There is something most touching in the following narration of the intensity of maternal sorrow and love—a grandeur, indeed, in the conduct of this poor lone mother, whose affection had made her mad, and who thus yearned for one her poor faded eyes could never see again. During the progress of the war, her son, a member of one of the Connecticut regiments, was taken prisoner and confined with other Union soldiers at Andersonville, Georgia. A short time afterwards several were exchanged. His mother, in Connecticut, hearing of it, and believing that he was among the number, left her desolate home, and went to Camp P_____ which was situated two miles from Annapolis, to seek her treasure among the boat loads landed on the Severn. She waited, wearily waited, day after day, for the coming of her boy; but though many came, he was not among them. “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick,” and so it was with her. Broken-hearted by constantly recurring disappointments, her mind, already shaken by grief, at last gave way, and thus months rolled away, and with them the events borne on the wings and waves of time.
During all this period she continued to visit the office of Dr. Vanderkieft, the surgeon in charge, to ascertain whether any boat loads of released prisoners had arrived. When, finally, the last detachment came in, she seemed overjoyed, and went, with throbbing heart, from skeleton to skeleton, scanning them eagerly, anxiously. But, her son was not there; and each day she went, heavy and weary in spirit, back to her home. The good-hearted surgeon—such he truly was—although he knew and had told her many times that her son had been officially reported as dead, still answered her every day with the same monotonous, but very kindly spoken, “No!”
Thus came this broken-hearted, shattered, but loving mother, every day, always provided with a shirt, a pair of drawers, pantaloons, boots and cap, and when informed, regularly, that her son had not yet arrived she would go down the graveled path across the lawn to the very end of the long wharf. There she stood looking over the broad waters of the Chesapeake for fully an hour. Clad ever in the same neat dress and closely fitting bonnet, she would gaze wistfully, longingly, over the blue waste, as if her very eagerness would hasten on the bark she imagined would bear back to her her child. But her tear-swollen eyes at last grew dim, her strength failed, and with the empty void aching in her breast, she slowly and finally turned her steps from that long-accustomed pathway, never again to retrace them, nor again to ask so piteously, “My son—has he come?”
Kirkland, Frazer, The Pictorial Book of Anecdotes and Incidents of the War of the Rebellion, Hartford: Hartford Publishing Company, 1867
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