May 30th, 2011
Here’s the text of the famous 1884 Memorial Day speech by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., the Boston-born Civil War veteran who served on the US Supreme Court.
His parents were the doctor-poet Oliver Wendell Holmes and abolitionist Amelia Lee Jackson. He enlisted in the army in his senior year at Harvard College.
Of Lowell note is that his best friend in college was Henry Livermore Abbott (1842-1864) of Lowell, a highly respected Union officer who was killed in the Battle of the Wilderness in Virginia in May 1864. He was posthumously promoted to Brigadier General at 22 years old.
Henry Livermore Abbott (1822-1864) is buried in the Lowell Cemetery.
January 24th, 2011
“. . . There was at the time of the Civil War, a group of young men and women hardly more than boys and girls, who frequented our house, played croquet on the lawn and bowled in the long, low bowling alley; old when I remember it, and covered from chimney top to threshhold with trumpet vines and rambler roses. It faced the broad walk which ran through the garden, bordered on each side with hollyhocks and a variety of old-fashioned flowers and shrubs . . . .
“Henry Livermore Abbott was one of the boys who wrote his name in chalk on the walk of the bowling alley, and later wrote it large in the annals of the Civil War. Him alone of the young men I can remember. He was wounded early and sent home on a furlough; our garden was a pleasant place to convalesce in. He was a graduate of Harvard in the class of 1860. His brother Ned was killed in the battle of Cedar Mountain. Henry fought in the seven days fight before Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg, in which his regiment won laurels, and fell in the Battle of the Wilderness: wounded three times, he did not leave the ranks. He was a lad of great promise.
“There is a quaint red leather box in the house, containing his photograph and clippings from many newspapers. Many poems were written, inspired by his bravery and the love of his friends for him. In removing a photograph of him from its frame, I found concealed behind it a lock of hair carefully preserved in tissue paper. Which of my sisters put it there I can only guess. No story of our house, however brief, is thinkable that did not bring him to mind. By our family he was never forgotten. Every tribute or poem written after his death, his photograph in uniform before he left, and the first summons to appear at the Armory are still treasured. His grave and that of his brother Ned have been decorated by some member of the family every Memorial Day for sixty years or more. . . .”
—Joseph A. Nesmith, “The Old Nesmith House and Some of Its Guests” (August, 1931) Published by the John Nesmith House Alumni Foundation, ca. 1990.