Silence! Ground arms! Kneel all! Caps off! Old Massa's going to pray. Strangle the fool that dares to scoff: Attention!—it's his way. Appealing from his native sod, In forma pauperis to God. "Lay bare Thine arm! Stretch forth Thy rod: Amen!"—That's Stonewall's Way.
He's in the saddle now. Fall in! Steady! the whole brigade. Hill's at the ford, cut off; we'll win His way out, ball and blade. What matter if our shoes are worn? What matter if our feet are torn? Quick step! we're with him before morn: That's Stonewall Jackson's Way.
The sun's bright lances rout the mists Of morning; and—By George! Here's Longstreet, struggling in the lists, Hemmed in an ugly gorge. Pope and his Dutchmen!—whipped before. "Bay'nets and grape!" hear Stonewall roar. Charge, Stuart! Pay off Ashby's score, In Stonewall Jackson's Way.
Ah, Maiden! wait and watch and yearn For news of Stonewall's band. Ah, Widow! read, with eyes that burn, That ring upon thy hand. Ah, Wife! sew on, pray on, hope on! Thy life shall not be all forlorn. The foe had better ne'er been born, That gets in Stonewall's Way.
JOHN WILLIAMSON PALMER
* * * * *
Up from the meadows rich with corn, Clear in the cool September morn.
The clustered spires of Frederick stand Green-walled by the hills of Maryland.
Round about them orchards sweep. Apple and peach trees fruited deep,
Fair as a garden of the Lord To the eyes of the famished rebel horde,
On that pleasant morn of the early fall When Lee marched over the mountain wall,—
Over the mountains, winding down, Horse and foot into Frederick town.
Forty flags with their silver stars, Forty flags with their crimson bars,
Flapped in the morning wind: the sun Of noon looked down, and saw not one.
Tip rose old Barbara Frietchie then, Bowed with her fourscore years and ten;
Bravest of all in Frederick town, She took up the flag the men hauled down;
In her attic-window the staff she set, To show that one heart was loyal yet.
Up the street came the rebel tread, Stonewall Jackson riding ahead.
Under his slouched hat left and right He glanced: the old flag met his sight.
"Halt!"—the dust-brown ranks stood fast; "Fire!"—out blazed the rifle-blast.
It shivered the window, pane and sash; It rent the banner with seam and gash.
Quick, as it fell, from the broken staff Dame Barbara snatched the silken scarf;
She leaned far out on the window-sill, And shook it forth with a royal will.
"Shoot, if you must, this old gray head, But spare your country's flag," she said.
A shade of sadness, a blush of shame, Over the face of the leader came;
The nobler nature within him stirred To life at that woman's deed and word:
"Who touches a hair of yon gray head Dies like a dog! March on!" he said.
All day long through Frederick street Sounded the tread of marching feet;
All day long that free flag tost Over the heads of the rebel host.
Ever its torn folds rose and fell On the loyal winds that loved it well;
And through the hill-gaps sunset light Shone over it with a warm good-night.
Barbara Frietchie's work is o'er. And the rebel rides on his raids no more.
Honor to her! and let a tear Fall, for her sake, on Stonewall's bier.
Over Barbara Frietchie's grave, Flag of freedom and union, wave!
Peace and order and beauty draw Round thy symbol of light and law;
And ever the stars above look down On thy stars below in Frederick town!
JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER.
* * * * *
CAVALRY SONG. FROM "ALICE OF MONMOUTH."
Our good steeds snuff the evening air, Our pulses with their purpose tingle; The foeman's fires are twinkling there; He leaps to hear our sabres jingle! HALT! Each carbine send its whizzing ball: Now, cling! clang! forward all, Into the fight!
Dash on beneath the smoking dome: Through level lightnings gallop nearer! One look to Heaven! No thoughts of home: The guidons that we bear are dearer. CHARGE! Cling! clang! forward all! Heaven help those whose horses fall: Cut left and right!
They flee before our fierce attack! They fall! they spread in broken surges. Now, comrades, bear our wounded back, And leave the foeman to his dirges. WHEEL! The bugles sound the swift recall: Cling! clang! backward all! Home, and good night!
EDMUND CLARENCE STEDMAN.
* * * * *
Our bugles sound gayly. To horse and away! And over the mountains breaks the day; Then ho! brothers, ho! for the ride or the fight, There are deeds to be done ere we slumber to-night! And whether we fight or whether we fall By sabre-stroke or rifle-ball, The hearts of the free will remember us yet, And our country, our country will never forget!
Then mount and away! let the coward delight To be lazy all day and safe all night; Our joy is a charger, flecked with foam, And the earth is our bed and the saddle our home! And whether we fight, etc.
See yonder the ranks of the traitorous foe, And bright in the sunshine bayonets glow! Breathe a prayer, but no sigh; think for what you would fight; Then charge! with a will, boys, and God for the right! And whether we fight, etc.
We have gathered again the red laurels of war; We have followed the traitors fast and far; But some who rose gayly this morn with the sun Lie bleeding and pale on the field they have won! But whether we fight or whether we fall By sabre-stroke or rifle-ball, The hearts of the free will remember us yet, And our country, our country will never forget!
ROSSITER W. RAYMOND.
* * * * *
KEARNY AT SEVEN PINES.[A]
[Footnote A: Major-General Philip Kearny, killed at the battle of Chantilly, September 1, 1862.]
So that soldierly legend is still on its journey,— That story of Kearny who knew not to yield! 'Twas the day when with Jameson, fierce Berry, and Birney, Against twenty thousand he rallied the field. Where the red volleys poured, where the clamor rose highest, Where the dead lay in clumps through the dwarf oak and pine, Where the aim from the thicket was surest and nighest,— No charge like Phil Kearny's along the whole line.
When the battle went ill, and the bravest were solemn, Near the dark Seven Pines, where we still held our ground, He rode down the length of the withering column, And his heart at our war-cry leapt up with a bound; He snuffed, like his charger, the wind of the powder,— His sword waved us on and we answered the sign: Loud our cheer as we rushed, but his laugh rang the louder, "There's the devil's own fun, boys, along the whole line!"
How he strode his brown steed! How we saw his blade brighten In the one hand still left,—and the reins in his teeth! He laughed like a boy when the holidays heighten. But a soldier's glance shot from his visor beneath. Up came the reserves to the mellay infernal, Asking where to go in,—through the clearing or pine? "O, anywhere! Forward! 'Tis all the same, Colonel: You'll find lovely fighting along the whole line!"
