Valley of the Shadow
The War Years
Spring 1861–Spring 1865

Letters & Diaries


Sylvester and Harriet McElheney (1864-1865)

Before the war, Sylvester McElheney, a plasterer, lived with his wife Harriet in Fannett Township, Franklin County, Pennsylvania. In the last years of the war, Sylvester left his wife and home and enlisted in the army. He served as a private in the 208th Pennsylvania from September 1864 until his death April 1865. Harriet survived her husband and remained in Fannett after the war.

The following links provide access to the most likely matches in the Valley of the Shadow databases:

Sylvester and Harriet McElheney

Sylvester McElheney’s letters (1864-1865) to his wife, Harriet, during his time in military reveal their struggle to maintain close ties while he was away in Virginia. His writings also provide a Union soldier’s perspective on Virginia society and on the burning of Virginia homes in retaliation for the burning of Chambersburg. Two letters from Jacob Shearer and Frances Pleasants inform Harriet McElheney of her husband’s wounding and eventual death in the service.