The Bixby Letter
The American Sacrifice for Constitutional Freedom

     In the early days of the Constitutional government where the distractions of the day weren't seen more than twenty miles from one's home; the news of the nation was slow in coming, and the closest, most, ever got to the center of what made them Americans was through the reading of the newspaper; the attitudes of all kept an ever watchful eye on the direction their politicians were leading them in. Congressional representatives went home regularly with ears open to the local concerns, reporting it all to the very seat of government with an eloquent mouth.

     It was this close scrutiny that maintained a "people over government" mentality. The newspapers would report the corruption of the government in order that the people through selected representation would guide it along in a more republican direction. Revenues got involved and taxes imposed which continued to feed the pockets of interested lobbyists, but depending on the section of the country you happened to be in, life had changed throughout the borders over the greenbacks and who controlled them. Industry became the economic backbone of America and where industry ruled so did the purse strings.

     Agriculture became victim to the industrial might of the North simply by virtue of the factors of volume and productivity. Raw product had no choice but to be shipped north to the textile mills, and bought back upon manufacture for three, four and five times the amount it had been initially sold for. Representative Justin Morrill of Vermont introduced a tariff that more than doubled the tax on dutiable imports. Although this benefited the might of industry in the North, it drove the profitability in the agricultural South down, and the nation went to war.

     The war, historically financed heavily by the Rothschild's, granted loans to both sides of the country and in return demanded exorbitant interest rates, that by 1863 President Lincoln had begun issuing United States interest free notes. The salvation of the national government was not going survive without a means to finance the war, the stubborn and unexpected resistance of the South in the field caused these loans and the interest attached to them to drive down the government's ability to continue. This executive decision to side step the world bankers would later cost the president his life.

     The volunteers were called forth and the United States began raising a volunteer army, the size of which had never been witnessed before on the American continent. The states were called on for manpower quotas and recruiting stations were established everywhere. Cities, towns, and small hamlets between, signed men and boys, forming companies of fathers, sons, uncles and cousins. Entire communities became devoid of their young men. The central government had labeled it a rebellion, the Southern States a revolution.

     In Massachusetts as in all other parts of the country, mothers had lost their entire families to the growing armies that were organized. All able bodied men eighteen and over had been enlisted and without established means of identification during these early days of the nation, many who had been fifteen and sixteen had gotten away with passing for eighteen. Three years later, many mothers no longer had a family that was coming home after the war. Some sons having died on the field of battle; others, dying in camp from disease and still others having been captured by their enemy, passed on, a thousand miles distant among strangers holding them captive as prisoners of war.

     One such family came to the attention of President Abraham Lincoln courtesy of the Massachusetts State Adjutant's Office and Governor John Andrew. At the time, Mrs. Lydia Bixby had been known to give five of her sons to the Union cause. It had been reported her son Charles had met his death upon the battlefield at Fredericksburg; another, Oliver during the engagements at Petersburg. Henry had been reported killed at Gettysburg. Edward and George, also reported killed had been very much alive, however; having deserted to the Confederate army.

     The news of which, having gotten to the President, caused him to pen a letter during the post election with his own heart felt words to the mother:


Executive Mansion,

Washington, Nov. 21, 1864

To Mrs Bixby, Boston, Mass.

Dear Madam:

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant-General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from a grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours very sincerely and respectfully,

A. Lincoln.

     Although the facts were later discovered to be less than perfect, the loss to the mother at 15 Dover Street in Boston was typically common throughout every state of the Union. Towns that were proud to enlist entire companies of soldiers in 1861 were grief stricken when a small handful came home, if any, by 1865. These small towns became grave yards, memorials to a generation lost in blood.

     The cross roads of our national freedom had been paid for dearly by the sacrifice of such personal calamity. With the sudden realization of how heinous war can be, it would learn to adapt more conservatively where so many would not lose all it had again. Mrs. Lydia Bixby among thousands of others understood what freedom was bought for. For the love of country, it had been taken from their homes, never to return to its peace and tranquility again.

     * This letter to Mrs Lydia Bixby is read in the opening scenes of "Saving Private Ryan" courtesy of film director Steven Spielberg.

Dan (Aldie) Daniel Moran
© 2005

Editors Note: Mr.Moran is a feature writer on the writers staff. He may be contacted with your questions, ideas and requests at