To Betsy Wells Hall

*Post written by Theresa Oser, an English 601 student, at the University of Southern Indiana.

My archival folder contained Civil War era poems written by Betsy Wells Hall.  They were written in a script-line longhand on lined paper and were bound with cardboard and string.  Betsy abhorred slavery and everything it stood for.  She also detested the war and the terrible loss of life it incurred.  She knew all too well the terrible effect this had on the enlisted men and their families.  I am sure if she could have had her way, slavery would have been abolished without a single hanging or shot being fired.  Liberty for all was vastly important to Betsy.  A true patriot, she wrote on the necessity of freedom, the wrongs of slavery, and that abolition was essential and what was best for her country.  The poem I chose had no title. It spoke of the death of a young sailor, obviously a personal loss for Betsy.  She received few details of his passing, and this weighed on her.  This poem, along with others, inspired my own poem, an ode, of sorts, to Betsy.

To Betsy Wells Hall

Was he your brother? Your son?

The man, the sailor who died?

You reached out with your words,

Tears in the form of words

To touch others,

Letting them know

How you were devastated

By this terrible war

And of your young sailor?

You know only that he died

You know not where or when.

Heart broken,

You wept

Not only for yours,

But for all who perished

In this terrible war.

I know you miss him,

His empty pillow a weary reminder

That you know not where he rests,

Yet you feel him near.

You remember, too, the other

Mothers, sisters, wives

Who shed tears for their men,

Victims of this terrible war.

But take heart, dear Betsy,

For though he is gone

His death was not in vain.

For those held in bondage

Have at last been set free

And our country is whole again.

He did his part

And the sacrifice he made

Helped end this terrible war.

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