The Vacant Chair, a well-known Civil War song

On a recent visit to Waterford, Maine, a singer was performing many Civil War era tunes at PieTree Orchards. By special request, he performed a song about a well-known young man from Worcester who was killed at the Battle of Ball’s Bluff in October 1861. It was a devastating battle for the families of the Worcester area. There were almost 500 killed, wounded or captured from the 15th Massachusetts regiment. John Tercyak is an accomplished musician and has published many CDs of his performances.

This song, which first appeared in the Worcester Spy around Thanksgiving 1861, was written to commemorate the death of Lt. John William Grout of the 15th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, who was killed at the Battle of Ball’s Bluff. Although it had been set to music at least once, It had no success until the famous George F. Root took it in hand and wrote this tune to accompany it.