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.
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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.
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 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.