparing to confront the British. This week started off rough when my commander, General Scott, could not find enough uniforms for all the soldiers. Today, we fought the British on the Niagara River in upper Canada. It was complete gunfire on both sides, but after 25 minutes of the battle, the British withdrew. After the battle, we heard the sad news that the Americans lost 60 soldiers, had 249 wounded, and 19 missing (Seelinger). Fortunately, I walked away with only some bruises from falling on the ground trying to escape the gunfire. I will hopefully write to you again shortly.

 With much love,


August 26, 1814

Dear son,

            A lot has happened in the last week. I am longing for the day the war is over. I have thought about you every second the last few days with all of this destruction so close to home. I hope you are still managing to stay protected. Two days ago on the twenty-fourth, we got word that the British planned to march into Washington D.C. and burn down many of our government buildings along with the capitol and the presidential mansion. We immediately worked to evacuate many congressmen, officials, and the President from Washington. Thankfully, the storm following the attack assisted the putting out of the fires, although, much damage was still done. The fire left Washington . . . well you can see it for yourself.

Stay safe,


September 2, 1814


            Hello son, how are you? I am sure everyone back home is devastated with the destruction. The last few days, we have spent our time in Alexandria, Virginia. It has not been a successful few days for us Americans. The British came into the city and looted stores and took multiple items from our warehouses such as flour, cotton, wine, sugar, and tobacco (“A Brief History”). After five days of British siege and threats, they made their escape today taking all the items they managed to get their hands on. It was a major loss for us, but we are lucky that the British did not put the entire city up in flames. A couple more days and I am afraid they would have burned the city to a flat. How is home?

I love and miss you,

your Father. 

September 11, 1814

Dear Clarence,

            The war is slowly coming to an end but the days only feel longer. Each day feels like a week, and each week feels long enough for a whole war to have been fought. This last week in Baltimore, the British had planned yet other attack, but this time we were prepared. To defend ourselves, we built fortifications with the help of slaves, citizens, and soldiers. This will all be worth it in the end when I come back home to see my boy.

Stay strong,

your Father.

September 14, 1814  

Dear son,

            Only a little while longer until I will be home. Writing to you is the highlight of my day because I feel close and connected to you. As I told you in my last letter, we prepared in every way for the bombardment from the British. The British landed their forces at North Point with a plan to attack, but because we fortified our positions, we fought and killed the British commander. We then fell back giving the British the thought that they had won the battle, but when they approached the city, the British saw the major fortifications and turned away. If we had not been so well prepared, they would have entered the city and attacked. I am beyond relieved that that was not the case. I hope you are safe, son.

See you soon,


            As I stood wishfully waiting for a letter from my father at the end of my street, I remembered what my mom used to say when she felt anxious. I could hear her shaky voice in my head, “I am not much of a religious person, but in a time like this, He is our only hope.” I  kicked my foot on the curb without realizing the toe of my shoe was out, and my toes were slightly bloody. I thought about this “He” my mom talked about. I waited exactly 7 minutes longer until I decided “He” was my only hope.

            I sat their on the curb staring at the sidewalk with my head between my knees. I put my hands together and prayed a prayer I grew up hearing. Right as I said amen, I heard the sound of gravel flying up. The letter came! I looked up at the mail carrier, he handed me a letter addressed Mr. Scott. It seemed rather formal.

November 16, 1814

Dear Mr. Clarence Scott,

            We are sorry to inform you that your father is no longer with us. Among the seven Americans killed in at the Battle of Pensacola, we apologize to inform you that your father was one of them . . .

Our condolences.

Works Cited

“A Brief History.” n.d. Web. 31 Jan.                2018.

Seelinger, Matthew. “The Battle of Chippewa, 5 July 1814.” July 16, 2014.                      Web. 26 Jan. 2018. 


Hickey, Donald. The War of 1812. Illinois Books edition, 1190. Print. Staff. “War of 1812.” History. A+E Networks, 2009,            of-1812. Web. 21 Jan. 2018. n.d. Web. Jan. 21 2018.

Snow, Peter. “Your Guide to the Three Weeks of 1814 That We Today Call the War of 1812.”                       Smithsonian. Smithsonian Institution. 21 August 2014.                 history/your-guide-three-weeks-1814-we-today-call-war-1812-180952425/. Web. 28             Jan. 2018.