Valentines Day Letter 1862: 8th Georgia Infantry (No cupids, billing doves, garlands of flowers, or tinselled papers.)

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lelliott19

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....deep felt protestations of affection may this day be written by the soldier boys, to their fair enamoreds, far away, but they will not be upon fancy tinselled paper, with cupids, billing doves and garlands of flowers pictured all around and upon the margins, but upon plain, course paper "thoughts that breathe, and words that burn" will be inscribed - coming from the heart, and much more likely to go to the heart, than the sparkling effervescence of poetic fancies, so common in this class of epistles...

Melvin Dwinell was a born-and-bred New Englander; a Yankee turned rebel; a journalist turned soldier; a philosopher and a fighter. A native of Washington County, Vermont, born 9 July 1825, Dwinell graduated from the University of Vermont and moved South to seek a teaching position. By 1855, he purchased the Rome Courier, a small-town newspaper in Rome, Georgia, and served as its owner/editor.

When the war broke out, Dwinell helped to organize the Rome Light Guards which became Company A, 8th Georgia Infantry. He was elected Lieutenant and, although his regiment suffered heavy casualties at the Battle of First Manassas, Dwinell escaped unharmed. Afterwards, he wrote his family in Vermont: It would be as easy for Abe Lincoln to reduce the White Mountains to the level of the ocean as to conquer these states and then it would do him quite as much good when accomplished.

As one of few scholars in the 8th Georgia, Dwinell sent regular correspondence back to the Rome Courier - over 200 letters - until he was wounded in the left arm at Gettysburg. His correspondence kept the people of Rome informed on the movements and condition of the regiment. Dwinell was fond of injecting fiery rhetoric whenever the opportunity arose. After returning to duty from his Gettysburg wound, Dwinell was soon elected to the State Legislature and submitted his resignation October 22, 1863 at Chattanooga, TN. Here is his take on Valentines Day 1862:

CAMP SAM JONES, NEAR CENTREVILLE VA.
February 14, 1862​
DEAR COURIER: This is Valentine's Day, but precious few tricks of love are likely to be played off, either by or on the soldiers, in this division of the army. It is not improbable that some, perhaps many, deep felt protestations of affection may this day be written by the soldier boys, to their fair enamoreds, far away, but they will not be upon fancy tinselled paper, with cupids, billing doves and garlands of flowers pictured all around and upon the margins, but upon plain, course paper "thoughts that breathe, and words that burn" will be inscribed - coming from the heart, and much more likely to go to the heart, than the sparkling effervescence of poetic fancies, so common in this class of epistles.​
The hardships, privations and dangers of a campaign, some how, have a tendency to make men earnest minded and practical, and they come to despise the frivolities of the "weak, piping times of peace." Some -- and it is to be feared that this class will include a number of the youths -- the buds of hope and promise of the land -- will be by indulgence in the peculiar vices of camp life, not improved, nor yet, probably much worsted in their character and habits; for if they are disposed to dissipation, their opportunities would have been far greater for indulgence, at home than in the army. But others -- all those who maintain strict habits of mental and moral purity and physical abstemiousness will come out from this fiery ordeal purified and strengthened, and with greatly enhanced abilities for usefulness in the world. War is not an unmitigated evil; if it accomplishes no other good, it at least makes despicable the almost universal worship of Mammon, awakening higher aspirations and developing some of the noblest virtues of humanity. <end of excerpt; entire article below>​
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Rome Tri-Weekly Courier. (Rome, Ga.), February 27, 1862, page 2.
 
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DBF

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The New England Historical Society has some great exchanges between Melvin Dwinell with The Burlington Free Press and his various family members. The site opens with this gem:

“In May of 1861, Melvin Dwinell let loose a typical broadside at the North in his Rome, Georgia Courier newspaper under the headline: How to Take Old Lincoln — A Rich Idea.
A friend of ours proposes, that, if allowed by their masters and authorities to do it, he will raise an army of slaves and take Washington City and Abe Lincoln prisoner in less than thirty days. Wouldn’t it be fun for the colored boys to “trot him out,” and they would do it, if they had half a chance.

