Women in Mourning

The lyrics for Mother is the Battle Over? are written from the perspective of a child seeking to understand both war and loss:

Mother is the battle over! Mother is the battle over!
Thousands, thousands have been killed, they say;
Is my Father coming! tell me,
Have our soldiers gain'd the day!

Is he well or is he wounded!
Mother do you think he's slain!
If you know, I pray you tell me,
Will my father come again, will my father come again!

Mother dear you're always sighing
Since you last the paper read
Tell me why you now are crying
Why that cap is on your head! Why that cap is on your head!

Ah! I see you cannot tell me,
Father's one among the slain;
Altho' he lov'd us very dearly,
He will never come again! He will never come again.

Mother Is the Battle Over?

B. E. Roefs, Mother Is the Battle Over?
Boston: Oliver Ditson & Co., [1861–65]
Newberry Case 8A 338
Gift of the family of James Francis Driscoll

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Mother Is the Battle Over?, audio

Images of mothers standing over their son’s graves as well as songs expressing the grief of lost children became pervasive during the war. Long before the war, grieving survivors cherished commercially produced “mourning pictures,” which depicted families and friends weeping at a loved one’s grave. The illustration of the “Patriot Mother” in The Soldier’s Casket magazine follows the established conventions of such imagery, but the reality of the war’s countless casualties would have made this an intensely affecting scene for readers.

"The Patriot Mother at Her Boy's Grave"

"The Patriot Mother at Her Boy's Grave" from The Soldier's Casket
Philadelphia: Ch. W. Alexander, 1865
Newberry F 834 .0075

As early as autumn 1861, the popular magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book portrayed a widow making further sacrifices by donating money to her church.

"The Widow's Mite"

"The Widow's Mite" from Godey's Lady's Book
Philadelphia: Louis A. Godey, September 1861
Newberry A 5 .375 v. 63

The final verse of Dear Mother, I’ve Come Home to Die is a direct address from a dying soldier to his family:

Dear mother, sister, brother, all-one parting kiss-to all-good-by!
Weep not! but clasp your hand in mine, and let me like a soldier die;
I've met the foe upon the field, where kindred fiercely did defy.
I fought for right, God bless the flag! dear mother, I've come home to die.

Dear Mother I've Come Home to Die

E. Bowers and Henry Tucker, Dear Mother I've Come Home to Die
New York: Firth, Son, & Co., 1863
Newberry Case 8A 319
Gift of the family of James Francis Driscoll