Before You Go, My Love; Portraits Of Goodbye

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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#1
BEFORE YOU GO.jpg

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

before you go f.jpg

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.

before you go 3.jpg

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.

before you go 4.jpg

Another, unclear whether mother or wife, recording the fact that he was here- before the war took him away.

before you go c.jpg

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. "


before you go e.jpg

There's a handkerchief in her left hand, a huge amount of emotion on the face of this USCT soldier

before you go h.jpg


before you go i.jpg


before you go b.jpg

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 "

before you go 2.jpg


before you go n.jpg

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 "




 

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#3
" 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 "
What somber faces. Sadly, many of these loved ones were never reunited.

War Widows.jpg
 

AnnaLee

First Sergeant
Joined
Sep 4, 2017
Messages
1,181
#7
I enjoyed your posting, Annie. It reminded me of a poem I wrote several years ago after visiting cemeteries' of the CW dead at Antietam.

Silent Witnesses

September moonbeams stream through the soft haze,

A prophetic glare as soldiers bivouac on the Antietam

Hillside. The awful stillness of its bright light gazes upon

The shadowy scene which projects ominous rumblings.

“For the Lord your God moves about in your camp to protect you and to deliver your enemies to you.”

Sentries stand guard, campfires blaze through the night.

Acres of tents stand dark and silent as death where one can

Almost hear the soft flutter of the Reaper’s wings as he hovers

Above and selects his victims for the morning sacrifice.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation-- whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life-- of whom shall I be afraid?”

Sleep weary ones before the morrow’s conflict. Envision your home

And loved ones left behind. Northern and Southern mothers, wives, sisters

Unaware of the hour, dream of your soldier boys, before their blood paints the

Landscape a crimson hue. Before war takes them from your arms...

“‘Be still, and know that I am God...’”

A foggy damp morning greets the young warriors. The busy camp is

Composed of solemn nods and salutes as preparations are made for combat.

Bewildered, young faces, most not old enough to shave, line up with their

Weapons and charge toward the foe with the roar of artillery in their ears.

“The Lord is my strength and my shield...”

Whimpers and screams echo on all sides. Gaping wounds with gushing blood

Spill onto the earth. Mangled limbs, missing arms and legs, faces blown away,

Abdomens penetrated; men bleeding to death from shell wounds, stacks of arms

And legs piled outside a window as surgeons work through the night.

“Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.”

Someone lifts a wounded boy only to hear a soft whir, see his body quiver, and lie still. A leg is held for the surgeon to hack off without chloroform. An arm reaches upward as The Grim Reaper claims him. An angel of mercy wipes the death sweat from a cold, Clammy brow and closes sightless eyes. Another wets the parched tongue, calms Delirium’s strife, till the dying lips murmur, "Mother." or "My Wife."

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”

Broken bodies laid to sleep in hastily dugged graves by their

Union comrades who move on to another battlefield. Tomorrow

Night they may be the ones to repose under the reddened sod. But

For now another march, another bivouac, more injuries, suffering,

And deaths. Numerous battles to fight before the war is won.

“Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.’ "


**************
 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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Joined
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Messages
18,396
Location
Central Pennsylvania
#9
I enjoyed your posting, Annie. It reminded me of a poem I wrote several years ago after visiting cemeteries' of the CW dead at Antietam.

Silent Witnesses

September moonbeams stream through the soft haze,

A prophetic glare as soldiers bivouac on the Antietam

Hillside. The awful stillness of its bright light gazes upon

The shadowy scene which projects ominous rumblings.

“For the Lord your God moves about in your camp to protect you and to deliver your enemies to you.”

Sentries stand guard, campfires blaze through the night.

Acres of tents stand dark and silent as death where one can

Almost hear the soft flutter of the Reaper’s wings as he hovers

Above and selects his victims for the morning sacrifice.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation-- whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life-- of whom shall I be afraid?”

