1870: Army officer’s wife unimpressed by Illinois flasher

Frank and Alice Baldwin

Frank D. Baldwin served in the United States Army for more than 40 years, enlisting as a teenaged private in 1862 and retiring as a major-general in 1906. During his service, Baldwin fought with distinction in the US Civil War, several campaigns against Native American leaders Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, and the Spanish-American War. He was one of only 19 Americans to win the prestigious Medal of Honor twice.

Michigan-born Baldwin married Alice Blackwood in January 1867. For the next few years, husband and wife were separated by Frank’s military postings so corresponded regularly by mail. Alice’s letters suggest she was a devoted wife who adored her husband, as well as being a person of good humour.

Writing in October 1870, Alice informed Frank of an incident during a train trip through Illinois:

“There was a man showed his conflumux [penis] to me at one station where we stopped… while I was looking out the window. I thought he might have saved himself the trouble because I had seen one before.”

Alice’s letters occasionally contained sexual commentary or titillation. In one note from June 1873, she playfully chastises Frank for “casting sly glances at Mrs Sowter’s bubbies. You ought to be ashamed.” She also teases him by writing:

“How are you this hot day? I am most roasted and my chemise sticks to me and the sweat runs down my legs and I suppose I smell very sweet, don’t you wish you could be around just now?”

In another letter from December 1870, Alice taunts her husband about his prior intentions to marry another woman, Nellie Smith. According to Alice, Frank’s alternative wife might have suffered from his generous endowment:

“I felt real queer and strange when I heard you had half a mind to marry another girl. I thought I held undivided your love. Well, it’s too late now. Nellie Smith don’t know what she escaped. She would have been killed at one nab of your old Long Tom.”

Frank Baldwin died in 1923, aged 80. Alice died in 1930 after securing the publication of her late husband’s memoirs.

Source: Letters from Alice Baldwin to Frank Baldwin dated September 5th 1869; October 1st 1870; June 22nd 1873. Content on this page is © Alpha History 2019-23. Content may not be republished without our express permission. For more information please refer to our Terms of Use or contact Alpha History.