"In our crushing bereavement"

Mary Todd Lincoln to Julia Ann Sprigg, May 29, 1862, Mary Todd Lincoln Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

My Dear Mrs. Sprigg:
Your very welcome letter was received two weeks since, and my sadness & ill health have alone prevented my replying to it. We have met with so overwhelming an affliction in the death of our beloved Willie a being too precious for earth, that I am so completely unnerved, that I can scarcely command myself to write.

What would I give to see you, & talk to you in our crushing bereavement, if any one’s presence could afford comfort—it would be yours. You were always a good friend & dearly have I loved you. All that human skill could do was done for our sainted boy, I fully believe the severe illness, he passed through, now, almost two years since, was but a warning to us that one so pure, was not to remain long here and at the same time, he was lent us a little longer—to try us & wean us from a world, whose chains were fastening around us & when the blow came, it found us so unprepared to meet it. Our home is very beautiful, the grounds around us are enchanting, the world still smiles & pays homage, yet the charm is dispelled—everything appears a mockery, the idolized one is not with us, he has fulfilled his mission and we are left desolate. When I think over his short but happy childhood, how much comfort he always was to me, and how fearfully I always found my hopes concentrating on so good a boy as he was—when I can bring myself to realize that he has indeed passed away my question to myself is “can life be endured?”

Mary Todd Lincoln to Julia Ann Sprigg, May 29, 1862, Mary Todd Lincoln Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

This blog complements the Library of Congress exhibition, “The Civil War in America.” This series of posts chronicles the sacrifices and accomplishments of those—from both the North and South—whose lives were lost or affected by the events of 1861–1865. To learn more about the object featured in this blog entry, visit the online exhibition.

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