I thought at first it was a dirty smudge on the window glass. But when I went up close, I saw it was writing — delicate, almost calligraphy. Deciphering the words was like a puzzle, but it got easier as I got used to the handwriting: “Corporal J.S. Watkins, Company K-7th Regiment NJV. Wounded at the Battle of Willamsburg, May 5, 1862. Died May 31, 1862 at Fortress Monroe, VA”
Clearly it had to do with a Civil War soldier. Who had written it? Why on a window? The answers were sobering — a grieving mother, learning of her young son’s death, slowly scratching this small epitaph on a window that would be seen every day by family and friends down through the decades. The young man’s life was cut short in service to his country. 19 years old. His memory lives on in this window 150 years later.