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Lincoln's Letter to Mrs. Bixby

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Among the best known - yet greatly disputed and controversial - of the writings attributed to Abraham Lincoln is the epistle allegedly sent to a Mrs. Bixby at the height of the Civil War. The letter consoles the Boston lady on the reported loss of five sons, all of whom had supposedly died battling for the Union cause. Published widely, the letter reads:

Executive Mansion, Washington, November 21, 1864.

Mrs. Bixby, Boston, Massachusetts:

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 words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to 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,

Abraham Lincoln.