Valentine’s card sent during
the Civil War.

Looking ahead to the “romantic holiday” known as Valentine’s Day, I though I’d share this heart-warming story of a hand-made valentine that a Confederate soldier sent to his wife during the Civil War. It is one of the 25,000 Civil War artifacts collected to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the war that began in 1861.

Unfortunately, momentos like this one have been gathering dust in attics and basements all across the country, but now many states are calling on descendants to allow archivists to scan these heirlooms and share them with the world.

The heart valentine was created by soldier Robert King while serving on the front lines. He used his penknife to cut one sheet of a newspaper and a used envelope together, intertwining the two in a basket weave pattern.

After finishing, he folded it and sent the memento to his wife Louiza in Montgomery County, Va. When folded, it was about 4 square inches and looked like a woven heart.

Robert King’s wife, Louiza.

Once in her hand, Louiza could then open the heart and find that the seemingly random dotted holes were actually intentional so that the valentine turned into the shape of two people sitting opposite one another, crying.

The memento ended up being a bittersweet token of his affection, because King died in battle and never saw his wife or their child again.

It is stories like this one–and hopefully historical fiction novels like Noble Cause–that show the emotional toll of the war.

To help commemorate Valentine’s Day, I’m giving away copies of my e-book From the Heart: Love Letters and Stories from the Civil War. All you have to do is follow this blog and shoot me an email or leave a comment with your email address between now and Feb. 24.

Hope everyone has a very happy Valentine’s Day!

Jessica James


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