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Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 2, page 105, May 18-19, 1851

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Identifier: DX01020419

Title: Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 2, page 105, May 18-19, 1851

Description: Describes attending a military funeral on Governors Island.


sought the embrace of death’s half brother Sleep, the man above died.

No more for him this world with its joys, sorrows and thoughts. All will rise in the morrow to their labours; — he by that simple, strange, awful act hath become superior to all of them. The poorest clown does a great act in dying; — day commonplace till Great Death renders its spirit-sister wiser than All of us. A tall fellow was the man; — (on the morrow I saw his body) not thirty; and Tipperary born. No kith nor kin here to mourn for him; little I trow do those who knew him, a child; picture him lying with rigid cold face in the silent midnight room. He had deserted from the British Canadian service, (common enow); and meeting his old Colonel in Broadway had, mechanically saluted him — it had been drilled into him. That is all I know of the man, save his name — Fabin.

19. Monday. Reading [Alphonse de] Lamartine’s “Gironde” &c till [William] Barth and I crossed first to Brooklyn, then New York. Met [Charles F.] Anderson. / A solitary ramble on the Battery while Barth visited the Margaretta [Duff]. Joining me, we went to Robinson, and from thence to [177] Canal. Homer Hall out with us, we parting with him in Brooklyn, and re-crossing to the [Governor’s] Island, I having desire to witness a military funeral. Snug dinner, shaver bath &c. A plain red-brown hued coffin, with escort of soldiers in blue arriving at the Hospital gate; a little procession formed, the band play a sad tune, and they march on to the little, fenced-in, sea-side burial ground, wherein the fresh tall grass blades quiver in the sunlight. Forming around a shallow grave, the commanding officer reads aloud and uncovered, (as are the spectators) the beautiful burial service. That done, to the words of command, three several volleys are fired over his grave; and then, to a lively, quick step the men defile off. Anon we encountered Creesey, another, and an auld Scotsman, who had looked on Napoleon, talked of [Horatio] Nelson and been far in his joureneyings. He, getting keys took us to Castle Williams (the old park-pie-resembling fort.”) Mounting to the summit, not forgetting a glance at a furnace for heating common-shot red hot below, we from this stern, still Bellona’s temple looked out, mounted on the huge cannon, which guard the ramparts. A fair

Rights: NoC-US


Dates: 1851-05-18

Type(s): Diary

Maker/Creator: Gunn, Thomas Butler, 1826-1903

Subjects: Funeral rites and ceremonies
Governors Island (New York County, N.Y.)
Armed Forces
Battery Park (New York, N.Y.)
Castle Williams (New York, N.Y.)


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