"My Precious Loulie...":
Love letters of the Civil War--Dear Hattie
"Could you have been within hearing distance when I read you letter, you would have heard a laugh that made this old tent ring, especially when I came to the sentence, "Sing Heigh Ho for a husband"..."
Camp of the 11th NY Battery.
Feby 9th 1864
Pardon the affectionate familiarity but you know its all in fun. Your charming little epistle has just reached me, and I do myself the honor to answer it immediately, thus complying with your request to write soon.
Before proceeding farther truth and candor compel me to acknowledge that a little desception was used in the advertisement in the "Waverly." In other words my true description differs materially from the one therein set forth, and may not please you as well as the one "fancy painted," but I thought it was all for fun, therefore funningly gave a fictitious description as well as cognomen. Be it known unto you then, this individual is twenty-nine years of age, five feet and eleven inches high, dark blue eyes, brown hair, and light (ruddy) complexion. There you have it. How do you like the descripion? Me thinks I hear you answer. I dont like it so well as the advertised description. Well! I'll admit it is not quite so fascinating to a young lady as the fictitious one, but it is a fixed fact, "like the laws of the Medes and Persians," which altereth not. But enough of that topic for the present! The next thing, will undoubtedly be something else.
It is said, that a person's writing is indication of their character, if so, judging from your letter, I take you to be of one that class know as "romps" - a class by the way, which I rather admire. Commend me to a girl who has life and animation enough to enjoy the harmless pleasures of this beautiful world, in preference to your "Miss Prim," who would not dare to laugh in louder tones than a whimpering sentimental snicker, for fear of overstepping the bounds of etiquette.
No indeed! None of your "Miss Prims" for me. I love the gaily ringing laugh of true and gladsome hearts. Of course I would not have a young lady act in an imbecoming or unladylike manner, but I believe in giving free scope to thou joyous feelings, implanted in the soul by a wise and kind "creator" to cheer us through life's checkered pathway looking over the -----. Could you have been within hearing distance when I read you letter, you would have heard a laugh that made this old tent ring, especially when I came to the sentence, "Sing Heigh Ho for a husband" - I just laid back in my chair + roared - thats decidedly rich! I don't suppose that you entertain thoughts of Matrimony. Who ever knows a young lady that did? but if so you have my best wishes that your song may be speedily answered, on condition, that I have an invitation to the wedding.
You say you have returned from boarding school for a few months on account of delicate health. No doubt it is great treat for you, to again be, with the loved ones at home. I do not wonder at your hating boarding school, for as generally conducted they are about as injurious to girls health, as beneficial to her education. I firmly believe that hundreds of girls die annually from the pernicious effects of boarding school training. I presume the description given of yourself is partly fictitious. I aught not to doubt a lady word, but am aware that in correspondence of this character a great deal of description is generally used.
I promised on the honor of a gentleman and soldier that I have thus far given a true description of myself, it remains for me to add that I was formerly a private, but am now a Lieut in Uncle Samuel's service and that my true name is signed to this letter. Enclosed please find carte-de-visites of your incognito, when you answer this which I hope you will do without fail - be kind enough to give a correct description and enclose a carte-de-visite, or Photograph, of your own sweet self.
The enclosed picture is not as good as it might be - they eyes are too light, the features however and general expression of the countenance are natural.
You ask for a description of "camp life," but I have written so much other stuff I will defer that until another time, suffice it to say the "Blue Jackets" are pretty comfortably situated - for soldiers - in winter quarters, where they will probably remain until the time comes for then sally forth to me - the traitorous "grey back" in battle array. When that time shall
[The letter ends abruptly and without a signature. This perhaps was continued on another page.]
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Gail McMillan, Director, Digital Library and Archives