One of the charms of Robert Merry’s Museum (1841-1872) is the letters column, which introduced subscribers to each other and to readers in every century after that.  So as the Civil War progressed, editors occasionally informed subscribers of the activities of fellow subscribers serving in the military.

Adelbert Older was a popular subscriber and a budding poet.  He enlisted in the Union army early in the War, but was discharged due to illness.  When he enlisted again, his younger brother enlisted with him.  Both died in 1864, after action at Turner’s Farm, Virginia.  Adelbert lived long enough to be taken prisoner; he died in Richmond, probably of his wounds.  He was not quite 24.

Adelbert was the only subscriber to Merry’s Museum to receive a memorial page in the magazine:  one of his poems, a poem about him, and a stanza from the then-popular “Mustered Out,” by the Rev. William E. Miller.

On this late incarnation of a day originally set aside to remember fallen Union soldiers, let’s think of Private Adelbert Older of the 36th Wisconsin Volunteers.

The zephyrs, idle vagrants,
Come filled with sweetest fragrance;
They shake the blossoms down in showers,
And steal the fragrant breaths of flowers.
The bee, the bright-winged rover,
Is wandering all over
The fields of blooming clover;
He dives deep down in the lilies' bells,
And sips the sweets from their hidden cells.

The brook steals down the meadow,
Through sunshine and through shower,
By buttercups and daisies,
In deep and shady places;
Then, with a sound of mimic wrath,
It leaps along its pebbly path.
Beyond, the green-clothed hilltops lie,
And smile to see the smiling sky.

Deep in the leafy woods,
The shady solitudes,
The timid little rabbit peeps,
The squirrel on the branches leaps.
Each tree stands dim and solemn,
Like some old temple's column,
And through those arches vast and dim,
The wind is chanting a grand old hymn.
We half forget the primal curse,
And peace reigns through the universe.

–Adelbert Older, May 21, 1863





              I'm mustered out!
God of our fathers, our freedom prolong,
And tread down rebellion, oppression, and wrong!
Oh! land of earth's hopes, on thy blood-reddened sod
I die for the Nation, the Union, and God!
              I'm mustered out!
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