To the Parents of Elmer E. Ellsworth (1837-1861)

(2006)

"To the Parents of Elmer E. Ellsworth (1837-1861)" is the fourth song of Christopher Berg's song cycle Lincoln Letters, which sets five letters of Abraham Lincoln.

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Lincoln's original letter:


To Colonel Ellsworth's Parents,
Washington, D.C., May 25, 1861


To the Father and Mother of Col. Elmer E. Ellsworth


My Dear Sir and Madame:--In the untimely loss of your noble son, our affliction here is scarcely less than your own. So much of promised usefulness to one's country, and of bright hopes for one's self and friends, have never [Berg: rarely] been so suddenly dashed as in his fall. In size, in years, and in youthful appearance a boy only, his power to command men was surpassingly [Berg: exceedingly] great. [This power, combined with a fine intellectual and indomitable energy, and a taste altogether military, constituted in him, as seemed to me, the best natural talent in that department I ever knew. And yet he was singularly modest and deferential in social intercourse.] My acquaintance with him began less than two years ago; yet, [through the latter half of the intervening period], it was as intense [intimate] as the disparity of our ages and my engrossing engagements would permit. [To me he appeared to have no indulgences or pastimes, and I never heard him utter a profane or an intemperate word.] What was conclusive of his good heart, he never forgot his parents. [The honors he labored for so laudably, and for which, in the sad end, he so gallantly gave his life, he meant for them no less than for himself.]


In the hope that it may be no intrusion upon the sacredness of your sorrow, I have ventured to address you this tribute to the memory of my young friend and your brave and early fallen son.


May God give you the consolation which is beyond all earthly power.


Sincerely your friend in common affliction,
A. Lincoln


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Text of the song:


My Dear Sir and Madame:--In the untimely loss of your noble son, our affliction here is scarcely less than your own. So much of promised usefulness to one's country, and of bright hopes for one's self and friends, have rarely been so suddenly dashed as in his fall. In size, in years, and in youthful appearance a boy only, his power to command men was exceedingly great...My acquaintance with him began less than two years ago; yet,...it was as intimate as the disparity of our ages and my engrossing engagements would permit...What was conclusive of his good heart, he never forgot his parents.


In the hope that it may be no intrusion upon the sacredness of your sorrow, I have ventured to address you this tribute to the memory of my young friend and your brave and early fallen son.


May God give you the consolation which is beyond all earthly power.


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