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Thursday, April 8, 2010

These two ads, as you see, were right next to each other, and I thought they were both so charming that I'd just put them up together:

Heart for sale - Who'll bid. Address for one week with carte de visite, Clara Montalban, station G. Broadway.

Two young men - serving in the United States army, want to open a correspondence with two young ladies of good principles and honest hearts, with a view to matrimony; age from sixteen to twenty. For further particulars address Charles Morgan and William Miles, United States Iron clad steamer Passale, off Charleston, South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.

How cute is that first one? I don't know how many responses Clara would get given that she doesn't give her age or describe herself in any way, but a young romantic guy might find it as sweet and winsome as I do and respond just to find out more. Funny how an ad that suggests love is for sale, literally, can actually be so adorable. But it's a clever way to send a message that you've got a sense of humor and a sense of romance when you can't afford to spend any money writing a lengthier ad to describe yourself.

The second ad is a more typical Civil War era matrimonial. I'd try to hook up Clara with one of them, but I'd feel bad for the other guy who got left out in the cold. But who knows? Maybe one of them saw her note - they did want women with an honest hearts - and responded anyway. I looked up the Ironclad Passale and didn't find much, but its purpose is pretty straightforward. Anyone who has read or seen Gone With the Wind might recall that for awhile Rhett Butler was a blockade runner, and had he been a real person, it was Charles and William who he was trying to run through. Blockades, of course, were ships that surrounded all the Southern harbors during the Civil War (and of course used in wars all over and throughout history) which prevented the Southern states from importing any goods. Since the South produced very, very little of anything besides, well, cotton (okay, a couple other things too), they had to get most everything from Northern smugglers or abroad. Successful blockades were devastating.

Anyway, enough history lessons. I just find the Civil War so fascinating, and once I started finding these matrimonials from soldiers it's like the men in the war started coming alive for me. There are hundreds, thousands even, of diaries and letters remaining from that era but these little tidbits of otherwise anonymous men are something else entirely.

Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!

©2010 Pam Epstein


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