Brev. Brig. Gen'l
- Feb 14, 2012
- Central Pennsylvania
A family portrait which has always gotten to me, sons, brothers, husbands, sweethearts? Guessing a combination here, two soldiers dear to them going off to war.
" I left my home Oh! who can tell,
The anguish felt at parting
With those who tears like rain-drops fell
Upon their boy when starting!
I longed with ardent hopes to fly
To her whose prayers still hover
Around my couch and waking sigh,
Would love, that the war were over "
Verse from one of the now forgotten songs of the war
Captain Samuel Judd, Co. A, 3rd Michigan was killed at Fair Oaks, 1862. From Michigan's excellent historical site, sharing the story of the Judd family.
Came across this sobering photograph, a family posing by their front door. Husband and wife with children, backdrop one of our iconic log cabins signifying a life built through hard work and love. Hard to see, his uniform tells us war had intruded on a domestic scene of great closeness. Harder, the accompanying text describing the husband's death. He'd never be back, the photograph his echo.
Calling them ' Before You Go ' photos, brings it into focus, what was this awful thing called war.
Could be wrong, this seems a family of siblings, image of woman, bottom left too faded to ascertain whether or not she was mother- could be a sibling or wife. Their faces are tough to see, same expression in so many, many photos.
We see these, maybe without really understanding their significance. In my head, the soldier always came back- unrealistic, too difficult thinking this was a family's attempt to remember someone before vanishing into the shambles. Maybe it's a good thing, most photos orphaned- we can still pretend. But. They were done while tendrils of dread crept around hearts. What if.
Another, unclear whether mother or wife, recording the fact that he was here- before the war took him away.
Her face. A lot of pain. That's her husband, she's holding another portrait, maybe a lost family member. The father ( soldier's brother? ) seems as deeply conscious of what this photograph could mean as the wife.
" Oh! sad it was to leave the form,
Of her I loved with madness;
Yet I hastened to the battle storm,
The foe to meet with gladness!
And Oh! at night with hearts set free,
When the day's long fight was over,
In dreams she seemed to say to me
Hope love the war will soon be over. "
There's a handkerchief in her left hand, a huge amount of emotion on the face of this USCT soldier
We've seen a few of these LoC photos before, IMO without seeing them.
" My boy is coming from the war
The mother fondly said,
While on the gory battle plain
Her boy was lying dead!
His comrades came with lightsome steps
And sound of martial drum,
But now that Mother sadly waits
For one who'll never come
My boy is coming from the war
The mother fondly said "
You just cannot forget her, one of the most powerful ' Before You Go ' images I've seen.
" But ah! a sad smile said to me, wait love, wait love, wait love until the war is over,
Hope love, hope love, hope love for the war will soon be over "