Letter from GEORGE PERKINS MARSH to HIRAM POWERS, dated August 7, 1863.
You will not doubt that we heartily sympathise in your affliction for the loss of
a child so full of intellectual promise, and
who must have been doubly endeared to you as also a child of suffering. We have
always remembered her with interest from our first observation of her infant talent,
and that interest was increased by all that we have known and heard of her in later
years. I suppose you have for years not expected that she would enjoy length of days
or confirmed health, but no considerations, of this sort, I
am well aware, can much mitigate the sorrow of parents for the early death of a child, nor, besides the consolations of religion, is relief to be expected from anything but time, which softens, though it can never heal, an affliction which can be estimated and understood only by those who know by experience how hard a burden it is to bear.
You believe in the providence of God, and I suppose you have attained to that belief,
as I have, not but argument or by submission to the authority of others, but by
observing the overruling of that Providence in the events of your own life. I find
and am fully persuaded that my history has been guided by a wiser than I. You have
the same experience, no
doubt, but neither you nor I can see why, while we have been spared and prospered, our children, who ought by the course of nature to have closed our eyes, have suffered and been removed to another world. We must have faith that the Being who, we know, has done all things well for us, has done the best also for them, hard as it is to understand how pain and sickness and death can be best for those who have not brought these things upon themselves by folly or by sin, & who are called upon to leave the world before they have had time to enjoy its pleasures, to profit by its lessons, or to be led astray by its temptations.
Your desire to return to your native land and to carry the bones of your dead with
you must be
much lessened by the events of the last few years, & I too feel as if I had no longer a country. The losses and wounds we could bear, but the demoralisation implied in the indulgence with which this rebellion has been treated by the people under the inspiration of a government whose members are not virtuous enough to detest crime in others seems to me a voluntary renunciation of every thing which made me proud of the name of American.
Meade, I think, is a second McClellan. Perhaps Halleck held him back, but as yet it appears that his own treachery or pusillanimity alone prevented him from crushing Lee on his retreat.
You are quite right about the photograph. Mrs. M.
only asked it because her friends are constantly begging it. Take your own time for
[The following appears at the top of the page beginning "Turin Aug 7 1863"] bust, & we shall be entirely satisfied
With kindest regards to Mrs Powers & well as yourself I am yours trulyG. P. Marsh
H Powers Esq
References in this letter:
Florence Powers, Hiram and Elizabeth Powers' sixth child, was born in Florence in 1846 and died there in 1863.
Major General George Meade (1815-1872) was appointed commander of the Army of the Potomac on June 28, 1863, three days before the battle of Gettysburg began. Like Generals McClellan and Hooker before him, he hesitated in following up a military advantage and allowed General Robert E. Lee and his Confederate army to retreat without pursuit after they had been defeated at Gettysburg.
Union forces under Major General Henry Halleck took Corinth, Mississippi, on May 30, 1862, a move which contributed to the Confederate evacuation of Memphis, Tennessee, on June 6.
Powers, as a gesture of friendship to Caroline Crane Marsh (1816-1901) and her husband, George Perkins Marsh, American ambassador to Italy, had her sit for a bust in June 1862. The marble replica made from the plaster cast, presented to the Marshes in late 1864 or early 1865, is now in the Fleming Museum of the University of Vermont.