Wanted—Correspondence: Women’s Letters to a Union Soldier  by Nancy L. Rhoades and Lucy E. Bailey

If boys don’t come back  soon the girls will be obliged to take widowers, lame men, or any kind they can get, fir [sic] you know it won’t pay to be an old maid, you know how cross they are.” -Sophronia Warren Rogers 5 November 1862 letter to Edwin Lewis Lybarger

Wanted highlights the letters between Edwin Lewis Lybarger and the women who answered his advertisement requesting correspondence during his Civil War service. Lybarger kept many of the letters he received and they were later discovered by his granddaughter, Lucy E. Bailey. Nancy L. Rhoades uses the letters as a glimpse of the homefront as women supported war efforts but mostly lived normal lives. One interesting social aspect discussed is the practice of sharing photographs. Photographs were a new phenomenon. It was thought a photograph captured a bit of someone’s soul. Therefore some considered the giving of one’s photograph a very intimate gesture. Lybarger shared his photograph with some of his correspondents and requested a return photograph as well. Some women complied, some considered that too personal.  

Wanted is a very interesting look into the social aspects of the Civil War, particularly how it affected women.

The book contains analysis, 168 letters, and a biographical sketch of Edwin Lewis Lybarger.


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