Skip to main content.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Note: Part One of "We Shall Meet, But We Shall Miss Him" was posted on April 30, 2008

A River Flows; It Flows To The Sea....

When 2nd Lieutenant John William Grout of the 15th Massachusetts Infantry was shot while in the middle of the Potomac River on October 21, 1861, trying to cross back over toward Ballís Bluff to further assist his men in Company H, he sank beneath the water and disappeared from view.


His body was probably submerged for two to three days when the buildup of gases in decaying tissue would have made it rise to the surface. His back would have initially been the only part of the body visible to an observerís eye, his head, arms, and legs still submerged. The Potomac would have caught Groutís body in the grasp of its swift current and floated it along on a 12-day, thirty-five mile journey toward Washington.


The body would have been swept through Great Falls, where the river has carved multiple channels through barriers of solid rock, and thunders through a series of incremental twenty-foot drops, creating the greatest natural lowering of a river in the eastern part of the country. Itís an area wildly dangerous, claiming an average of seven drowning victims each year, an area that canít be navigated by boats, and where George Washington supervised construction of a canal as a bypass.



Beyond Great Falls the river would have carried Grout along, past Georgetown and the Key Bridge,

past what is now Roosevelt Island,

past the great yellow mansion on a hill that is Arlington House,

under the Memorial Bridge, which leads to Arlington National Cemetery, had the bridge been standing at the time,

past the obelisk, which honors the Father of our country, and which was still under construction in 1861,

until it was washed against the shore near where the Long Bridge was to be constructed in 1865. That bridge is more familiar to us today as the 14th Street Bridge, a structure that carries traffic between the District and Virginia, and is most familiar as the place where an Air Florida jetliner crashed through the ice in January, 1982 shortly after takeoff, killing all but 5 of its 79 passengers.


Groutís bloated remains were recovered along with those of five others on November 5th, close to two weeks after the fiasco at Ballís Bluff. That he performed the simple task of his ensuring his name was inscribed on an article of clothing allowed for identification and return to his family at Worcester, Mass.

We shall meet, but we shall miss him.
There will be one vacant chair.
We shall linger to caress him,
While we breathe our evening prayer.


just another dead yankee. Big deal!!

Posted by Jerry Brewer at Friday, October 21, 2011 14:45:28

The Civil War was,in a sense, a 2nd and true birth of our nation, ending the slavery dispute, even tho a century of stubborn racism followed. It took furtrher laws to stop it, for all save psychopaths who live only to kill a (wo)man for the color of his(her)skin.
Confederate soldiers should have all been prosecuted for rioting & murder , and dealt with as such, not as combatants of a foreign power.

Posted by Paul Wilson at Tuesday, November 06, 2012 10:18:10

Add Comment