Sleep weary ones before the morrow’s conflict. Envision your home

And loved ones left behind. Northern and Southern mothers, wives, sisters

Unaware of the hour, dream of your soldier boys, before their blood paints the

Landscape a crimson hue. Before war takes them from your arms...

“‘Be still, and know that I am God...’”

A foggy damp morning greets the young warriors. The busy camp is

Composed of solemn nods and salutes as preparations are made for combat.

Bewildered, young faces, most not old enough to shave, line up with their

Weapons and charge toward the foe with the roar of artillery in their ears.

“The Lord is my strength and my shield...”

Whimpers and screams echo on all sides. Gaping wounds with gushing blood

Spill onto the earth. Mangled limbs, missing arms and legs, faces blown away,

Abdomens penetrated; men bleeding to death from shell wounds, stacks of arms

And legs piled outside a window as surgeons work through the night.

“Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.”

Someone lifts a wounded boy only to hear a soft whir, see his body quiver, and lie still. A leg is held for the surgeon to hack off without chloroform. An arm reaches upward as The Grim Reaper claims him. An angel of mercy wipes the death sweat from a cold, Clammy brow and closes sightless eyes. Another wets the parched tongue, calms Delirium’s strife, till the dying lips murmur, "Mother." or "My Wife."

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”

Broken bodies laid to sleep in hastily dugged graves by their

Union comrades who move on to another battlefield. Tomorrow

Night they may be the ones to repose under the reddened sod. But

For now another march, another bivouac, more injuries, suffering,

And deaths. Numerous battles to fight before the war is won.

“Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.’ "


**************

Thanks so much for sharing that! Perhaps professional soldiers, those who lived through the Mexican war had some idea those images were war, but really, not sure anyone else did. Then Bull Run. What's amazing after getting a look at a battle's aftermath is there was a next one.

Guessing most photos of men uniform were ' Before You Go ' shots. One of JPK is haunting, in uniform and badly faded- like someone who wasn't there any more.
 

grace

Sergeant
Joined
May 5, 2018
Messages
594
Location
Crossroads of America
#11
Just was at a living history yesterday (wish I could go back, but oh, well) and actually talked about this a bit, I think. Thank you so much for sharing!

(mutters. I am so glad I don't have that problem!)
 

DaveBrt

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 6, 2010
Messages
2,328
Location
Charlotte, NC
#12
Yes, those photos are hard to look at -- the men have taken several steps toward their deaths when they put on the uniform, and everyone in the pictures appears to be aware of that.

But putting on a military uniform always takes the wearer closer to death. During my 25 years in the Navy, 200 men died in training or other accidents within 50 miles of me -- boiler explosion, ship collisions, helicopter collision, poison gas in an unvented compartment, etc. I have no "Before You Go" picture, but I remember well my wife's face as she said good by and I left on my first deployment.
 
Joined
Sep 3, 2018
Messages
127
Location
Jacksonville, FL
#14
Thank you for posting those photos.

Your poem is very good; really brings to life the constant dread of the same scene over and over. So awful! It brings
a sorrow to mind, and Lee's quote that we should never grow too fond of war.
 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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Messages
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#16
Yes, those photos are hard to look at -- the men have taken several steps toward their deaths when they put on the uniform, and everyone in the pictures appears to be aware of that.

But putting on a military uniform always takes the wearer closer to death. During my 25 years in the Navy, 200 men died in training or other accidents within 50 miles of me -- boiler explosion, ship collisions, helicopter collision, poison gas in an unvented compartment, etc. I have no "Before You Go" picture, but I remember well my wife's face as she said good by and I left on my first deployment.

Thank you for saying that, it makes it easier to speak of it when someone who was there brings it up. An early memory is my parents watching the news every night- used to be reports from Vietnam. KIA, MIA and wounded, every day. Both had a brother there. the strain on their faces is a clear memory even for a child too young to get it.

Wish they used a better word than deploy- makes it sound like a trip instead of as you say, putting on a uniform and moving closer to death. Guessing the faces of those saying goodbye look exactly like what we see 150 years ago.
 



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