Civil War Formed Culture of Letter Writing

Envelope for stationary packet, “Torch of Love,” George W. Fisher Bookseller and Stationer, Rochester, New York. (Image courtesy of the National Museum of American History.)

Sarepta Revis was a 17-year-old newlywed when her husband left their North Carolina home to fight in the Confederate States Army. Neither had much schooling, and writing did not come easily to them. Still, they exchanged letters with some regularity, telling each other how they were doing, expressing their love and longing. Once, after Daniel had been away for more than six months, Sarepta told him in a letter that she was “as fat as a pig.” This may not seem like the way most young women would want to describe themselves, but Daniel was very happy to hear it.

Civil War soldiers and their families had abundant causes for worry. The men were exposed to rampant disease as well as the perils of the battlefield. Women, running households without help, often faced overwork and hunger. Letters bore the burdens not just of keeping in touch and expressing affection but also of assuaging fear about loved ones’ well-being. Yet most ordinary American families, never having endured a long separation until now, had little experience writing …

Read more at Southern Partisan Online
(The opinions in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Southern Nation News or SN.O.)

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