Abraham Lincoln consoles Mrs. Lydia Bixby on the loss of five sons in the Civil War

Mrs. Bixby’s tremendous losses came to the attention of President Lincoln when he was informed by the State Adjutant General, William Schouler, that she had sent five sons into the Union army and that all five had been killed in action. Lincoln waited until after the upcoming elections and then composed the following letter to her.

Executive Mansion
Washington, Nov. 21, 1864

To Mrs. Bixby, Boston, Mass.

Dear Madam,

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours very sincerely and respectfully,
A. Lincoln

Some of you maybe wondering why I posted this relic. When I read that letter I get a lump in my throat and my eyes mist up. Obviously I wasn’t around during this time, nor are these my sons or family. We don’t talk that way anymore, we don’t put faces or words to our dead like that anymore. We post faceless numbers and speak words that are often in my opinion just that, words. There is no true feelings behind them. It seems we just want to say something and be done with it. I wonder if the families who like Mrs. Bixby have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom have truly understood that from our current President and or our Nation. I wonder if they know how many of us truly appreciate their sacrifice upon the altar of freedom for the Republic.

I often worry they don’t, or that proper respect hasn’t been paid to them for their loss. This blog, this letter is posted to all the “Mrs. Bixby’s out there. I am but one man who lives day to day. I hold no important office, I have no important titles, but to anyone who maybe reading this who has lost someone due to serving this Republic; this Country; I want you to know though I am but one man I truly mean this from the bottom of my heart and with all my being.



~ by Digory Kirke on August 15, 2008.


  1. This is truly one of the most moving sincere sympathy/understanding letters, I’ve ever seen !


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