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Colonel Charley's Wife (50)
Harper's Weekly, October 8, 1864

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Synopsis

1863

A sergeant tells the story of how a colonel’s wife saved his company. A Union party, led by the colonel (then a captain), was scouting for Confederates when they were suddenly trapped on the point of a hill. They were protected by a large gully, which kept the Confederates out, but the Union men trapped. The Confederates charged the Union men, who were woefully outnumbered, but their superior position and shooting kept them safe. They know once it got dark, though, the Confederates would be able to sneak up behind them. The captain asked for a volunteer to run back to camp and get help, a very dangerous mission. The first one to volunteer was an unpopular young man, who kept to himself and didn’t seem to have any friends. Though others wanted to go, the captain allowed the young man to go. The captain followed his movements, and although he thought the young man was shot at one point, the young man shot his assailant, and got away. Once the company was safe, the captain learned that the young man was shot in the arm, and also that he was a woman. She had run away from a cruel stepmother after her brother was killed in battle and joined the army. She was already in love with the captain, and soon he learned to love her as well.

Harper's Text

"Colonel Charley’s Wife"
October 8, 1864, page 654 (1-4)

History

"Personal"
August 17, 1861, page 515 (4)

Military Background

Mrs. Major Reynolds
May 17, 1862, page 306 (1)

Illustrations


"Bertha (who wants to go to War…)"
June 8, 1861, page 368


"Filling Cartridges at the United States Arsenal,"
July 20, 1861, page 449


"Scenes About Camp,"
July 20, 1861, page 453

Commentary

"A Suggestion" August 30, 1862, page 547 (2-3)

The Lounger most cordially sympathizes with the suggestion of his correspondent:

"Dear Mr. Lounger, ?Since the war began you have been so serious in your columns that I have not dared to write to you; but I have something to say now, which I think you will listen to.

"The other morning I wanted a few spools of thread and a piece of tape, and put on my bonnet and ran to Haberdasher & Co.’s to get them. It was a warm day and there were not many people in the street, and when I got into the shop I was quite confused by the number of young men who came politely forward and asked to serve me with what I wished. They were not foolish, simpering fellows of whom there are so many pictures and so much fun in Punch; but they seemed to be quick, intelligent, and well-bred.

"I bought my thread and tape, and as I sauntered home, thinking of my brother Ned, who is with Pope in Virginia, I saw upon a pile of bricks a poster headed ‘Recruits wanted.’ Of course we all know that they are wanted. We know how much is left undone for the want of men. Yes, Mr. Lounger, and I know that if women would answer it would be left undone no longer.

"Now we women are as much interested in the war as you men. The Southern women, indeed, are said to be the main-stay of the rebellion, and the Northern women have been the chief solace and cure of our wounded soldiers. How they have worked in every way that women can, to help the great cause! And yet there is one other way. It is this. Let some of us do the work of Haberdasher & Co.’s clerks, and let them go to the war. At the Sanitary Commission rooms, and the hospitals, etc., there are as many women as can be made useful. But I—and I am sure there are plenty like me—would willingly take the places of these young men until they return. We can sell thread and measure ribbon and do up tape, perhaps not as well as they, but well enough for the purpose.

"Of course there are many of them who have mothers and sisters and families dependent upon them who could not easily go. But they ought to remember that business will revive only with peace, and if the war continues they must, many of them, lose their places. Then there are a great many who have nobody but themselves to look after, and they might surely go.

"I write to you, hoping that you will print my letter, and that they may see it. If they do, I hope they will think seriously of what I say. I can not put it in pretty language but it means just the same. It means that I, for one, do not believe that a man hasn’t a soul above buttons merely because he sells them; and I don’t believe that a man can not handle a rifle skillfully because he is nimble with the yard-stick. At least, let’s try, Mr. Lounger.

"Your faithful friend and constant reader,

"Lucy Lamb."

 

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