“The Vacant Chair”

Author: Words: Henry Washburn/Music: George F. Root
Earliest date: 1861
Keywords: Civilwar death burial mourning family
Found in: US(So)


"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." The family remembers its beloved Willie, who now lies dead in a narrow grave, killed for his country


Ironically, this song for a dead soldier was written in early 1861, when few battles had been fought. At this time, a few tens of thousands were mourning their lost soldier boys; four years later, those who had lost a loved one or friends would number in the millions (total losses in the Civil War exceeded 600,000, with the bulk of the losses coming in 1862-1864). - RBW



  1. Randolph 251, "The Vacant Chair" (1 text)
  2. Silber-CivWar, pp. 30-31, "The Vacant Chair" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Silber-FSWB, p. 269 "The Vacant Chair" (1 text)
  5. Roud #7714
  6. BI, R251