Friday, February 19, 2010
Most of the Civil War soldiers I've blogged about have been in perfect health (or at least so they claimed), but the truth is that a pretty large percentage of men were seriously injured at one point or another. So it's really, really intriguing to finally run across a soldier's ad which reflects the reality of how the war affected men on a very personal level:
In consequence of a gunshot wound (received while in the service of his country) which deprived the advertiser of one of those charms considered as indispensable to a loving union, he takes this means - although repugnant to his tastes - to invite correspondence that may lead to a matrimonial connection. Although deprived of (what some would call) facial beauty, he possesses a well adorned mind, cultivated tastes, amiability of temper, health and youth (if 28 years can be so called). To place him above all danger of dependence, he is in receipt of an ample income amply sufficient for a comfortable, if not luxurious, family of ordinary numbers. Proposals can be addressed to Capt. George Young, Company G, Ninth regiment, N.Y.S.M., via Washington, D.C. All communications treated with honor, and returned if desired. Cartes de visite can be enclosed, and returned if desired. The advertiser will shortly visit New York (his native city), but no interview can take place until the advertiser is fully assured of the honorable intention of his correspondent, and has in his turn convinced her of his sincerity and affluence.
Okay, first of all, admit it: when you saw the line about how the advertiser was deprived "of one of those charms considered as indispensable to a loving union," you weren't thinking of facial beauty. You were? Really? So I'm the only one whose mind went a little further, er, south? Alrighty then, moving on!
I feel incredible sympathy for this guy. He went to war to fight for his country, and it left him maimed. But he's pretty bitter, and this hardly seems like the right way to handle your anger - especially if you're trying to find a wife. Even if I was the most patriotic woman in the world, and wanted to marry a soldier, I'd think twice (or three times!) about answering this - not because of the scar, but because I'd be wondering if his temper is as amiable as he claims.
My theory: while he was stationed near Washington, DC, he had some leave time and went out on the town (since he was an officer, this is likely) with some friends. High society threw lots of balls and so-forth, and officers all got invited, so George got to go along. But while all the young ladies were swooning over his fellow officers, he was left out in the cold because of his terrible facial scar. You know, I suppose that is enough to make a man feel legitimately hurt. He probably figured he made a bigger sacrifice than most of the men there (those that were still alive, this ad being written approximately halfway through the war), yet the ladies shunned him.
Still, saying in your ad that you find using matrimonials repugnant isn't necessarily the best route. I know what he is trying to say is that he considers himself a true gentleman and would never resort to such means if not entirely necessary. But if you find matrimonials so repugnant, what are you going to think of the women who answer them? Now, let's face it, by this time the death toll was so high that most women had to be aware that if they wanted to get married they couldn't be too picky. So maybe a lot of women who found personals "repugnant" would also be more inclined to answer one. But it's one thing to marry a guy with a big scar on his face and another to marry someone who has frankly said that he finds the method of meeting his wife disgusting.
And you know George, I do truly sympathize with how awful it must be to be so dreadfully maimed - maybe he was really handsome before. I'd be miserable too. Really, really miserable. But let's have some perspective here. You (apparently) didn't lose any vital limbs, so you have the use of both arms and legs, and you're not dead, which is saying something. It sucks, I hear you, I do. But try to be thankful for what you've got.
Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!
©2010 Pam Epstein