O, evil the black shroud of night at Chantilly, That hid him from sight of his brave men and tried! Foul, foul sped the bullet that clipped the white lily, The flower of our knighthood, the whole army's pride! Yet we dream that he still,—in that shadowy region Where the dead form their ranks at the wan drummer's sign,— Rides on, as of old, down the length of his legion, And the word still is Forward! along the whole line.
EDMUND CLARENCE STEDMAN.
* * * * *
THE GENERAL'S DEATH.
The general dashed along the road Amid the pelting rain; How joyously his bold face glowed To hear our cheers' refrain!
His blue blouse flapped in wind and wet, His boots were splashed with mire, But round his lips a smile was set, And in his eyes a fire.
A laughing word, a gesture kind,— We did not ask for more, With thirty weary miles behind, A weary fight before.
The gun grew light to every man, The crossed belts ceased their stress, As onward to the column's van We watched our leader press.
Within an hour we saw him lie, A bullet in his brain, His manly face turned to the sky, And beaten by the rain.
* * * * *
DIRGE FOB A SOLDIER[A]
[Footnote A: Major-General Philip Kearny.]
Close his eyes; his work is done! What to him is friend or foeman, Rise of moon or set of sun, Hand of man or kiss of woman? Lay him low, lay him low, In the clover or the snow! What cares he? he cannot know; Lay him low!
As man may, he fought his fight, Proved his truth by his endeavor; Let him sleep in solemn night, Sleep forever and forever. Lay him low, lay him low, In the clover or the snow! What cares he? he cannot know; Lay him low!
Fold him in his country's stars, Roll the drum and fire the volley! What to him are all our wars?— What but death-bemocking folly? Lay him low, lay him low, In the clover or the snow! What cares he? he cannot know; Lay him low!
Leave him to God's watching eye; Trust him to the hand that made him. Mortal love weeps idly by; God alone has power to aid him. Lay him low, lay him low, In the clover or the snow! What cares he? he cannot know; Lay him low!
GEORGE HENRY BOKER.
* * * * *
[December 15, 1862.]
'Twas the last fight at Fredericksburg,— Perhaps the day you reck, Our boys, the Twenty-Second Maine, Kept Early's men in check. Just where Wade Hampton boomed away The fight went neck and neck.
All day the weaker wing we held, And held it with a will. Five several stubborn times we charged The battery on the hill, And five times beaten back, re-formed, And kept our column still.
At last from out the centre fight Spurred up a general's aide: "That battery must silenced be!" He cried, as past he sped. Our colonel simply touched his cap, And then, with measured tread,
To lead the crouching line once more The grand old fellow came. No wounded man but raised his head And strove to gasp his name, And those who could not speak nor stir, "God blessed him" just the same.
For he was all the world to us, That hero gray and grim. Right well we knew that fearful slope We'd climb with none but him, Though while his white head led the way We'd charge hell's portals in.
This time we were not half-way up. When, midst the storm of shell, Our leader, with his sword upraised, Beneath our bayonets fell. And, as we bore him back, the foe Set up a joyous yell.
Our hearts went with him. Back we swept, And when the bugle said "Up, charge again!" no man was there But hung his dogged head. "We've no one left to lead us now," The sullen soldiers said.
Just then before the laggard line The colonel's horse we spied, Bay Billy with his trappings on, His nostrils swelling wide, As though still on his gallant back The master sat astride.
Right royally he took the place That was of old his wont, And with a neigh that seemed to say, Above the battle's brunt, "How can the Twenty-Second charge If I am not in front?"
Like statues rooted there we stood, And gazed a little space, Above that floating mane we missed The dear familiar face, But we saw Bay Billy's eye of fire, And it gave us heart of grace.
No bugle-call could rouse us all As that brave sight had done, Down all the battered line we felt A lightning impulse run. Up! up the hill we followed Bill,— And we captured every gun!
And when upon the conquered height Died out the battle's hum, Vainly mid living and the dead We sought our leader dumb. It seemed as if a spectre steed To win that day had come.
And then the dusk and dew of night Fell softly o'er the plain, As though o'er man's dread work of death The angels wept again, And drew night's curtain gently round A thousand beds of pain.
All night the surgeons' torches went, The ghastly rows between,— All night with solemn step I paced The torn and bloody green. But who that fought in the big war Such dread sights have not seen?
At last the morning broke. The lark Sang in the merry skies, As if to e'en the sleepers there It bade awake, and rise! Though naught but that last trump of all Could ope their heavy eyes.
And then once more with banners gay, Stretched out the long brigade. Trimly upon the furrowed field The troops stood on parade, And bravely mid the ranks were closed The gaps the fight had made.
Not half the Twenty-Second's men Were in their place that morn; And Corporal Dick, who yester-noon Stood six brave fellows on, Now touched my elbow in the ranks, For all between were gone.
Ah I who forgets that dreary hour When, as with misty eyes, To call the old familiar roll The solemn sergeant tries,— One feels that thumping of the heart As no prompt voice replies.
And as in faltering tone and slow The last few names were said, Across the field some missing horse Toiled up the weary tread. It caught the sergeant's eye, and quick Bay Billy's name he read.
Yes! there the old bay hero stood, All safe from battle's harms, And ere an order could be heard, Or the bugle's quick alarms, Down all the front, from end to end, The troops presented arms!
Not all the shoulder-straps on earth Could still our mighty cheer; And ever from that famous day, When rang the roll call clear, Bay Billy's name was read, and then The whole line answered, "Here!"
FRANK H. GASSAWAY.
* * * * *
WOUNDED TO DEATH.
Steady, boys, steady! Keep your arms ready, God only knows whom we may meet here. Don't let me be taken; I'd rather awaken, To-morrow, in—no matter where, Than lie in that foul prison-hole—over there. Step slowly! Speak lowly! These rocks may have life. Lay me down in this hollow; We are out of the strife. By heavens! the foemen may track me in blood, For this hole in my breast is outpouring a flood. No! no surgeon for me; he can give me no aid; The surgeon I want is pickaxe and spade. What, Morris, a tear? Why, shame on ye, man! I thought you a hero; but since you began To whimper and cry like a girl in her teens, By George! I don't know what the devil it means! Well! well! I am, rough; 'tis a very rough school, This life of a trooper,—but yet I'm no fool! I know a brave man, and a friend from a foe; And, boys, that you love me I certainly know; But wasn't it grand When they came down the hill over sloughing and sand! But we stood—did we not?—like immovable rock, Unheeding their balls and repelling their shock. Did you mind the loud cry When, as turning to fly, Our men sprang upon them, determined to die? O, wasn't it grand!
