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Announcement to the Army of the Death of President Harrison

April 05, 1841


It is with feelings of the deepest sorrow that the Secretary of War announces to the Army the death of the President of the United States. William Henry Harrison is no more. His long and faithful services in many subordinate but important stations, his recent elevation to the highest in honor and power, and the brief term allotted to him in the enjoyment of it are circumstances of themselves which must awaken the liveliest sympathy in every bosom. But these are personal considerations; the dispensation is heaviest and most afflicting on public grounds. This great calamity has befallen the country at a period of general anxiety for its present, and some apprehension for its future, condition at a time when it is most desirable that all its high offices should be filled and all its high trusts administered in harmony, wisdom, and vigor. The generosity of character of the deceased, the conspicuous honesty of his principles and purposes, together with the skill and firmness with which he maintained them in all situations, had won for him the affection and confidence of his countrymen; but at the moment when by their voice he was raised to a station in the discharge of the powers and duties of which the most beneficent results might justly have been anticipated from his great experience, his sound judgment, the high estimation in which he was held by the people, and his unquestioned devotion to the Constitution and to the Union, it has pleased an all-wise but mysterious Providence to remove him suddenly from that and every other earthly employment.

While the officers and soldiers of the Army share in the general grief which these considerations so naturally and irresistibly inspire, they will doubtless be penetrated with increased sensibility and feel a deeper concern in testifying in the manner appropriate to them the full measure of a nation's gratitude for the eminent services of the departed patriot and in rendering just and adequate honors to his memory because he was himself a soldier, and an approved one, receiving his earliest lessons in a camp, and, when in riper years called to the command of armies, illustrating the profession of arms by his personal qualities and contributing largely by his successes to the stock of his country's glory.

It is to be regretted that the suddenness of the emergency has made it necessary to announce this sad event in the absence of the Vice-President from the seat of Government; but the greatest confidence is felt that he will cordially approve the sentiments expressed, and that he will in due time give directions for such further marks of respect not prescribed by the existing regulations of the Army as may be demanded by the occasion.

JOHN BELL, Secretary of War.




Washington, April 7, 1841.

The death of the President of the United States having been officially announced from the War Department, the Major-General Commanding in Chief communicates to the Army the melancholy intelligence with feelings of the most profound sorrow. The long, arduous, and faithful military services in which President Harrison has been engaged since the first settlement of the Western country, from the rank of a subaltern to that of a commander in chief, are too well known to require a recital of them here. It is sufficient to point to the fields of Tippecanoe, the banks of the Miami, and the Thames, in Upper Canada, to recall to many of the soldiers of the present Army the glorious results of some of his achievements against the foes of his country, both savage and civilized.

The Army has on former occasions been called upon to mourn the loss of distinguished patriots who have occupied the Presidential chair, but this is the first time since the adoption of the Constitution it has to lament the demise of a President while in the actual exercise of the high functions of the Chief Magistracy of the Union.

The members of the Army, in common with their fellow-citizens of all classes, deeply deplore this national bereavement; but although they have lost a friend ever ready to protect their interests, his bright example in the paths of honor and glory still remains for their emulation.

The funeral honors directed to be paid by the troops in paragraph 523 of the General Regulations will be duly observed, and the troops at the several stations will be paraded at 10 o'clock a.m., when this order will be read, after which all labors for the day will cease; the national flag will be displayed at half-staff; at dawn of day thirteen guns will be fired, besides the half-hour guns as directed by the Regulations, and at the close of the day a national salute. The standards, guidons, and colors of the several regiments will be put in mourning for the period of six months, and the officers will wear the usual badge of mourning on the left arm above the elbow and on the hilt of the sword for the same period.

By order of Alexander Macomb, Major-General Commanding in Chief:

R. JONES, Adjutant-General .

John Tyler, Announcement to the Army of the Death of President Harrison Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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