from The Webster Times, Dec. 20, 1862 (Volume IV # 41), 
Sacrifices For Our Country

J. A. Spaulding, Editor

“Sir, my son is dead!” Such was the expression with which a gentleman greeted us the other day. He had just received intelligence of the death of a son in a southern hospital. Eighteen months ago this son left his home to go with his comrades and fight the battles of his country. He was a favorite son, and the father consented to his enlistment with reluctance. But the young man passed unscathed through the many battles of the Mass. Fifteenth having dearly bought honorable distinction, and the father had almost come to believe that his son would be spared to return to his home in the fullness of time without a scar.

Suddenly the news is flashed over the wires, “your son is dead!” and it strikes the father like a thunderbolt, with force all the more terrible because of the security with which his father had just wrapped the object of his solicitude. The stern features of the man relaxed as he made the announcement, and his eyes filled with tears as the words brought with full force the realization of his bereavement. 

Upon that countenance were plainly mirrored the thoughts which were stirring the depths of his soul. Memories of the past were there, of the pleasant companionship of two years ago; the bitter parting; the affectionate letters of the more recent past; and last, the stern truth that death had come when least looked for, and blasted their prospects of future happiness. We could not repress a feeling of sympathetic sadness, as the man gave us the few facts he had been able to gather concerning the death of his boy, and requested that public notice might be given of “another Webster volunteer gone.” He wished no eulogy spoken for him: and added, “He was a good boy.”

This is but a single case, yet how many similar might we record. But too often during the past year; and last have we performed the sad duty of chronicling the death of friends and acquaintances slain in this unholy and unnatural war. This is not the first time that the faltering voice has told us “my son,” or “my husband,” or “my brother,” is dead,! leaving the tearful eyes to speak the other truths of affliction and grief.

The fact daily becomes more apparent that war is stern and solemn business. The long list of killed and mortally wounded, the publication of which follows every battle, echoes this truth audibly enough, while it also increases the solicitude of those who have dear friends thus far spared yet still exposed to the fast flying shafts of death. How often do the thoughts of such recur to the time when a father, a brother, a husband, or “a dearer one still,” bade the final adieu, and started for the sunny South; to the parting word, and the affectionate kiss; and how will a strange fear take possession of the soul, that the farewell grasp will prove

“that lingering press
Of hands that for the last time sever;
Of hearts, whose pulse of happiness,
When that hold breaks, is dead forever.”

The great world does not, it cannot, sympathize with the stricken heart of those who have sacrificed all that earth held dear for our country. We urge on the fight, and are eager to read of sanguinary battles, forgetting in some measure how many hearts must bleed, how many homes will be made desolate, whether victory or defeat follow the struggle. To him who can bring himself to fully realize the direful results of war, the vast aggregate of mental and physical torture which are its necessary concomitant, the question must at times present itself, “Is the object for which we are lavishing our choicest treasures, worthy of the sacrifice?”

Ah, it is well, perhaps, that so poor an appraisal is fixed upon the lives of our countrymen, and the happiness of domestic circles; for, were it otherwise; we might well have reason to despair of the re-union of these American States. If the war is to be prosecuted to a successful issue, we must steel the heart against the wail of mourning Rachels, and of fatherless children; we must teach our people submission to a fate which will place yet untold thousands of brave men beneath the sod.

If to die in the service of one’s country be indeed a glorious and christian death; ultimate victory to our arms in this struggle will strew the land thick with the graves of heroes, and send to the realms of the blest multitudes of souls which otherwise might people the regions of despair.


15th Massachusetts VI