God help the poor wretches that fell in that fight; No time was there given for prayer or for flight; They fell by the score, in the crash, hand to hand, And they mingled their blood with the sloughing and sand. Huzza! Great Heavens! this bullet-hole gapes like a grave; A curse on the aim of the traitorous knave! Is there never a one of ye knows how to pray, Or speak for a man as his life ebbs away? Pray! Pray! Our Father! our Father!... why don't ye proceed? Can't you see I am dying? Great God, how I bleed! Ebbing away! Ebbing away! The light of day Is turning to gray. Pray! Pray! Our Father in Heaven,—boys, tell me the rest, While I stanch the hot blood from this hole in my breast. There's something about the forgiveness of sin— Put that in! put that in!—and then I'll follow your words and say an amen.
Here, Morris, old fellow, get hold of my hand; And, Wilson, my comrade—O, wasn't it grand When they came down the hill like a thunder-charged cloud! Where's Wilson, my comrade?—Here, stoop down your head; Can't you say a short prayer for the dying and dead! "Christ God, who died for sinners all, Hear thou this suppliant wanderer's cry; Let not e'en this poor sparrow fall Unheeded by thy gracious eye.
"Throw wide thy gates to let him in, And take him, pleading, to thine arms; Forgive, O Lord! his life-long sin. And quiet all his fierce alarms."
God bless you, my comrade, for saying that hymn; It is light to my path when my eye has grown dim. I am dying—bend down till I touch you once more— Don't forget me, old fellow,—God prosper this war! Confusion to traitors!—keep hold of my hand— And float the OLD FLAG o'er a prosperous land!
JOHN W. WATSON.
* * * * *
Into a ward of the whitewashed halls Where the dead and the dying lay, Wounded by bayonets, shells, and balls, Somebody's darling was borne one day— Somebody's darling, so young and brave; Wearing yet on his sweet pale face— Soon to be hid in the dust of the grave— The lingering light of his boyhood's grace.
Matted and damp are the curls of gold Kissing the snow of that fair young brow; Pale are the lips of delicate mould— Somebody's darling is dying now. Back from his beautiful blue-veined brow Brush his wandering waves of gold; Cross his hands on his bosom now— Somebody's darling is still and cold.
Kiss him once for somebody's sake, Murmur a prayer soft and low; One bright curl from its fair mates take— They were somebody's pride, you know. Somebody's hand hath rested here— Was it a mother's, soft and white? Or have the lips of a sister fair Been baptized in their waves of light?
God knows best. He has somebody's love, Somebody's heart enshrined him there, Somebody wafts his name above, Night and morn, on the wings of prayer. Somebody wept when he marched away, Looking so handsome, brave, and grand; Somebody's kiss on his forehead lay, Somebody clung to his parting hand.
Somebody's watching and waiting for him, Yearning to hold him again to her heart; And there he lies with his blue eyes dim, And the smiling, childlike lips apart. Tenderly bury the fair young dead— Pausing to drop on his grave a tear. Carve on the wooden slab o'er his head: "Somebody's darling slumbers here."
MARIA LA CONTE.
* * * * *
TRAMP, TRAMP, TRAMP.
In the prison cell I sit, Thinking, mother dear, of you, And our bright and happy home so far away, And the tears they fill my eyes, Spite of all that I can do, Tho' I try to cheer my comrades and be gay.
Trump, tramp, tramp, the 'boys are marching, Oh, cheer up, comrades, they will come, And beneath the starry flag we shall breathe the air again, Of freedom in our own beloved home.
In the battle front we stood When the fiercest charge they made, And they swept us off a hundred men or more, But before we reached their lines They were beaten back dismayed, And we heard the cry of vict'ry o'er and o'er,—
So within the prison cell We are waiting for the day That shall come to open wide the iron door, And the hollow eye grows bright, And the poor heart almost gay, As we think of seeing friends and home once more.
Tramp, tramp, tramp, the boys are marching, Oh, cheer up, comrades, they 'will come, And beneath the starry flag we shall breathe the air again, Of freedom in our own beloved home.
* * * * *
Weave no more silks, ye Lyons looms, To deck our girls for gay delights! The crimson flower of battle blooms, And solemn marches fill the night.
Weave but the flag whose bars to-day Drooped heavy o'er our early dead, And homely garments, coarse and gray, For orphans that must earn their bread!
Keep back your tunes, ye viols sweet, That poured delight from other lands! Rouse there the dancer's restless feet: The trumpet leads our warrior bands.
And ye that wage the war of words With mystic fame and subtle power, Go, chatter to the idle birds, Or teach the lesson of the hour!
Ye Sibyl Arts, in one stern knot Be all your offices combined! Stand close, while Courage draws the lot, The destiny of human kind.
And if that destiny could fail, The sun should darken in the sky, The eternal bloom of Nature pale, And God, and Truth, and Freedom die!
JULIA WARD HOWE.
* * * * *
WHEN THIS CRUEL WAR IS OVER.
Dearest love, do you remember When we last did meet, How you told me that you loved me Kneeling at my feet? Oh, how proud you stood before me In your suit of blue, When you vowed to me and country Ever to be true.
Chorus.—Weeping, sad and lonely, Hopes and fears, how vain; Yet praying When this cruel war is over. Praying that we meet again.
When the summer breeze is sighing Mournfully along, Or when autumn leaves are falling, Sadly breathes the song. Oft in dreams I see thee lying On the battle plain, Lonely, wounded, even dying, Calling, but in vain. Chorus.—Weeping, sad, etc.
If, amid the din of battle, Nobly you should fall, Far away from those who love you, None to hear you call, Who would whisper words of comfort? Who would soothe your pain? Ah, the many cruel fancies Ever in my brain! Chorus.—Weeping, sad, etc.
But our country called you, darling, Angels cheer your way! While our nation's sons are fighting, We can only pray. Nobly strike for God and country, Let all nations see How we love the starry banner, Emblem of the free.
Chorus.—Weeping, sad and lonely, Hopes and fears, how vain; Yet praying When this cruel war is over, Praying that we meet again.
* * * * *
[September 19, 1864.]
Up from the South at break of day, Bringing to Winchester fresh dismay, The affrighted air with a shudder bore, Like a herald in haste, to the chieftain's door, The terrible grumble and rumble and roar, Telling the battle was on once more, And Sheridan twenty miles away.
