Letters to Sweethearts

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!

Cavalry Charger

Forum Host
Silver Patron
Jan 24, 2017

"A substantial portion of the letters written in camp were addressed to sweethearts who in camp parlance were known by such unflattering nicknames as 'pigeon', 'pig', 'duck', 'biddy' 'jularky' and 'hoosey dooksy'. Correspondence between soliders and the girls they left behind them was frequently formal and stilted, though now and then an established suitor would hazard the use of an endearing phrase. Despite the restrained tone dictated by usage at the time, a goodly number of Yanks were able, with the assistance of a timely furlough, subtle prodding by the girl and perchance a show of paternal opposition, to push their cases from a casual to a permanent basis.

Romantically inclined Yanks, like their opposites in gray, found poetry a convenient and effective agent in conveying the gentler sentiments, for poetry had the priceless quality of saying much or little, as the recipient chose; moreover, the ability to make verses was considered a mark of gallantry.

The most confirmed sentimental-verse addict encountered by the writer was Albert E. Trumble of the fifteenth Illinois Regiement. Trumble's poetic flow, written in neat script and addressed to Amelia Boyce, began shortly after he joined the army and continued throught his service. The first lines, sent as a postscript, were:

My pen is poor
My ink is pale
My love to you
As long as a rail
As acquaintance ripened, Trumble waxed bolder in both his prose and poetry. From Bolivar, Tennessee, in august 1862 he penned the following:

Though waters may between us roll,
May friendship still unite our soul,
Though far distant may be our lot,
Dearest friend forget me not.
The next spring he wrote from Memphis:

When the waning moon beams sleep
At midnight on the lovely sea
And nature's pensive spirits weep
In all her dews remember me
do it Amelia
And in August 1864, while campaigning in Georgia, he wrote as a postscript:

Way down here clear out of sight;
Three little words I wish to write
Forget me not
Trumble's capture a little later, followed by a long imprisonment, interrupted his poetic effusion. But after the war he renewed courtship of Amelia and apparently married her.

Many Yanks advertised for feminine correspondence in the newspapers, but the tone of some of these notices is such as to suggest that they were inserted by pranksters."

Bell Irvin Wiley - The Life of Billy Yank.

Trumble's poetry definitely improved over the years and long absence, but 'do it Amelia ' seems a little too emboldened to me :laugh:

Glad their story had a happy ending.

As to advertising for 'feminine correspondence', I'm guessing some of the guys would have a whale of a time pranking others with that one!

Anyway, just a few thoughts for this Valentine's Day :inlove:
Last edited:


First Sergeant
Aug 6, 2016
I had posted this somewhere on this site a while back - but since it’s Valentine’s Day - I thought I would post it again. It’s a beautiful poem written by CSA General John Brown Gordon to his wife Rebecca (Fanny) Haralson. Married 7 years before the Civil War she was known as always being close to the battlefield (and at times maybe a little “too” close). After he was wounded in 1862, she nursed him for 7 months, until he was able to return to the war, and in 1864, she pleaded with Confederate soldiers as they fled the field of battle, leaving a horrified Gordon “to find her in the street with shells and balls flying about her”. He penned this poem for their 37th wedding anniversary and her fifty-fourth birthday:

The day of days I now remember,
The sweetest far was in September.
When woods and fields and star-lit skies,
and mellow suns and Autumn’s sighs,

Made earth so fair and life so sweet;
as Heaven bowed this world to greet,
And threw its sheen o’er nature’s face
and clasped all things in Love’s embrace.

’Twas natal day to fair young bride;
’Twas natal day to new-borne pride
In him, whose life and hope and care,
This fair young bride henceforth must share.

So young she was, so winsome, coy,
So lithe her form, so pure her joy,
So rare her grace, so e’er discreet,
So trusting, true, so fair and sweet;

That happy man e’er won for wife,
To lift his aims and brighten life,
More helpful hand or mind, I ween,
Than this sweet girl of seventeen.

Though birthdays come and years pass by,
Though clouds may dim September’s sky,
Though threads of gray may streak thy hair,
and roses fade from cheeks so fair;

Still Beauty’s seal is on thy brow,
No brighter, nobler, then as now,
My love’s still warm as ’twas when you -
Were seventeen, I twenty-two.

:inlove: They would be married for 50 years. :inlove:

Happy Valentine’s Day!!
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Feb 14, 2012
Central Pennsylvania
So this is dreadful- unsure Albert Trumble married her! He was only 15 when enlisting, must have lied about his age. Maybe he did marry Amelia and lost her early- he keeps getting listed as single in census. 1889 and 1890 he's single, a boarder in 1900. May be missing something- like misspelled names on census lists. If Amelia did not marry him, bet whomever she did marry never wrote her poems as wonderful as Albert's.

Albert E TrumbleRank: PrivateCompany: CUnit: 14th/15th Illinois Infantry Veterans BattalionHeight: 5' 7Hair: BROWNEyes: HAZELComplexion: LIGHTMarital status: SingleOccupation: FarmerBirth Date: Abt 1843Birth Place: Kane CO, ILWar: Civil WarWar Years: 1861-1865Service Entry Age: 20Service Entry Date: 16 Dec 1863Service Entry Place: Cowan, MSJoined By Whom: CPT SMITHPeriod: 3 YRSMuster In Date: 25 Dec 1863Muster In Place: Cowan, MSRemarks: TRANS AS CO C 15 ILL INF AS REVIVED PER SPECIAL FIELD ORDER NO 103 HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF TENN APR 28, 1865Residence Place: Marengo, McHenry CO, ILRecord Source: Illinois Civil War Muster and Descriptive Rolls

These are lovely, thanks for posting them! Thread around here somewhere on ' wife wanted ' ads, soldiers advertising for girls to write to them.
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!

Cavalry Charger

Forum Host
Silver Patron
Jan 24, 2017
So this is dreadful- unsure Albert Trumble married her!
:eek: Not sure how Bell Irvin Wiley conducted his research, but there's an 'apparently' in there so maybe he wasn't so sure either!

It's nice to gain insights into how the boys approached the girls in courting them. Poetry seems to have been a popular measure, and I think Wiley mentioned it was also considered to be quite 'gallant'. Wonder how boys these days profess their love and show their romantic side? Times have changed so much. But maybe not that much :D

I think I've seen the thread you mention JPK with wife wanted ads, and I'm sure the same goes for soldiers advertising for girls to write to them ... the fun some fellas would have had with that in pranking their mates :laugh:

BTW, thanks for digging deep on Trumble. I'm glad he survived the war, and there's more confusing information there about when he joined up which seems to be 1863 and puts him out of the timeline for when he was writing his poetry to court Miss Amelia :confused:

At least we know he existed, was in love with a girl called Amelia, and have now given their courtship a timely shout out for Valentine's Day :inlove:
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!