Letter from William Fordham McKewn to Mary Christina Louis, December 28, 1859


Letter from William Fordham McKewn to Mary Christina Louis, December 28, 1859


Written by William Fordham McKewn, Class of 1862, to Mary Christina Louis in 1859. McKewn writes to tell Miss Louis of his love for her, and writes a poem to express his affections. At the end of the letter, McKewn tells Miss Louis about his pet squirrel Gertrude, who lives in his room at The Citadel.




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Wade Sherard Collection










Charleston (S.C.)

Date Valid


[Page 1]
Dec. 28th 1859

My Dear Miss Mary

I arrived safe last night about 11 O’clock and am again engaged in the performance of my many duties. As I left the depot I was looking out towards home I thought I might see you again as you were going home. After I had passed Mr. Baldwin’s I sat down to think over all that had passed during the four short days that I was at home. You may know who was uppermost in my thoughts. That dearest of all young Ladies to me I need not tell you her name is Mary. You recollect on Tuesday you gave me a piece of paper with these words written upon it

“Tell me dear one before we part,
If I have a place within your heart.”

[Page 2]
I do not think I told you. But it would be telling you just what you know already. If I assured you that you do not hold a place there, but you are sole and single ruler over the whole empire of it. I declare you do not know how miserable I fell today. Just think yesterday I was where all was bright and gay to me, but now everything is sad and dreary. The old drum is beating and the officers are giving commands, which sounds very differently from the musical voices that greeted my ear but a short time ago. Yesterday I hated to leave home worse than I ever did before, I would have cried a little but I have not cried in such a long time it would have been almost unnatural and besides you might have laughed at me.

Do you know that [I] imagined you

[Page 3]
looked sorry. But I expect it was all presentation on my part, and besides could not Lee supply my place? I do not think he could. I have just been into recitation. Don’t you think it was a shame to make us recite to day. Mixing those old complicated figures in descriptive Geometry up in minds when there is no room for them there. Miss Mary you would not be surprised if was to tell you that I ------- love you truly and sincerely. This poetry will express it partially, and every word contains truth.

“Bright as your star within my mind,
A hand unseen has set thee,
There hath thine image been enshrined,
Since first dear love I met thee.”

In writing this way I believed that you would share my feelings and now

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I would ask you truly and really if you will share my affections. Send me an answer to this question in your next letter, which I will expect very soon. Miss Mary all that I have written may be tiresome and sickening to you, but it is nevertheless my true feelings and if I have written anything that you dislike or disapprove of you must tell me but above all things, do Miss Mary do not show this letter to any body that is not your entire confidant. No, before that let it be buried deep behind the folds of secrecy. I will not say anything more upon this subject at present, but will wait for your answer, which I hope will be as I want it.

My squirrel is quite well at present with the exception that she has not a very good appetite as she has not eaten any thing since I left home. She is becoming quite tame, but

[Page 5]
I can not think of [a] good name for her. Can’t you tell me one that will suit. I intend to call her Gertrude until I can get another name. Do you think that one is pretty? If you want those compositions I will send them up next time that I write but you must promise not to laugh at them. I think I have written enough of nonsense for one letter, and I know you will get tired before you get through with this. I will not rest until you send me an answer to this, and you know you have two letters to answer. So I will expect a long one. I expect Monsieur Ellie would be awfully surprised if he was to know all that is in this letter. I must bid you good bye. I remain as ever

Your truest friend


McKewn, William Fordham, “Letter from William Fordham McKewn to Mary Christina Louis, December 28, 1859,” The Citadel Archives Digital Collections, accessed June 21, 2024, https://citadeldigitalarchives.omeka.net/items/show/758.