And wider still those billows of war Thundered along the horizon's bar; And louder yet into Winchester rolled The roar of that red sea uncontrolled, Making the blood of the listener cold As he thought of the stake in that fiery fray, With Sheridan twenty miles away.
But there is a road from Winchester town, A good, broad highway, leading down; And there, through the flash of the morning light, A steed as black as the steeds of night Was seen to pass as with eagle flight. As if he knew the terrible need, He stretched away with the utmost speed; Hills rose and fell,—but his heart was gay, With Sheridan fifteen miles away.
Still sprung from those swift hoofs, thundering South, The dust, like smoke from the cannon's mouth; Or the trail of a comet, sweeping faster and faster, Foreboding to traitors the doom of disaster. The heart of the steed and the heart of the master Were beating, like prisoners assaulting their walls. Impatient to be where the battle-field calls; Every nerve of the charger was strained to full play, With Sheridan only ten miles away.
Under his spurning feet, the road Like an arrowy Alpine river flowed, And the landscape sped away behind, Like an ocean flying before the wind; And the steed, like a bark fed with furnace ire, Swept on, with his wild eyes full of fire; But, lo! he is nearing his heart's desire, He is snuffing the smoke of the roaring fray, With Sheridan only five miles away.
The first that the General saw were the groups Of stragglers, and then the retreating troops; What was done,—what to do,—a glance told him both, And, striking his spurs with a terrible oath, He dashed down the line mid a storm of huzzas, And the wave of retreat checked its course there, because The sight of the master compelled it to pause. With foam and with dust the black charger was gray; By the flash of his eye, and his nostril's play, He seemed to the whole great army to say, "I have brought you Sheridan all the way From Winchester down, to save the day!"
Hurrah, hurrah for Sheridan! Hurrah, hurrah, for horse and man! And when their statues are placed on high, Under the dome of the Union sky,— The American soldier's Temple of Fame,— There with the glorious General's name Be it said in letters both bold and bright: "Here is the steed that saved the day By carrying Sheridan into the fight, From Winchester,—twenty miles away!"
THOMAS BUCHANAN READ.
* * * * *
LEFT ON THE BATTLE-FIELD.
What, was it a dream? am I all alone In the dreary night and the drizzling rain? Hist!—ah, it was only the river's moan; They have left me behind with the mangled slain.
Yes, now I remember it all too well! We met, from the battling ranks apart; Together our weapons Hashed and fell, And mine was sheathed in his quivering heart.
In the cypress gloom, where the deed was done, It was all too dark to see his face; But I heard his death-groans, one by one, And he holds me still in a cold embrace.
He spoke but once, and I could not hear The words he said for the cannon's roar; But my heart grew cold with a deadly fear,— God! I had heard that voice before!
Had heard it before at our mother's knee, When we lisped the words of our evening prayer! My brother! would I had died for thee,— This burden is more than my soul can bear!
I pressed my lips to his death-cold cheek, And begged him to show me, by word or sign, That he knew and forgave me: he could not speak, But he nestled his poor cold face to mine.
The blood flowed fast from my wounded side, And then for a while I forgot my pain, And over the lakelet we seemed to glide In our little boat, two boys again.
And then, in my dream, we stood alone On a forest path where the shadows fell; And I heard again the tremulous tone, And the tender words of his last farewell.
But that parting was years, long years ago, He wandered away to a foreign land; And our dear old mother will never know That he died to-night by his brother's hand.
The soldiers who buried the dead away Disturbed not the clasp of that last embrace, But laid them to sleep till the judgment-day, Heart folded to heart, and face to face.
SARAH TITTLE BOLTON.
* * * * *
FOR ONE SLAIN IN BATTLE.
Breathe, trumpets, breathe Slow notes of saddest wailing,— Sadly responsive peal, ye muffled drums; Comrades, with downcast eyes And banners trailing, Attend him home,— The youthful warrior comes.
Upon his shield, Upon his shield returning, Borne from the field of honor Where he fell; Glory and grief, together clasped In mourning, His fame, his fate With sobs exulting tell.
Wrap round his breast The flag his breast defended,— His country's flag, In battle's front unrolled: For it he died; On earth forever ended His brave young life Lives in each sacred fold. With proud fond tears, By tinge of shame untainted, Bear him, and lay him Gently in his grave:
Above the hero write,— The young, half-sainted,— His country asked his life, His life he gave!
* * * * *
MUSIC IN CAMP.
Two armies covered hill and plain, Where Rappahannock's waters Ran deeply crimsoned with the stain Of battle's recent slaughters.
The summer clouds lay pitched like tents In meads of heavenly azure; And each dread gun of the elements Slept in its embrasure.
The breeze so softly blew, it made No forest leaf to quiver, And the smoke of the random cannonade Rolled slowly from the river.
And now, where circling hills looked down With cannon grimly planted, O'er listless camp and silent town The golden sunset slanted.
When on the fervid air there came A strain—now rich, now tender; The music seemed itself aflame With day's departing splendor.
A Federal band, which, eve and morn, Played measures brave and nimble, Had just struck up, with flute and horn And lively clash of cymbal.
Down flocked the soldiers to the banks, Till, margined by its pebbles, One wooded shore was blue with "Yanks," And one was gray with "Rebels."
Then all was still, and then the band, With movements light and tricksy, Made stream and forest, hill and strand, Reverberate with "Dixie."
The conscious stream with burnished glow Went proudly o'er its pebbles, But thrilled throughout its deepest flow With yelling of the Rebels.
Again a pause, and then again The trumpets pealed sonorous, And "Yankee Doodle" was the strain To which the shore gave chorus.
The laughing ripple shoreward flew, To kiss the shining pebbles; Loud shrieked the swarming Boys in Blue Defiance to the Rebels.
And yet once more the bugle sang Above the stormy riot; No shout upon the evening rang— There reigned a holy quiet.
The sad, slow stream its noiseless flood Poured o'er the glistening pebbles; All silent now the Yankees stood, And silent stood the Rebels.
No unresponsive soul had heard That plaintive note's appealing, So deeply "Home, Sweet Home" had stirred The hidden fount of feeling.
Or Blue, or Gray, the soldier sees, As by the wand of fairy, The cottage 'neath the live-oak trees, The cabin by the prairie.
Or cold, or warm, his native skies, Bend in their beauty o'er him; Seen through the tear-mist in his eyes, His loved ones stand before him.
