Hebron, OH — The recent discovery of a cache of Civil War-era correspondence illustrates that as their husbands marched off to battle, the women they left behind often turned to virtually anything to assist them in coping with their immense loneliness.
Excerpts released to the Ledger yesterday show that Mrs. Myrna Coleridge of nearby Kirkersville was one of these women. Her husband, James Thornton Coleridge of the 11th Ohio Infantry served the Union cause from June of 1861 until his death in the Battle of Buzzard's Roost Gap, Tennessee in February of 1864.
The loving, handwritten letters tell of Coleridge's continued, desperate bouts of marital isolation. They also describe the various and copious remedies she employed to relieve such solitude.
"I feel I have failed you, my sweetest, for my lonesome state has agitated my fingers to the breaking point... I can no longer resist the swelling hunger in my loins ...
Subsequent correspondence relates Coleridge's attempts to find peace with household objects:
"...for the dowel rod Miss Vitula Abernathy suggested I employ in my time of need has left my womanly cleft asplinter. I do say it was to be pleasurable at first, but I then deemed it to be as if my birth canal had engorged itself upon a horde of briar bushes, and it was not pleasurable atall..."
Another letter describes how those left alone relied upon one another to satisfy their basest needs:
"Our dearest neighbor Azaelea Lee Witherspoon has known about my condition for some time now, and has sought to remedy it with the dewy softness of her own tongue..."
The final letter discloses how desperate Coleridge had become:
"... I hope I am not chanced upon in the buttery with my buss affixed to a steed, for I should die a thousand deaths of embarassment and shame, and sully the Coleridge name for generations to come..."
Austin Harvey, noted Civil War historian and author of The Aching Wrist: The Uncivil War in the Bedroom acknowledges that Coleridge's experience was not uncommon. "Posers like Ken Burns would have you believe that these women wrote to their dearest only of their undying love and devotion. But now, we have proof positive that sometimes, they were just horny as hell."