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The Forgotten Union of the Two Henrys: A History of the “Peculiar and Rarest Intimacy” of the American Civil War

I am a writing about the love between Henry Clay Trumbull and Henry Ward Camp, members of a Northern regiment in the American Civil War (1861-1865). They were “united in well-nigh perfect oneness,” and their “relations … were of peculiar and rarest intimacy,” Trumbull wrote in the preface to The Knightly Soldier, his 1865 biography of Henry Camp, who was shot and killed in October 1864. What were these two men feeling for each other? And how did those feelings matter in their world, especially in terms of their Christianity and the national union over which the war was fought? This will be the first historical account of a same-sex couple in the war. My central research question is: how does a focus on their emotions help us better understand 1) the history of the relationships that comprise the social (the “more perfect Union," in the words of the U.S. Constitution), and 2) the interplay of sexual difference and sexual desire within those relationships? My archive consists of close to two thousand pages of unpublished letters, hundreds of places, and a smattering of material objects, photographs, and drawings.

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