As fades the iris after rain In April's tearful weather, The vision vanished, as the strain And daylight died together.
But memory, waked by music's art, Expressed in simplest numbers, Subdued the sternest Yankee's heart, Made light the Rebel's slumbers.
And fair the form of Music shines, That bright celestial creature. Who still, 'mid war's embattled lines, Gave this one touch of Nature.
JOHN RANDOLPH THOMPSON.
* * * * *
UNDER THE SHADE OF THE TREES.
[The last words of Stonewall Jackson[A] were: "Let us cross the river and rest under the shade of the trees."]
[Footnote A: Major-General Thomas J. Jackson, C.S.A., killed on a reconnoissance, May 10, 1863.]
What are the thoughts that are stirring his breast? What is the mystical vision he sees? —"Let us pass over the river, and rest Under the shade of the trees."
Has he grown sick of his toils and his tasks? Sighs the worn spirit for respite or ease? Is it a moment's cool halt that he asks Under the shade of the trees?
Is it the gurgle of water whose flow Ofttimes has come to him, borne on the breeze, Memory listens to, lapsing so low, Under the shade of the trees?
Nay—though the rasp of the flesh was so sore, Faith, that had yearnings far keener than these, Saw the soft sheen of the Thitherward Shore Under the shade of the trees;—
Caught the high psalm of ecstatic delight— Heard the harps harping, like soundings of seas— Watched earth's assoiled ones walking in white Under the shade of the trees.
Oh, was it strange he should pine for release, Touched to the soul with such transports as these,— He who so needed the balsam of peace, Under the shade of the trees?
Yea, it was noblest for him—it was best (Questioning naught of our Father's decrees), There to pass over the river and rest Under the shade of the trees!
MARGARET JUNKIN PRESTON.
* * * * *
THE BLACK REGIMENT.
[May 27, 1863.]
Dark as the clouds of even, Banked in the western heaven, Waiting the breath that lifts All the dead mass, and drifts Tempest and falling brand Over a ruined land,— So still and orderly, Arm to arm, knee to knee, Waiting the great event, Stands the black regiment.
Down the long dusty line Teeth gleam and eyeballs shine; And the bright bayonet, Bristling and firmly set, Flashed with a purpose grand, Long ere the sharp command Of the fierce rolling drum Told them their time had come, Told them what work was sent For the black regiment.
"Now," the flag-sergeant cried, "Though death and hell betide, Let the whole nation see If we are fit to be Free in this land; or bound Down, like the whining hound,— Bound with red stripes of pain In our cold chains again!" O, what a shout there went From the black regiment!
"Charge!" Trump and drum awoke; Onward the bondmen broke; Bayonet and sabre-stroke Vainly opposed their rush. Through the wild battle's crush, With but one thought aflush, Driving their lords like chaff, In the guns' mouths they laugh; Or at the slippery brands Leaping with open hands, Down they tear man and horse, Down in their awful course; Trampling with bloody heel Over the crashing steel,— All their eyes forward bent, Rushed the black regiment.
"Freedom!" their battle-cry,— "Freedom! or leave to die!" Ah! and they meant the word, Not as with us 'tis heard, Not a mere party shout; They gave their spirits out, Trusted the end to God, And on the gory sod Rolled in triumphant blood. Glad to strike one free blow, Whether for weal or woe; Glad to breathe one free breath, Though on the lips of death; Praying,—alas! in vain!—That they might fall again, So they could once more see That burst to liberty! This was what "freedom" lent To the black regiment.
Hundreds on hundreds fell; But they are resting well; Scourges and shackles strong Never shall do them wrong. O, to the living few, Soldiers, be just and true! Hail them as comrades tried; Fight with them side by side; Never, in field or tent, Scorn the black regiment!
GEORGE HENRY BOKER.
* * * * *
THE C.S. ARMY'S COMMISSARY.
"Well, this is bad!" we sighing said, While musing round the bivouac fire, And dwelling with a fond desire, On home and comforts long since fled.
"How gayly came we forth at first! Our spirits high, with new emprise, Ambitious of each exercise, And glowing with a martial thirst.
"Equipped as for a holiday, With bounteous store of everything To use or comfort minist'ring, All cheerily we marched away.
"But as the struggle fiercer grew, Light marching orders came apace,— And baggage-wagon soon gave place To that which sterner uses knew.
"Our tents—they went a year ago; Now kettle, spider, frying-pan Are lost to us, and as we can We live, while marching to and fro.
"Our food has lessened, till at length, E'en want's gaunt image seems to threat— A foe to whom the bravest yet Must yield at last his knightly strength.
"But while we've meat and flour enough The bayonet shall be our spit— The ramrod bake our dough on it— A gum-cloth be our kneading trough.
"We'll bear privation, danger dare, While even these are left to us— Be hopeful, faithful, emulous Of gallant deeds, though hard our fare!"
"Three years and more," we grimly said, When order came to "Rest at will" Beside the corn-field on the hill, As on a weary march we sped—
"Three years and more we've met the foe On many a gory, hard-fought field, And still we swear we cannot yield Till Fate shall bring some deeper woe.
"Three years and more we've struggled on, Through torrid heat and winter's chill, Nor bated aught of steadfast will, Though even hope seems almost gone.
"Ill fed, ill clad, and shelterless, How little cheer in health we know! When wounds and illness lay us low, How comfortless our sore distress!
"These flimsy rags, that scarcely hide Our forms, can naught discourage us; But Hunger—ah! it may be thus That Fortune shall the strife decide.
"But while the corn-fields give supply We'll take, content, the roasting-ear, Nor yield us yet to craven fear, But still press on, to do or die:"
ED. PORTER THOMPSON.
* * * * *
THE HIGH TIDE AT GETTYSBURG.
[July 3, 1863.]
A cloud possessed the hollow field. The gathering battle's smoky shield. Athwart the gloom the lightning flashed, And through the cloud some horsemen dashed, And from the heights the thunder pealed.
Then at the brief command of Lee Moved out that matchless infantry, With Pickett leading grandly down, To rush against the roaring crown Of those dread heights of destiny.
Far heard above the angry guns A cry across the tumult runs,— The voice that rang through Shiloh's woods And Chickamanga's solitudes, The fierce South cheering on her sons!
Ah, how the withering tempest blew Against the front of Pettigrew! A Khamsin wind that scorched and singed Like that infernal flame that fringed The British squares at Waterloo!
