A Mysterious Letter Puzzle And A Poem Composed During The Battle Of Valley Forge

While reading The Jester’s Magazine (March 1766 edition), the following caught my attention:

mysterious love letter

Apparently, this was a love letter to Miss M****** written by “R. B.”. No further information about the nature of this letter was given in the volume and no solution was provided as well. So, I tried to solve the enigma. After some thinking, I was able to solve it.

There is but only one
And I am only he;
That loves but only one,
And you are only she.

Requite me for the same
And say you unto me
I love but only one
And you are only he.

To solve the puzzle, start reading the words from the bottom right corner to the top of the bottom section (There is but only one). Then read the next words to the left of the first words you read (and I am only he). Continue reading this way until you arrive at the end (And you are only he).

This looks like some sort of poem, isn’t it? I tried to find this poem but I had no luck at first. But after some digging, I found the whole poem. The only difference was in the line

I love but only one and you are only he.

The poem that I found used this line instead:

Thou loves but only one and I am only he.

The poem was written by Ensign John Littlefield of Wells, Maine, who fought during the American Revolution. Littlefield was one of the revolutionaries who fought at the Battle of Valley Forge, which was one of the hardest battles of the Revolutionary War. They had to deal with the harsh winter, severe blizzards, and lack of resources and appropriate clothing while marching through snow-covered lands.

During Littlefield’s stay at the Valley Forge, he wrote a letter to his lover, Miriam Parsons at Batcomb. He wrote the poem on seventeen heart-shaped pieces of paper. The poem was kept for several generations. His great-great-granddaughter, Miss Sargent of Kennebunk, Maine continued to preserve the poem. She was the one who first showed the poem to the public. The poem was first published in Esselyn Gilman Perkins’ Wells in the American Revolution 1776-1976 (1976). Here’s the complete poem:

My Dearest Love and lot devine.
See pictured here thy heart and mine.
But Cupid with his cruel dart
Hath deeply wounded my poor heart
And has between us-set a cross
Which makes me to lament my loss;
But I am in hopes when this is gone
That both our hearts will join in one.
O, thou art mine, love, and I am thine;
There I got thee to be my Valentine.
First I wrote and then I drew;
Fortune said that I got you.
O, the rose is red, the violets blue
The honey sweet, love, and so art you;
The flower is fair, but fairer you
This much to true love is due.
There is but only one and I am only he
Who loves but only one and you are only she.
Requite me with the same and say thou imto me
Thou loves but only one and I am only he.
My dear, my love, my heart’s desire.
See how I burn with love’s fierce fire;
On me some timely pity take
Or I will die for they dear sake.
These hearts are joined in casting love
And linked so fast that none can move;
Successful days those hearts have found
And with true happiness been bound
But my poor heart no rest can find
But daily languishes for they sake
Nor ever will my heart have ease
Until our hearts are joined like these.
If you refuse to be my wife
You will bereave me of my life.
Or if you do my love disdain
Here none on earth can cause my pain
Pale death at last will stand my friend.
And bring all sorrows to an end.
Where loyal hearts are crost by one
True love will join them both in one
For I do think when hearts agree
There can no strife nor malice be.
Love knot once tied who can divide.
My dearest love and lot divine
See pictured here thy heart and mine.
The powers above can ne’er pretend
Or say that I have falsely penned.

Littlefield married Parsons after he returned from the war.

But I’m still wondering about one thing. The Battle of Valley Forge occurred during the winter of 1777 to 1778 but R. B.’s love letter puzzle was published in The Jester’s Magazine in 1766, eleven years before Littlefield wrote the poem. Moreover, according to Edward E. Bourne’s The History of Wells and Kennebunk from the Earliest Settlement to the Year 1820 (1875), Littlefield died in 1790 at the age of 37. Thus, he was only 13 years old when the love letter from The Jester’s Magazine came out.

This may either mean that Littlefield had read the magazine at some point and incorporated the lines of R. B.’s love letter to his poem or R. B. was a pseudonym used by Littlefield. The former was more likely than the latter but we would never know for sure and we could only speculate.


Posted by

My name Edmark M. Law. I work as a freelance writer, mainly writing about science and mathematics. I am an ardent hobbyist. I like to read, solve puzzles, play chess, make origami and play basketball. In addition, I dabble in magic, particularly card magic and other sleight-of-hand type magic. I live in Hong Kong. You can find me on Twitter` and Facebook. My email is edmarklaw@learnfunfacts.com

21 thoughts on “A Mysterious Letter Puzzle And A Poem Composed During The Battle Of Valley Forge

What's On Your Mind?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s