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
Executive Mansion, Washington, November 21, 1864.
Mrs. Bixby, Boston, Massachusetts:
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,