Love and War

It is not often that we highlight fun and possibly frivolous letters on this blog, but with Valentines Day being right around the corner, we figured it would be appropriate to highlight a couple of letters William Henry Grady wrote to his sister in which he mentions Valentine’s Day.

William Henry Grady (1841-1921) was the son of a Duplin County Farmer, Sherwood Grady of “Waterloo” near Albertson, N.C. and his wife Harriett Jackson. Grady Volunteered for six month service in Company C, 2nd North Carolina Volunteers. He served until November 18, 1861, when his company disbanded and his regiment re-designated the 12th Regiment, North Carolina Infantry. On March 17, 1862, Grady enlisted for a second time, this time in Company C, 51st Regiment, North Carolina Infantry. He remained with his regiment until paroled at Greensboro, N.C., on April 29, 1865.

On February 21, 1864, William Grady wrote his sister that he had nothing that would “prove interesting” to write about but would “attempt to drop a few lines.” He writes about the weather in Petersburg, where he is stationed, and asks about friends back home.  What caught my eye was that he mentions a valentine that a girl received from someone in his regiment. “Tell Margaret Ann I would like to see that Valentines she got from my Reg.”

William again brings up the topic of Valentines to his sister in a letter of March 29, 1864. “Tell Hessey she must not thank me for favors that I have not done for her. She is mistaken I do know why she harbored the opinion that I sent her a Valentine but since she accused me of such I wish that it was true.” He also tells his sister that a friend Margaret, maybe the same as mentioned on February 21st had “caused her old Friend to go blind with a Valentine.” He then states “I shall never correspond with her!” The poor girl must have had poor handwriting skills. William also tells his sister that he has sent home a message for a girl named Dalia, whom he wants not to get married before she hears from him, and if “she does not comply with my order I shall be compeld [sic] to enforce the severest penalty of the law of matrimony against her + employ Cupid as my attorney.” Might he have certain attentions toward Dalia?

As I said this first Wednesday post is a bit light and frivolous, but not all correspondence is full of pertinent information dealing with the war, and I though it good to see that the young men and women of the time still harbored a fun and silly side. I hope you take the time to read these fun letters William writes his sister, even though not full of important information about certain battles or other war related information they do give insight into the relationships of friends and family. Enjoy and Happy Valentine’s Day!

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