A thousand fell where Kemper led; A thousand died where Garnett bled: In blinding flame and strangling smoke The remnant through the batteries broke And crossed the works with Armistead.
"Once more in Glory's van with me!" Virginia cried to Tennessee; "We two together, come what may, Shall stand upon these works to-day!" (The reddest day in history.)
Brave Tennessee! In reckless way Virginia heard her comrade say: "Close round this rent and riddled rag!" What time she set her battle-flag Amid the guns of Doubleday.
But who shall break the guards that wait Before the awful face of Fate? The tattered standards of the South Were shrivelled at the cannon's mouth, And all her hopes were desolate.
In vain the Tennesseean set His breast against the bayonet! In vain Virginia charged and raged, A tigress in her wrath uncaged, Till all the hill was red and wet!
Above the bayonets, mixed and crossed, Men saw a gray, gigantic ghost Receding through the battle-cloud, And heard across the tempest loud The death-cry of a nation lost!
The brave went down! Without disgrace They leaped to Ruin's red embrace. They only heard Fame's thunders wake, And saw the dazzling sun-burst break In smiles on Glory's bloody face!
They fell, who lifted up a hand And bade the sun in heaven to stand! They smote and fell, who set the bars Against the progress of the stars, And stayed the march of Motherland!
They stood, who saw the future come On through the fight's delirium! They smote and stood, who held the hope Of nations on that slippery slope Amid the cheers of Christendom.
God lives! He forged the iron will That clutched and held that trembling hill. God lives and reigns! He built and lent The heights for Freedom's battlement Where floats her flag in triumph still!
Fold up the banners! Smelt the guns! Love rules. Her gentler purpose runs. A mighty mother turns in tears The pages of her battle years, Lamenting all her fallen sons!
WILL HENRY THOMPSON.
* * * * *
LEE TO THE REAR.
[An incident in one of the battles in the Wilderness at the beginning of the campaign of 1864.]
Dawn of a pleasant morning in May Broke through the Wilderness cool and gray; While perched in the tallest tree-tops, the birds Were carolling Mendelssohn's "Songs without Words."
Far from the haunts of men remote, The brook brawled on with a liquid note; And Nature, all tranquil and lovely, wore The smile of the spring, as in Eden of yore.
Little by little, as daylight increased, And deepened the roseate flush in the East— Little by little did morning reveal Two long glittering lines of steel;
Where two hundred thousand bayonets gleam, Tipped with the light of the earliest beam, And the faces are sullen and grim to see In the hostile armies of Grant and Lee.
All of a sudden, ere rose the sun, Pealed on the silence the opening gun— A little white puff of smoke there came, And anon the valley was wreathed in flame.
Down on the left of the Rebel lines, Where a breastwork stands in a copse of pines, Before the Rebels their ranks can form, The Yankees have carried the place by storm.
Stars and Stripes on the salient wave, Where many a hero has found a grave, And the gallant Confederates strive in vain The ground they have drenched with their blood, to regain.
Yet louder the thunder of battle roared— Yet a deadlier fire on the columns poured; Slaughter infernal rode with Despair, Furies twain, through the murky air.
Not far off, in the saddle there sat A gray-bearded man in a black slouched hat; Not much moved by the fire was he, Calm and resolute Robert Lee.
Quick and watchful he kept his eye On the bold Rebel brigades close by,— Reserves that were standing (and dying) at ease, While the tempest of wrath toppled over the trees.
For still with their loud, deep, bull-dog bay, The Yankee batteries blazed away, And with every murderous second that sped A dozen brave fellows, alas! fell dead.
The grand old graybeard rode to the space Where Death and his victims stood face to face, And silently waved his old slouched hat— A world of meaning there was in that!
"Follow me! Steady! We'll save the day!" This was what he seemed to say; And to the light of his glorious eye The bold brigades thus made reply:
"We'll go forward, but you must go back "— And they moved not an inch in the perilous track: "Go to the rear, and we'll send them to hell!" And the sound of the battle was lost in their yell.
Turning his bridle, Robert Lee Rode to the rear. Like waves of the sea, Bursting the dikes in their overflow, Madly his veterans dashed on the foe.
And backward in terror that foe was driven, Their banners rent and their columns riven, Wherever the tide of battle rolled Over the Wilderness, wood and wold.
Sunset out of a crimson sky Streamed o'er a field of ruddier dye, And the brook ran on with a purple stain, From the blood of ten thousand foemen slain.
Seasons have passed since that day and year— Again o'er its pebbles the brook runs clear, And the field in a richer green is drest Where the dead of a terrible conflict rest.
Hushed is the roll of the Rebel drum, The sabres are sheathed, and the cannon are dumb; And Fate, with his pitiless hand, has furled The flag that once challenged the gaze of the world;
But the fame of the Wilderness fight abides; And down into history grandly rides, Calm and unmoved as in battle he sat, The gray-bearded man in the black slouched hat.
JOHN RANDOLPH THOMPSON.
* * * * *
DRIVING HOME THE COWS.
Out of the clover and blue-eyed grass He turned them into the river-lane; One after another he let them pass, Then fastened the meadow bars again.
Under the willows, and over the hill, He patiently followed their sober pace; The merry whistle for once was still, And something shadowed the sunny face.
Only a boy! and his father had said He never could let his youngest go; Two already were lying dead Under the feet of the trampling foe.
But after the evening work was done, And the frogs were loud in the meadow-swamp, Over his shoulder he slung his gun And stealthily followed the foot-path damp,
Across the clover and through the wheat With resolute heart and purpose grim, Though cold was the dew on his hurrying feet, And the blind bat's flitting startled him.
Thrice since then had the lanes been white, And the orchards sweet with apple-bloom; And now, when the cows came back at night, The feeble father drove them home.
For news had come to the lonely farm That three were lying where two had lain; And the old man's tremulous, palsied arm Could never lean on a son's again.
The summer day grew cool and late, He went for the cows when the work was done; But down the lane, as he opened the gate, He saw them coming one by one,—
Brindle, Ebony, Speckle, and Bess, Shaking their horns in the evening wind; Cropping the buttercups out of the grass,— But who was it following close behind?
Loosely swung in the idle air The empty sleeve of army blue; And worn and pale, from the crisping hair, Looked out a face that the father knew.
For gloomy prisons will sometimes yawn, And yield their dead unto life again; And the day that comes with a cloudy dawn In golden glory at last may wane.
The great tears sprang to their meeting eyes; For the heart must speak when the lips are dumb; And under the silent evening skies Together they followed the cattle home.
