Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Belated Valentine's Day Posting

Oops! I intended to post this yesterday…

As I cruised through the local Hallmark store the other day purchasing Valentine’s Day candy, it occurred to me that judging from the large display of cards, the prettily wrapped boxes of candy, and the array of knick-knacks for sale that this is certainly a significant Day in our society. It hasn’t always been that way…

Take, for example, a letter written by Harriet Perry to her soldier husband, Theophilus on 14 February 1864. Harriet penned the letter from near Marshall, Texas, and it was sent to Captain Perry, stationed with the 28th Texas Cavalry (dismounted) in Louisiana. Her letter was lengthy and a number of topics were discussed: clothing purchases, visits from friends, financial matters, neighborhood news, etc. In the midst of these newsy comments is this comment rather casually tucked in:

“…I shall send up the note the next time your Father goes. that will pay our Taxes which are to be paid soon[.] You must take this letter for a Valentine as it is written on St. Valentine’s Day—I did not think of it until I began to write—I received three letters from you while in Marshall [crossed out] written on the 18th 21st & 29th of Jan. I am very glad to hear you are getting on so well…” (Johansson, M. Jane, ed., Widows by the Thousand: The Civil War Correspondence of Theophilus and Harriet Perry, 1862-1864, Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2000, p. 209).

This marks one of the few mentions of Valentine’s Day that I have seen in correspondence from the Civil War. If you have any examples, particularly relating to the trans-Mississippi, then please let me know.

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