"Listen Ladies One and All":
Union Soldiers Yearn for the
Society of Their "Fair Cousins
of the North"
Patricia L. Richard
TUCKED IN between two advertisements, one for a milk maid and one placed by a nanny seeking employment, was a correspondence request sent by "M. Debray and Monte Cristo," soldiers stationed in Nashville, Tennessee. "Wanted—Two Young Gents, who sport brass coats and blue buttons wish to correspond with a couple of young, handsome and respectable ladies, with a view to fun, love or matrimony."1 The soldiers paid for the Chicago Tribune ad by sending a "greenback" with their request. The payment ensured the advertisement ran from April 27 to April 31, 1863. The unique mode of communication spread among the soldiers, and by the end of May, the newspaper had published more than thirty soldiers' advertisements for correspondence. This phenomenon repeated itself in several northern newspapers and periodicals. Volunteers advertised for correspondents to brighten dull days, exchange ideas, and become prospective mates, but the soldiers' strongest motivation for placing the ads was to establish contact with respectable northern ladies. The wartime environment allowed few opportunities for the "boys in blue" to meet honorable women; they hoped to remedy their situation through correspondence requests.2
1 M. Debray and Monte Cristo, "Wanted Correspondence," Chicago Tribune,
April 27, 1863. It appears that the advertisers inverted the words intentionally for
comic effect. For instance, Sergt. B. Stillwagon and Sergt. Harry Brooks described
themselves as having "long curling eyes and small piercing black hair." Chicago
Tribune, January 9, 1865.
2 Soldiers were constantly asking family members to send them hometown news-