As is the habit of many young ladies, I have spent hours daydreaming of the man that I would marry. What would he look like? How would he propose? So many questions unanswered. When I joined the reenacting hobby, I came across many sources of young couples affected by the war. This research has fascinated me, to say the least!
The problems that these couples experienced were not unlike my own. Many were concerned about their significant other finding someone else. Green Berry Samuels, a Virginian, wrote to his future wife Kathleen Boone in April 1861; “Dont be so cruel as to fall in love with some of the nice young men about F. Royal whilst I am gone away to fight the battles of Va.” Would I be plagued by a beau who would be unfaithful?
Other concerns were of injury from the war. I found this story as well, about a man who lost a leg and suffered a facial wound. “He told Beers about his engagement to “one of the prettiest … girls in ‘Massissip’” and asked her to write a letter telling the young woman about his wounds. Beers eased the wounded man’s worries that he would have to “let her off” by relating “instances of women who only loved more because the object of their affection had been unfortunate.” She later regretted nurturing his hopes, for it was her “misfortune to read to him a very cold letter from his lady-love, who declined to marry ‘a cripple.’” Will my beau care about me, even if I am not perfect?
Finally, I have wondered about the truth of his words. William F. Testerman to Miss Jane Davis: “The thought of your sweet smiles is all the company I have. I trust that you are sincere in what you have wrote to me.” Will my beau be honest and true to his word?
Fortunately, I no longer have to wait. My dear beau proposed to me as we visited our Alma matter, the University of Michigan. No longer must I wait to answer all of these questions. It turns out he is wonderful!
Certainly there is no such thing as perfection. We will still argue and disagree about our favorite zombie defense methods or the best way to load a dishwasher. Yet at that end of the day, we know that we belong to each other, and there is no other person I'd have by my aside (though we've agreed that my dog Rambo can be there too).
Thank you all for sharing our joy!
Cumming Journal of Hospital Life. :117.Beers Fannie A. Memories: A Record of Personal Experience and Adventure during Four Years of War. Philadelphia: 1889. pp. 205–6
Carrie Esther Samuels Spencer, editor. A Civil War Marriage in Virginia: Reminiscences and Letters. Boyce, Va.: 1956. Green Berry Samuels to Kathleen Boone Samuels, April 24, 1861, and May 6, 1861; p. 82.p. 88