President Lincoln’s letter of condolence was delivered to Lydia Bixby on November 25, 1864, and was republished in newspapers around the country. The text read as follows.
Washington, November 21, 1864
To Mrs. Bixby, Boston, Mass.
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 the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to 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,
Lincoln’s Bixby letter of condolence, as published in the Cleveland Daily Leader, November 28, 1864
Letter from the President to a Poor Widow who has Lost Five Sons by the War
A version of the handwritten Bixby letter, later released