Monday, February 2, 2009

Words from the heart during the Civil War

I couldn't let Valentine's Day approach and not write something on the art of letter writing, which was so important during the Civil War.

Eloquently written love letters were part of Victorian era courtship and continued through a couple’s marriage. Today, no form of communication is more important, more romantic – and more in danger of being lost – than the written word. In a time when text-messaging rules, you may not feel up to writing a full blown love letter to your dearest – but you can certainly write a heartfelt note that your sweetheart will find when he or she least expects it.

I 'll even give you an example of a beautifully written love letter to make finding just the right words a little easier:

Now, I go; but remember always that I love you with all my heart and soul, with every fiber of my being; that now and forever I am yours – yours, my beloved. It is almost three o’clock. My soul reaches out to yours – my prayers. I’ll keep up a skookum tumtum [Chinook for strong heart] for Virginia and for you, my darling.
- Your Soldier
July 3, 1863 Gettysburg

Note: This was written by Confederate General George Pickett to his wife. You may recognize the date—the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg, and the time—shortly before his ill-fated Pickett’s Charge. The artillery bombardment, the largest in North American history, began at 1 p.m. and was still taking place as he wrote. Now if he can find time to write a love letter to his wife, what’s your excuse?

The Contest

In honor of the 'Month of Love,' I've decided to give away a signed copy of my historical fiction novel Shades of Gray, which, for those who are not familiar, is an epic love story that takes place during the War Between the States.

All you have to do to be entered is send me the title and author of your favorite romantic or poignant love story, so that I can list them in a future post (and, no doubt, put them on my TBR list). The winner will be chosen on Feb. 14 so enter today! (writefromthepast (at) Please put CONTEST in the subject line.


TheWritersPorch said...

There is nothing more interesting than reading letters from long ago.
I wrote a short story in 1996 about the " lost Art" of letter writing.

Margay said...

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig is a good one.


Jessica James said...

Oh, no - never heard of that one. Will have to look it up! Thanks, Margay.

Cheryl said...

Ah, love letters. I think I have the few I've received tucked away in my hope chest.

This is a wonderful contest idea. Since I have a copy of your wonderful book, I won't enter, but I wanted to stop by and offer my support, and also let your readers know that "Shades of Gray" is destined to become a classic. I love this book from beginning to end, and I am so glad that I asked to review it.

All my best,


MJ said...

I'd have to pick The Notebook just because I read it at a time in my life(marriage) that I really need it!
I hope I win a copy of your book@

Jessica James said...

Oh, that's a good one. Thank's MJ!

And I quote...

"[L]et us make a vow to our dead. Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for. Strengthened by their courage, heartened by their valor, and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died."
--Ronald Reagan at Pointe du Hoc, 1984