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Loreta’s Civil War: Lavish affection bestowed upon me

May 24, 2016

KS33

Throughout 2016 and 2017, Stillness of Heart will share edited excerpts from the extraordinary memoir of Loreta Janeta Velazquez, who chronicled her adventures throughout the Civil War — either as herself, as a Confederate spy, or in disguise as Confederate Lt. Harry T. Buford. She fought and led men in terrible battles, fell in love, bore and lost children, and traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe, ultimately fulfilling her childhood dream of a rich and adventurous life.

You can read the entire 1876 memoir online here. Learn more about Velazquez (and the incredible documentary film Maria Agui Carter made about her) here.

Part 3: Velazquez realizes she is willing to pay any price to begin her new life with her beloved, even in the face of family rejection.

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When my lover began to appear at my aunt’s as a pretty constant visitor, Raphael was quick to suspect him as a rival, who was more highly appreciated than himself, and became furiously jealous. I cannot tell what torture I suffered in endeavoring to be amiable to a man whom I hated, in order that I might prevent an explosion which would deprive me of the society of the one I really loved with the most devoted fondness. Finally Raphael, unable to endure the sight of his rival constantly in attendance upon me, and evidently finding extreme favor in my eyes, prevailed upon my aunt to forbid him admittance to the house, on the plea that he was becoming altogether too intimate with the betrothed of another. This gratified Raphael’s malignity, and it was a severe blow to both of us. …

In spite of my aunt’s endeavors to keep us apart, and in spite of Raphael’s jealous vigilance, William — for that was my lover’s name — found means to carry on a correspondence with me, to meet me at the houses of mutual friends, and to speak to me on the street on my way to and from school. …

[O]ne evening, as I was sitting at my window, in company with a young French Creole girl, I saw William pass and look up. I waved my handkerchief in salutation, and he recognized the signal by raising his cap. I then asked the young lady if she would not do me the favor of taking a letter to him, and of permitting us to have an interview at her home. She readily consented; and carrying a hastily written note to William, soon returned with an answer, to the effect that he would meet me in an hour’s time. My aunt did not permit me to go out alone in the evening; but as she suspected nothing wrong in the proposed visit to my friend’s house, she consented, without hesitation, for me to go under the escort of one of the servants. As my escort, of course, on our arrival at the rendezvous, remained with the servants of the house, I was able to converse with William without fear of espial, or of being interrupted.

My lover informed me that he expected soon to be ordered to one of the frontier posts. He declared that he could not exist without me, and proposed that we should elope, and get married privately. As this was my own plan exactly, I gave my consent, without any hesitation, the moment the proposition was made. On a little reflection, however, my conscience began to trouble me, for I knew that I should not be doing right; so I told him I would prefer that he should make an open and straightforward proposition for my hand to my parents. I considered that it was a duty I owed them to ask their consent first, but promised, if they opposed the marriage, that I would not let their disapprobation interfere with the consummation of our wishes. William himself thought that this was the proper and honorable course to pursue, and he accordingly wrote to my father, and asked his permission to marry me. A reply to his request was not long forthcoming, in which he was reprimanded in very harsh terms for daring to make it, knowing me to be the betrothed of another. This settled the matter; and accordingly, on the 5th of April, 1856, we were clandestinely married. …

My aunt was extremely indignant; and finding me obdurate, threatened to put me in the convent at Baton Rouge. I was terribly frightened at this, and concluded that it was time for me to act with decision. I accordingly informed my husband of the situation, and he came immediately and claimed me as his wife, presenting the certificate of marriage to my horror-stricken relative.

This was a terrible blow to my aunt, but a greater one to my parents, especially to my father, who idolized me. My father’s indignation got the better of his affection, and he promptly informed me that I might consider myself as repudiated and disinherited. The pangs this cruel message caused me were intense, but I was consoled with the lavish affection bestowed upon me by my handsome young husband, and with the thought that, in course of time, my parents would relent, and be willing to again receive me as their daughter. …

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