17 July 1862: “The coffin was wrapped with the flag & two handsome wreaths upon it.”

Item description: Letter, 17 July 1862, from Ann Claypole Meares to Catherine Douglass DeRosset Meares, the widow of Col. Gaston Meares (3rd. North Carolina Infantry Regiment). Col. Meares was killed on 1 July 1862 at the Battle of Malvern Hill. In this letter, Claypole Meares sends condolences, relates what she knows about Col. Meares’s fatal wounds, and describes preparations for his burial.

Item citation: From the Meares and DeRosset Family #499, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

July 17th /62

I wanted to write you dear sister Cate a fort-night ago when I first learned your terrible loss – but I could not comfort you at all, that I well knew, & even if I could have, my letter would have been an [intrusion?] I fear more than any thing else – for if I judge rightly, all you would wish at such a time would be perfect quiet & no intruders whatever, or any nature. God in his mysterious wisdom & love has seen fit to make your burden heavy, but I grant he may in his mercy fit you to bear it & to [say?] it is well. We are short-sighted – & him alone can brighten this heavy & awful cloud – oh dear sister – what can I say to comfort you. nothing I know. I only write to assure you of my deepest sympathy & to beg you if there is any thing you would like done at the cemetery to let me know.

Caddie has seen you seen you in this & told you all about brother Gaston’s death. he was standing with his hat in his hand, & his sword under his arm, & was walking back & forth in a little prominence, from when his men had begged him to come down. & he had once done so, & taken a seat, but feeling anxious went up again. when turning his head a little back, the ball struck his him just above the left eye I think, & fractured the skull, he was immediately removed by two men & carefully attended to, no one heard him say any thing. he only put his hand up to his head where the wound was received. & Caddie says with the exception of a little seriousness (which he thinks arose from the brother Gaston’s knowing the folly of the charge he was to make, & impossibility of taking the battery as he told Hill) his face was perfectly lovely & calm. He was well attended to in Richmond, & when he was brought here not the slightest thing disagreeable could be noticed for I even put my face to the box itself & I had prepared some beautiful flowers, one large wreath of cape jessamine & another small one of small white flowers, & six or eight beautiful bouquets, also a cross which I put under the [?], & filled with flowers, I feel that you would like to know these little things, I would & that nothing was neglected. his grave besides [?] that [?] with [?] jessamine, & indeed was very beautiful, Walker having made Quigley have the [?] ready, & as I said before with the flowers upon that – it was all you could wish. The coffin was wrapped with the flag & two handsome wreaths upon it. The pall bearers were the [?] & the funeral was one of the largest I have noticed in some time when we remember the few friends at home. I am going out to the cemetery in a few evenings & will think of you & carry fresh flowers. This sister Cate must be a comfort to be able to visit his grave. when you think how many poor wives have not even this, but it is mockery & presumption you feel, to say every thing is a comfort. God will comfort you. I hope your children are well. Any thing that you would like Walker or myself to attend to let us know & we will with great pleasure do so. He sends much love & I heard him say he wanted to write, but could not to save his life. he has felt much for you & been very considerate as far as he could think of all you would desire true it was little. My love to [Alice?]. Kiss the children. Yours with love


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2 Responses to 17 July 1862: “The coffin was wrapped with the flag & two handsome wreaths upon it.”

  1. Janet McCabe says:

    the word (in at least two cases) is cemetery, not country

    • dcbh says:

      Great eye. You’re exactly right. I have corrected the transcriptions. If you notice anything else, please do let us know. We were having a little trouble with this particular transcription. Thank you for your help!