Image from the Civil War website.

How did the Civil War affect the timing of your ancestors getting married?

For the Poore brothers, it is a mixed story. The oldest brother, Francis Marion Poore, who was 22 in 1860, married on the eve of the conflict. But his wife had died giving birth in March 1861 to their son George Washington Poore. Francis married again after the war. John F. Poore, who was 17 in 1860, married after the war in 1870. William B. Poore, just 12 in 1860, also married in 1870.

In their Journal of Southern History article, “The Effect of the Civil War on Southern Marriage Patterns,” authors J. David Hacker, Libra Hilde, and James Holland Jones noted that Southern white women who reached marriage age during the war worried whether they would be able to find a desirable spouse.

The authors wrote that the war affected the timing of marriage in several ways.

Some couples decided not to wait. They got married before the groom was called to the battlefield. Others married whenever the men came home on furlough.

Another round of marriages took place at the end of the war as the men came home.

One in five white men of military age in the Confederacy was killed or died during the war. Many women of marrying age lost hope that they would find a suitable spouse and instead believed they would have to depend on their families for support.

But Hacker, Hilde and Jones actually found that over the long term Southern women’s fears of spinsterhood failed to materialize. Single and widowed women after the war generally were able to find suitable husbands.

Do you know how the Civil War affected your ancestors’ decision to get married?