An image from Godey’s Lady’s Book, 1863 (no known restrictions)
Emerging Civil War welcomes back guest author Rob Wilson
With mid-February approaching, I went hunting for a North-South romance story to share on Valentine’s Day. In his well-researched study of Northern troops, The Life of Billy Yank: The Common Soldier of the Union, Bell Irwin Wiley writes that wartime encounters between Federal soldiers and Southern women occurred, some ripening into romances, and even post-war marriages. There were stories out there. But where to look?
The first stop in my search was close to home. While researching a file of my Yankee great grandfather’s war letters for a different story, I’d noted that he’d written about a series of his visits with a group of unmarried women living in Sharpsburg, Maryland. All three, George A, Marden reported, were of “Secession proclivities,” one a Virginian with two brothers fighting in the service of Jeff Davis. My ancestor was single and a 23-year-old lieutenant at the time, late in October, 1862. His regiment, the Army of the Potomac’s 1st United States Sharpshooters (U.S.S.S.) Regiment, was camped near the town. I sat down for a close read of his October correspondence, hoping for a story worthy of St. Valentine. Continue reading