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Lt. Col. Henry Merritt- A telegram and a poem

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  • Lt. Col. Henry Merritt- A telegram and a poem

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    In the recent settling of my grandfather's estate, this previously unknown telegram was discovered. It is addressed to Reverend Jacob Hood (my great x4 grandfather) and states very briefly:
    "Col. Merritt killed at Newbern. His body will probably be here tomorrow. Come down at once with your wife."
    Without detouring into the genealogy too much, Reverend Hood was the father-in-law of Col. Merritt. Those familiar with the regimental history of the 23rd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry published in 1886 will probably recognize the name of Lt. Col Henry Merritt and be familiar with the circumstances of his death at the Battle of New Berne, March 12, 1862. As a prominent and well regarded citizen of Salem, MA, his death was attended with a great deal of pomp and circumstance, to include remarks by Governor Andrew. Perhaps the most singular memorial observance came in the form of a poem written by Reverend Augustine Caldwell of Ipswich, MA and published in The Boston Evening Transcript, March 27, 1862. The poem was inspired by the conduct of Lt. Col. Merritt's aged mother at the conclusion of the wake held in their Salem home. When it came time to cover her son's face with the national flag for transport to the church, she insisted on performing this duty herself, saying:
    "My son, I have covered you many times before in your cradle, now I do it for the last time and with the flag of your country."

    The poem as reproduced in the regimental history
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    Click image for larger version  Name:	poem 2.jpeg Views:	14 Size:	61.4 KB ID:	283946
    Last edited by Tatterdemalion; 12-01-2022, 12:34 PM.
    William Hood
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