February 14–a day set aside to celebrate one’s romantic side–often comes under attack as being invented by card companies just for profit. I disagree. I have written here at least one other time about the celebration of this holiday during the 1860s, and I continue to think of it as a time for a soldier to think about something other than war for at least a few hours. Not that that is all they were thinking about, but that is fodder for another post.
I have a particular fondness for the fussy old valentines from Germany with lace, blue birds, and foldout parts. I buy them on eBay and give them to my friends, who pretend to be delighted. I have been following one valentine–specifically Civil War–in particular for several years in eBay’s virtual pages–it is very unusual.
The experience begins with an image of folds of the Union flag covering up a small army tent. There is a message below the tent, but I cannot find am image that I can manage to read–they all pixilate into nonsense. The best I can do is:
My heart’s not lightened,
In hours of glee.
My thoughts are brightened,
When thinking of thee.
There seem to be a couple of versions, all touting such romantic sentiments.
A truly unique thing happens when the paper “tent flaps” are pulled back. Inside the tent is a Union “officer,” let us assume. He is sitting at his little camp desk, writing, assuming again, a letter to his beloved, whom he is missing terribly. His few possessions are carefully packed and placed to the right side, and his rifle stands to his left. His expression is one of melancholy rather than grief, and hovering above and behind him is the ethereal image of his sweetheart. This small card is a truly unique (although not one-of-a kind) valentine, and very much an evocation of the American Civil War.
I have been looking at this item for several years, as I said, and this year I decided to do a post on it, using images from the eBay site to illustrate its uniqueness. I checked last month, and it was still there–at its usual price tag of–wait for it–$1,000! That price is the only reason I do not own this item, and I have wavered more than a few times, I will admit.
Imagine my surprise when I sat down to write this post a few days before the 14th of February–and the item had gone missing. Not there. Not to be found. No matter what words or phrases I used to guide my search, it never showed up. I can only assume that either the owner has withdrawn it from the site or . . . someone bought it!!!!! Someone not me. Someone with more money than sense, and less sense than romance. Ah! My heart actually felt a pang for my missing valentine, and I hope that–if purchased–it has gone to a loving home. I was hoping you would all go to the listing for it and look, but alas, this will not happen.
What will happen is that historians, re-enactors, museums, and the Shiloh National Military Park will find ways to not only celebrate the day itself, but also do so with a nod to the past. Let us not forget the lovelorn Yankees and Rebels, nor the lonely women and families who sent them forth to battle with, I am sure, a combination of love and recriminations. Probably more love. Leave the recriminations for the politicians who demanded the whole dang deal in the first place.
Happy Valentine’s day from Emerging Civil War.