The only odd thing about the trash talking was it didn’t come from a southerner. Melvin Dwinell was a born and bred New Englander who hailed from a southerner. Melvin Dwinell was a born and bred New Englander who hailed from Vermont, the state that actually banned slavery in its first Constitution.”

This notation shows how much his love and loyalty was to the south:

“If I should meet any of my relatives on the battle field in Lincoln’s army they will there be considered as my enemies and treated as such. My whole heart is with the South.”


It appears he came back home to be buried in Fairview Cemetery in East Calais. Thanks for posting his Valentine’s greeting - I can’t find any evidence that he ever married.

https://www.newenglandhistoricalsociety.com/melvin-dwinell-vermonter-wanted-kidnap-abraham-lincoln/
 

Cavalry Charger

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.deep felt protestations of affection may this day be written by the soldier boys, to their fair enamoreds, far away, but they will not be upon fancy tinselled paper, with cupids, billing doves and garlands of flowers pictured all around and upon the margins, but upon plain, course paper "thoughts that breathe, and words that burn" will be inscribed - coming from the heart, and much more likely to go to the heart, than the sparkling effervescence of poetic fancies, so common in this class of epistles...
Some of these phrases are like precious gems ... I just want to snatch them out of the paragraph and keep them like hidden treasure.
 
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lelliott19

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t appears he came back home to be buried in Fairview Cemetery in East Calais. Thanks for posting his Valentine’s greeting - I can’t find any evidence that he ever married.
Thanks for adding this additional info @DBF
Some of these phrases are like precious gems ... I just want to snatch them out of their paragraph and keep them like hidden treasure.
Isn't that the truth!?!?!??! @alan polk has mentioned the art of sentence structure before - lets see what he has to say about Dwinell's. What say you alan?

All the letters Dwinell wrote back to his Rome Courier ---or at least as many as the researcher was able to find --- have been published as a book. Dear Courier: The Civil War Correspondence of Editor Melvin Dwinell edited by Ford Risley. It's a nice hardback and at $40 it seems like a real bargain. I'm thinking of ordering it just for that purpose - snatching those phrases out and keeping them. :D
 
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Cavalry Charger

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Melvin Dwinell was a born-and-bred New Englander; a Yankee turned rebel; a journalist turned soldier; a philosopher and a fighter. A native of Washington County, Vermont, born 9 July 1825, Dwinell graduated from the University of Vermont and moved South to seek a teaching position. By 1855, he purchased the Rome Courier, a small-town newspaper in Rome, Georgia, and served as its owner/editor.
The only odd thing about the trash talking was it didn’t come from a southerner. Melvin Dwinell was a born and bred New Englander who hailed from a southerner. Melvin Dwinell was a born and bred New Englander who hailed from Vermont, the state that actually banned slavery in its first Constitution.”
He really is a very interesting guy.
 

NH Civil War Gal

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I wonder, if he never married, why he was buried back in Vermont, if he felt that way about his home state and family? East Calais is way out there so I was a bit surprised to see that.
 

lelliott19

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I wonder, if he never married, why he was buried back in Vermont, if he felt that way about his home state and family? East Calais is way out there so I was a bit surprised to see that.
Im thinking he didnt really have anything against his home state or his family, just committed to Georgia and the South in the war. I know its hard to understand how that could be true, but Ive read a lot of stuff written by native southerners that's pretty convoluted too. Motivation of the individual is often not as cut and dried as we assume.

By the way, oh boy, here's a definition I could have gone all night without looking up. :nah disagree:

What are "billing doves" ? I figured it probably wasn't some doves sitting around sending out invoices. :giggle:

Turns out "billing" is a specific act between a pair of doves, which commences around mating time. Preening around the bill will soon become "billing" where the two doves nibble each other's bill. Eventually, the female entices the male to open his bill to allow her to insert her bill deep into his throat. Mating usually follows billing. 😳
 
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