Military Love Letters: 1776 vs. 2016


It’s been 240 years since the Revolutionary War ended, and our spouses still need our support on the home front.

If you close your eyes, I bet you can picture the scene in Yorktown in 1776. The sweeping grass and rolling hills of Virginia. The men in their uniforms: the tall boots, fitted pants, the tails of a cropped jacket whose hand-adorned golden buttons mimic soldiers in a straight line. The wigs, the pirate-like hats, the bayonets in hand. Now, add the low rumble of a snare drum, the distant sound of a cannon. Just slightly different than the battlefields of today, right? No wigs, smaller hats, more practical uniforms, not to mention the vastly evolved warfare.

And, yet, some things don’t change: valor, commitment, and the importance of good communication with your spouse.

In honor of the 4th of July, SpouseBuzz presents an actual excerpt from a letter from George Washington to his wife Martha (apparent typos included on purpose) ... followed by what it would sound like in an updated version for today’s military couple.


From George to Martha


18 June 1775

My Dearest,

I am now set down to write you on a subject which fills me with inexpressible concern -- and this concern is greatly aggravated and increased, when I reflect upon the uneasiness I know it will give you - It has been determined in Congress that the whole Army raised for the defence of the American Cause shall be put under my care, and that it is necessary for me to proceed immediately to Boston to take upon me the command of it. You may believe me my dear Patcy, when I assure you, in the most solemn manner, that, so far from seeking this appointment I have used every endeavor in my power to avoid it, not only from my unwillingness to part with you and the Family, but from a consciousness of its being a trust too great for my Capacity and that I should enjoy more real happiness and felicity in one month with you, at home, than I have the most distant prospect of reaping abroad, if my stay were to be Seven times Seven years. But, as it has been a kind of destiny that has thrown me upon this Service, I shall hope that my undertaking of it, is designed to answer some good purpose - You might, and I suppose did perceive, from the Tenor of my letters, that I was apprehensive I could not avoid this appointment, as I did not even pretend [t]o intimate when I should return - that was the case - it was utterly out of my power to refuse this appointment without exposing my Character to such censures as would have reflected dishonour upon myself, and given pain to my friends - this, I am sure could not, and ought not be pleasing to you, & must have lessened me considerably in my own esteem. I shall rely therefore, confidently, on that Providence which has heretofore preservd, & been bountiful to me, not doubting but that I shall return safe to you in the fall - I shall feel no pain from the Toil, or the danger of the Campaign - My unhapiness will flow, from the uneasiness I know you will feel at being left alone - I beg of you to summon your whole fortitude Resolution, and pass your time as agreeably as possible - nothing will give me so much sincere satisfaction as to hear this, and to hear it from your own pen.

My dear

Patcy Yr Affecte

Go: Washington


And, now, what this letter would look like for today’s military couple. Still loving, still updating family from the battlefield, still underscoring the importance of duty, honor and country.


From Spouse to Spouse

Undisclosed Location

4 July, 2016

Hi Honey,

I finally have a minute to email you, and you are never going to believe this %$&. Up front, I’m just going to tell you that this is a great opportunity but we’re going to have to be apart for a little longer than we were planning.

Baby, they picked ME to be in charge. Can you believe that? Isn’t that crazy? I really didn’t expect it. I didn’t really even want it. Honestly, I just wanted to come home to you. These folks out here deserve the very best, and I don’t know that I can do it. I hope I’m capable enough to lead them.

So here’s the bad part. I have to be in Boston immediately, and it’s unaccompanied. You know I’d rather spend a month with you than 49 years in Boston. But I have to do this – they need me. I know I’ve been avoiding telling you when our return date was. Now you know why.

I thought this might happen and I didn’t want to get your hopes up. You know I can’t say no to these orders without damaging my reputation. I know you’ll worry about me, and I hate leaving you alone even longer, but I am not scared. I’ll come home to you, I promise. Be strong, babe. Try to stay busy. Write back as soon as you can to let me know you’re good with this.

Love you, babe –



Our great nation has seen many, many changes over the last 240 years. Fortunately, we still have brave men and women willing to fight for our freedom, and strong spouses and families willing to support them.

Happy 4th of July, from SpouseBuzz.




(Where did the George to Martha letter come from? It's "Letter, George Washington to Martha Washington, June 18, 1775." archived in Washington, D.C.: Tudor Place Foundation.)

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