Peter Atkin of Liverpool, England, and his son George received 10 letters regarding Peter's nephew, Englishman William D. Hope, between 1862 and 1866. Hope, an aspiring pharmacist, wrote 5 letters to his uncle and 3 letters to his cousin about his desperate financial situation, his attempts to find work in England, his experiences serving with the Union Army in the Civil War, and his life in Illinois in the year following the war. Two other acquaintances wrote Atkin about a visit Hope made to Nova Scotia in 1862 and about Hope's financial hardships.
Dr. William Denison of Newport, Nova Scotia, wrote Peter Atkin on August 6, 1862, concerning William D. Hope's recent professional visit and his local love affair, since broken off. William D. Hope wrote the following 4 letters to Peter Atkin and George Atkin, his uncle and cousin, respectively, while traveling around England between September 22, 1862, and May 2, 1863. Hope discussed his unsuccessful love affair with "Miss Paint" in Nova Scotia, and lamented his poor financial fortunes. He described his attempts to find work, as well as his difficulties in doing so, which he attributed to the machinations of a relative, David Hope. In his letter of September 22, 1862, he mentioned the dampening effect the Civil War had on business affairs in North America. Andrew Paton also wrote to Peter Atkin on January 26, 1863, expressing his displeasure at Hope's situation and his failure to call on Paton in Glasgow, Scotland.
Hope's letters from North America begin on December 1, 1863. In the 4 letters that follow, he described his work for the Union Army at Hart Island, New York, and at Lookout Mountain, Tennessee (2 letters, December 1, 1863, and January 19, 1865, 13 pages), as well as various aspects of his life after the war (2 letters, August 8, 1865, and August 20, 1866, 9 pages). He reported on his experiences as a medicine dispenser for a hospital on Hart Island, recounted his travels from New York to Tennessee, and explained his duties with the quartermaster's department at Lookout Mountain. He also commented on the progress of the war, on the perceived American prejudice against Englishmen, and on the war's effects in Illinois. In his letter of December 1, 1863, he described the New York City draft riots of 1863, during which he was almost fatally shot, and he mentioned the recent hanging of the Lincoln assassination conspirators in his letter of August 8, 1865.