Now that I've proven my ancestor Mary Augusta Vincent married George W. Matteson, I'm naturally curious about their courtship. George enlisted in 1861, five years before the couple married in July of 1865. Did they know each other when he enlisted, did they meet while he was home on a furlough? Their homes were one hundred miles apart in 1865, how did they meet? George mustered out of the army in early March of 1865, only four months before the marriage, it seems to me they must have been acquainted, perhaps even engaged, for at least part of his service.
I'm not too hopeful I'll find the answers I seek, but nonetheless I've been reading histories of the 76th regiment and pouring over letters from men in George's Company F. One bit of information that turned up was that George was captured at the Battle of the Wilderness, 5 May 1864 and held prisoner for seven months. Some of the regimental histories mentioned their soldiers being sent to the notorious pow camp at Andersonville Georgia; was that where George was taken after his capture? If he spent seven months in that prison he was lucky to have survived, many died within much shorter time spans. A young soldier named Price who was taken prisoner the same time as George lasted only three months in it's confines.
Surfing around trying to find some lists of prisoners I stumbled upon this site: http://www.civilwarprisoners.com/index.php
containing searchable databases of Andersonville and Cahaba prisons along with the prisoners aboard the Sultana, a ship which exploded as it was carrying prisoners from those two places to freedom. I selected Andersonville's database and typed George's name into the search fields, immediately this popped up--
He had been taken to that terrible place! There's no telling what shape he was in when he was released, but it couldn't have been good. By the time of his capture the prisoner exchange program had been halted leaving growing numbers of Union prisoners trapped in Confederate prisons which had insufficient resources to care for or feed them. This leaves me wondering even more, was Mary Augusta engaged to George in 1864? Did she know of his capture and where he was? Maybe someday I'll find out.