“The Vacant Chair”


"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


  • Columbia Stellar Quartet, "The Vacant Chair" (Columbia A1808, 1915)
  • Frank Coombs, "The Vacant Chair" (Columbia A913, 1910)
  • Byron G. Harlan, "The Vacant Chair" (CYL: Edison 8535, 1903)
  • Charles Harrison, "The Vacant Chair" (Resona 75074, 1920)
  • Frank & James McCravy, "The Vacant Chair" (Brunswick 4455, 1929; Supertone 2024-S, 1930; rec. 1928)
  • McKee Trio, "Vacant Chair" (Victor 18230, 1917)
  • New Lost City Ramblers, "The Vacant Chair" (on NLCREP4)
  • Shannon Four, "The Vacant Chair" (Pathe 20606, c. 1921)
  • Elizabeth Spencer, "The Vacant Chair" (Edison 1713, n.d.)


  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


Author: Words: Henry Washburn/Music: George F. Root
Earliest date: 1861
Found in: US(So)