KATE PUTNAM OSGOOD.
* * * * *
SHERMAN'S MARCH TO THE SEA.[A]
[Footnote A: This song was sung by thousands of Sherman's soldiers after the march, and had the honor of giving its name to the campaign it celebrates. Its author had been one of Sherman's army, and was captured at the battle of Chattanooga. While a prisoner he escaped, disguised himself in a Confederate uniform, went to the Southern army, and witnessed some of the fierce fighting about Atlanta. He was discovered and sent back to prison at Columbia, S.C., where he wrote the song. He soon escaped again, rejoined Sherman's army, and for a time served on General Sherman's staff. From Cape Fear River he was sent North with despatches to Grant and President Lincoln, bringing the first news of Sherman's successes in the Carolinas.]
[May 4 to December 21, 1864.]
Our camp-fires shone bright on the mountains That frowned on the river below, While we stood by our guns in the morning And eagerly watched for the foe, When a rider came out of the darkness That hung over the mountain and tree, And shouted, "Boys, up and be ready! For Sherman will march to the sea."
Then cheer upon cheer for bold Sherman Went up from each valley and glen, And the bugles re-echoed the music That came from the lips of the men; For we knew that the stars in our banner More bright in their splendor would be, And that blessings from Northland would greet us When Sherman marched down to the sea.
Then forward, boys, forward to battle, We marched on our wearisome way, We stormed the wild hills of Resaca; God bless those who fell on that day! Then Kenesaw, dark in its glory, Frowned down on the flag of the free, But the East and the West bore our standards, And Sherman marched on to the sea.
Still onward we pressed, till our banners Swept out from Atlanta's grim walls, And the blood of the patriot dampened The soil where the traitor flag falls; Yet we paused not to weep for the fallen, Who slept by each river and tree; We twined them a wreath of the laurel As Sherman marched down to the sea.
Oh! proud was our army that morning, That stood where the pine darkly towers, When Sherman said: "Boys, you are weary; This day fair Savannah is ours!" Then sang we a song for our chieftain, That echoed o'er river and lea, And the stars in our banner shone brighter When Sherman marched down to the sea.
SAMUEL H.M. BYERS.
* * * * *
ARMY CORRESPONDENT'S LAST RIDE.
FIVE FORKS, APRIL 1, 1865.
Ho! pony. Down the lonely road Strike now your cheeriest pace! The woods on fire do not burn higher Than burns my anxious face; Far have you sped, but all this night Must feel my nervous spur; If we be late, the world must wait The tidings we aver:— To home and hamlet, town and hearth, To thrill child, mother, man, I carry to the waiting North Great news from Sheridan!
The birds are dead among the pines, Slain by the battle fright, Prone in the road the steed reclines That never readied the fight; Yet on we go,—the wreck below Of many a tumbled wain,— By ghastly pools where stranded mules Die, drinking of the rain; With but my list of killed and missed I spur my stumbling nag, To tell of death at many a tryst, But victory to the flag!
"Halt! who comes there? The countersign!"— "A friend."—"Advance! The fight,— How goes it, say?"—"We won the day!"— "Huzza! Pass on!"—"Good-night!"— And parts the darkness on before, And down the mire we tramp, And the black sky is painted o'er With many a pulsing camp; O'er stumps and ruts, by ruined huts, Where ghosts look through the gloam,— Behind my tread I hear the dead Follow the news toward home!
The hunted souls I see behind, In swamp and in ravine, Whose cry for mercy thrills the wind Till cracks the sure carbine; The moving lights, which scare the dark, And show the trampled place Where, in his blood, some mother's bud Turns up his young, dead face; The captives spent, whose standards rent The conqueror parades, As at the Five Forks roads arrive The General's dashing aides.
O wondrous Youth! through this grand ruth Runs my boy's life its thread; The General's fame, the battle's name, The rolls of maimed and dead I bear, with my thrilled soul astir, And lonely thoughts and fears; And am but History's courier To bind the conquering years; A battle-ray, through ages gray To light to deeds sublime, And flash the lustre of this day Down all the aisles of Time!
Ho! pony,—'tis the signal gun The night-assault decreed; On Petersburg the thunderbolts Crash from the lines of Meade; Fade the pale, frightened stars o'erhead, And shrieks the bursting air; The forest foliage, tinted red, Grows ghastlier in the glare; Though in her towers, reached her last hours, Rocks proud Rebellion's crest— The world may sag, if but my nag Get in before the rest!
With bloody flank, and fetlocks dank, And goad, and lash, and shout— Great God! as every hoof-beat falls A hundred lives beat out! As weary as this broken steed Reels down the corduroys, So, weary, fight for morning light Our hot and grimy boys; Through ditches wet, o'er parapet And guns barbette, they catch The last, lost breach; and I,—I reach The mail with my despatch!
Sure it shall speed, the land to read, As sped the happiest shell! The shot I send strike the world's end; This tells my pony's knell; His long race run, the long war done, My occupation gone,— Above his bier, prone on the pier, The vultures fleck the dawn. Still, rest his bones where soldiers dwell, Till the Long Roll they catch. He fell the day that Richmond fell, And took the first despatch!
GEORGE ALFRED TOWNSEND.
* * * * *
THE YEAR OF JUBILEE.[A]
[Footnote A: Sung by negro troops when entering Richmond. George Gary Eggleston, in his collection of "American War Ballads," says that it soon found favor among the people and "was sung with applause by young men and maidens in well-nigh every house in Virginia."]
Say, darkeys, hab you seen de massa, Wid de muffstash on he face, Go long de road some time dis mornin', Like he gwine leabe de place? He see de smoke way up de ribber Whar de Lincum gunboats lay; He took he hat an' leff berry sudden, And I spose he's runned away.
De massa run, ha, ha! De darkey stay, ho, ho! It mus' be now de kingdum comin', An' de yar ob jubilo.
He six foot one way an' two foot todder, An' he weigh six hundred poun'; His coat so big he couldn't pay de tailor, An' it won't reach half way roun'; He drill so much dey calls him cap'n, An he git so mighty tanned, I spec he'll try to fool dem Yankees, For to tink he contraband, De massa run, ha, ha! De darkey stay, ho, ho! It mus' be now de kingdum comin', An' de yar ob jubilo.
