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[388] a battle. We have carried these rifles on our shoulders lately, and it is wearing the men down fast. [The telescopic rifles weighed from fifteen to fifty pounds.]


Whilst asleep in a barn, on one occasion, with men of his own and other companies, Whittemore's rifle was stolen from him. This happened a few days before the battle of Antietam; and at the commencement of that engagement he was unarmed, and at liberty to be a non-combatant. He was urged, if not actually ordered, to remain in the rear. This he could not do. He went coolly toward the front, looking for a weapon. An officer saw him take a gun from a fallen soldier and calmly load and fire until he was hit and instantly killed. This occurred in the woods adjoining the corn-field where Sedgwick's division met with its heavy losses. The next day, when the ground came into possession of the Federal army, his body was carefully and tenderly buried by his comrades, with a headboard inscribed, ‘Sergeant Whittemore.’ It was soon after removed to Mount Auburn. There it rests in a spot that was a favorite resort of his while in college. It is situated on the slope of Harvard Hill,—an enclosure endeared by family associations, and which he was careful to adorn and keep in order.

In view of his exceeding worth to others, and as we think of all he might have been had he remained with us longer, we cannot help feeling and saying, ‘George Whittemore died before his time.’ Yet it is only in this view, and only as we thus think, that we are allowed to deem his death premature. His life had already reached roundness and completeness; his spirit was already trained to follow in its further growth its own aspirations. The memory of that spirit remains with us still,—a reality without a shadow on its clearness. And yet, alas! there are those who will sometimes ask,

But who shall so forecast the years,
     And find in loss a gain to match?
Or reach a hand through time to catch
     The far-off interest of tears?

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