Confederates from Iowa:

Not to Defend, but to Understand

Think like Dr. Phil, Round 1: The River of Love can be a bumpy ride

Let’s have some fun.  A couple got engaged after Fort Sumter, and they faced big challenges in their relationship.  (The man was an Iowan who considered the Confederate service.).  If you could sit down with them before they got married, what advice would you give?  What do you predict happened in the rest of their lives?

Introducing the couple

Charles S.D. Jones was a 29-year-old Harvard-trained lawyer.  He was idealistic, courtly, and Catholic.  He was recovering from Chagres Fever, a debilitating kind of recurring, cerebral malaria.  Chagres Fever had dreadful long-term effects.

Miss Annie Miller

Miss Annie Miller

Annie Miller was a 19-year-old Kentucky belle.  She was captivating, popular, and Presbyterian.  She had turned down sparkling suitors before she met Charles, including a millionaire, a lawyer, and a few military officers.

Their political fathers

Charles’s father was a pro-slavery Democrat.  He had been a powerful Iowa U.S. Senator.  When he lost his Senate seat, he went to South America as an ambassador.  He waited for the Lincoln administration to replace him.  Charles’s father was a close, life-long friend of Jefferson Davis, president of the new Confederacy.

Annie’s father was a Republican postmaster, thanks to his personal and political friend, President Abraham Lincoln.

Long-distance relationship

Annie and Charles met in late March 1861 when he visited Washington, D.C.  He claimed, “It was love at first sight with both of us.”  Charles returned to Dubuque and courted Annie through letters.  Ten days later, Charles wrote his father:

“The last news is that old Abe will commence a war on the South.  God protect us if he does.  I feel a conviction that I will fight for the South.”

Three days after that, South Carolina troops fired upon Fort Sumter.

As Charles and Annie corresponded, they became serious.  Charles asked Annie’s father for her hand in marriage, and he consented.   Charles went to Kentucky to marry her.  (They had known each other six months.)  They planned to return to Dubuque as newlyweds.

Intentions, intentions

After Charles arrived (but before the wedding), he and Annie discussed the war (then in its fifth month).  Someone asked:  What would happen if fighting broke out in the North?  In that case, Charles said, he would serve the Confederacy.  Annie cried, and Charles backed down.  He promised “not to go to war or do anything unless she gave her consent.”

Charles wrote his father:

“There’s no telling what a silly man will not do on account of a woman’s tears.  If there is no other way to gain a livelihood but war, I’ve got myself into a miserable scrape.  However, I shall expect some good fortune – as Providence seems to ‘bear a hand’ in this business of marrying Annie Miller.”

Your turn:  Any advice?

What advice do you think Dr. Phil would give the couple?  What do you think happened in the rest of their lives?   I invite you to share your thoughts below.  In my next blog post (two weeks from now, on December 22), I’ll tell what happened to Charles and Annie.




  1. Probably served in the confederacy which is hard to believe for an Iowan but his father in law was pro slavery. Jim

  2. Talmadge Wilson

    Too many cultural differences. End the affair and move on!

    • Hi, Talmadge. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I’ll look forward to telling (in two weeks) what happened to Annie and Charles.

  3. Since we’re being “Dr. Phil” I agree with Talmadge Wilson. However, when you’re young and in love taking the hard road is normal. Plus, if you’re committed to each other…stranger things have happened. Can’t wait to find out what happened to them.

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