Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Civil War "Marrying Craze"

Esther Alden expressed the attitude of many young women in the South as the war progressed, “One looks at a man so differently when you think he may be killed tomorrow. Men whom up to this time I had thought dull and commonplace . . . seemed charming.” The famous diarist, Mary Chestnut of South Carolina, was appalled when she saw women of her own class flirting openly with strangers in public.  The diaries of hundreds of women of the time attest to the “marrying craze” sweeping the South.  “Every girl in Richmond is engaged or about to be”, wrote Phoebe Pember Yates in February 1864.  Fear of spinsterhood and natural desire heightened by the immediacy of war led to many unconventional matches, many reflecting the truth of a phrase common to the time, “The blockade don’t keep out babies.”  

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