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Bill Thayer

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The text that follows is reproduced from (the report of the) Third Annual Reunion of the Association of the Graduates of the United States Military Academy, June 14th, 1872.

 p43  William J. Hamilton
No. 2229 — Class of 1868.
Died Jan. 22, 1872, at Bristol, Pa.: Aged 26.

Lieutenant William J. Hamilton after some two years of declining health, caused by a disease of the lungs, was attacked by spinal neuralgia, and after suffering the most intense agony for nearly two months, quietly and peacefully died.

Strong and zealous in honor, with a delicate sense, and full appreciation of all its obligations; an affectionate nature, true as steel and lasting as life in its attachments; he was as dearly and fondly loved as ever man could hope to be.

Prominent in his Class for his good judgment, bright mind, genial disposition, and many endearing qualities, he secured a brighter promise for his future life than is accorded to most graduates of the Academy.

He joined his battery at Fort McHenry, but the climate not agreeing with him, he obtained a leave, and tried the cool refreshing atmosphere of Northern New York. From there the charming, healthful winter climate of Florida; but no cure was effected, and the fresh, pure, dry air of the plains near the Rocky Mountains was resorted to; but an Allwise Providence had decreed that the fondly cherished hope of his recovery should never be realized, and he only reached home to die.

Endowed with superior abilities; possessing a chivalrous spirit; a man of undaunted courage, but thoughtful and humane as well as brave, his knightly character will become more precious, and his memory more sacredly loved each year, and his name will always stand in distinguished brightness on the roll of true men. His classmate — Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Richard H. Savage — has paid the following tribute to his memory:​a

"The loved and lost I pledge to‑night,

With willing heart and clouded eye;

A feeling lingers strange and grand,

For sure his spirit lingers nigh.

I know the poor dust quiet sleeps

Where buds and brightening flowers are;

The soul, all free and chainless now,

Has passed beyond yon burning star.

Oh! surely memory jealous keeps

In store our boy love of the past;

A voice familiar whispers low,

'Not lost, my friend, but home at last.'

 p44  And never may I lose this truth,

Which swells with echoes sad, sublime,

This falling wail, now dying soft

In murmurs on the shore of time.

Bright, young, and brave, the keener ear

To hear the Master's solemn call,

The first-fruits of the harvest rich

Are ripening to their early fall.

The better part of life was his,

Who missed the cares and bitter pains;

Nor lingered long to sadly count

So many losses, so few gains.

He sleeps; the dear flag throws a glow

Of tender color on his grave.

Long may his name be held in heart

Among the tender, true, and believe,

Who here below on duty still

With steadfast hope the summons wait,

Till time shall bring us face to face

The comrades old of Sixty-eight."

(Lieutenant Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.William P. Clark.)

Thayer's Note:

a But see the obituary of his classmate Orsemus Boyd, written by the same Richard Savage not many years later.

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Page updated: 12 Jan 14