De darkeys got so lonesome libb'n In de log hut on de lawn, Dey moved dere tings into massa's parlor For to keep it while he gone. Dar's wine an' cider in de kitchin, An' de darkeys dey hab some, I spec it will be all fiscated, When de Lincum sojers come. De massa run, ha, ha! De darkey stay, ho, ho! It mus' be now de kingdum comin', An' de yar ob jubilo.
De oberseer he makes us trubble, An' he dribe us roun' a spell, We lock him up in de smoke-house cellar, Wid de key flung in de well. De whip am lost, de han'-cuff broke, But de massy hab his pay; He big an' ole enough for to know better Dan to went an' run away. De massa run, ha, ha! De darkey stay, ho, ho! It mus' be now de kingdum comin', An' de yar ob jubilo.
* * * * *
THE CONQUERED BANNER.
Furl that Banner, for 'tis weary; Round its staff 'tis drooping dreary: Furl it, fold it,—it is best; For there's not a man to wave it, And there's not a sword to save it, And there's not one left to lave it In the blood which heroes gave it, And its foes now scorn and brave it: Furl it, hide it,—let it rest!
Take that Banner down! 'tis tattered; Broken is its staff and shattered; And the valiant hosts are scattered, Over whom it floated high. Oh, 'tis hard for us to fold it, Hard to think there's none to hold it, Hard that those who once unrolled it Now must furl it with a sigh!
Furl that Banner—furl it sadly! Once ten thousands hailed it gladly, And ten thousands wildly, madly, Swore it should forever wave; Swore that foeman's sword should never Hearts like theirs entwined dissever, Till that flag should float forever O'er their freedom or their grave!
Furl it! for the hands that grasped it, And the hearts that fondly clasped it, Cold and dead are lying low; And that Banner—it is trailing, While around it sounds the wailing Of its people in their woe.
For, though conquered, they adore it,— Love the cold, dead hands that bore it, Weep for those who fell before it, Pardon those who trailed and tore it; And oh, wildly they deplore it, Now to furl and fold it so!
Furl that Banner! True, 'tis gory, Yet 'tis wreathed around with glory, And 't will live in song and story Though its folds are in the dust! For its fame on brightest pages, Penned by poets and by sages, Shall go sounding down the ages— Furl its folds though now we must.
Furl that Banner, softly, slowly! Treat it gently—it is holy, For it droops above the dead. Touch it not—unfold it never; Let it droop there, furled forever,— For its people's hopes are fled!
ABRAM JOSEPH RYAN.
* * * * *
There hangs a sabre, and there a rein, With a rusty buckle and green curb chain; A pair of spurs on the old gray wall, And a mouldy saddle—well, that is all.
Come out to the stable—it is not far; The moss grown door is hanging ajar. Look within! There's an empty stall, Where once stood a charger, and that is all.
The good black horse came riderless home, Flecked with blood drops as well as foam; See yonder hillock where dead leaves fall; The good black horse pined to death—that's all.
All? O, God! it is all I can speak. Question me not—I am old and weak; His sabre and his saddle hang on the wall, And his horse pined to death—I have told you all.
FRANCIS ALEXANDER DURIVAGE.
* * * * *
THE CLOSING SCENE.
Within the sober realm of leafless trees, The russet year inhaled the dreamy air; Like some tanned reaper, in his hour of ease, When all the fields are lying brown and bare.
The gray barns looking from their hazy hills, O'er the dun waters widening in the vales, Sent down the air a greeting to the mills On the dull thunder of alternate flails.
All sights were mellowed and all sounds subdued, The hills seemed further and the stream sang low, As in a dream the distant woodman hewed His winter log with many a muffled blow.
The embattled forests, erewhile armed with gold, Their banners bright with every martial hue, Now stood like some sad, beaten host of old, Withdrawn afar in Time's remotest blue.
On slumb'rous wings the vulture held his flight; The dove scarce heard its sighing mate's complaint; And, like a star slow drowning in the light, The village church-vane seemed to pale and faint.
The sentinel-cock upon the hillside crew,— Crew thrice,—and all was stiller than before; Silent, till some replying warden blew His alien horn, and then was heard no more.
Where erst the jay, within the elm's tall crest, Made garrulous trouble round her unfledged young; And where the oriole hung her swaying nest, By every light wind like a censer swung;—
Where sang the noisy martens of the eaves, The busy swallows circling ever near,— Foreboding, as the rustic mind believes, An early harvest and a plenteous year;—
Where every bird which charmed the vernal feast Shook the sweet slumber from its wings at morn, To warn the reaper of the rosy east:— All now was sunless, empty, and forlorn.
Alone from out the stubble piped the quail, And croaked the crow through all the dreamy gloom; Alone the pheasant, drumming in the vale, Made echo to the distant cottage-loom.
There was no bud, no bloom upon the bowers; The spiders moved their thin shrouds night by night, The thistle-down, the only ghost of flowers, Sailed slowly by,—passed noiseless out of sight.
Amid all this—in this most cheerless air, And where the woodbine shed upon the porch Its crimson leaves, as if the Year stood there Firing the floor with his inverted torch,—
Amid all this, the centre of the scene, The white-haired matron with monotonous tread Plied the swift wheel, and with her joyless mien Sat, like a fate, and watched the flying thread,
She had known Sorrow,—he had walked with her, Oft supped, and broke the bitter ashen crust; And in the dead leaves still she heard the stir Of his black mantle trailing in the dust.
While yet her cheek was bright with summer bloom, Her country summoned and she gave her all; And twice War bowed to her his sable plume,— Re-gave the swords to rust upon the wall.
Re-gave the swords, but not the hand that drew And struck for Liberty the dying blow; Nor him who, to his sire and country true, Fell mid the ranks of the invading foe.
Long, but not loud, the droning wheel went on, Like the low murmur of a hive at noon; Long, but not loud, the memory of the gone Breathed through her lips a sad and tremulous tune.
At last the thread was snapped; her head was bowed; Life dropt the distaff through his hands serene; And loving neighbors smoothed her careful shroud, While Death and Winter closed the autumn scene.
THOMAS BUCHANAN READ.
* * * * *
THE MEN BEHIND THE GUNS.
[The Spanish-American War, 1898.]
A cheer and salute for the Admiral, and here's to the Captain bold, And never forget the Commodore's debt when the deeds of might are told! They stand to the deck through the battle's wreck when the great shells roar and screech— And never they fear when the foe is near to practise what they preach: But off with your hat and three times three for Columbia's true-blue sons, The men below who batter the foe—the men behind the guns!
Oh, light and merry of heart are they when they swing into port once more, When, with more than enough of the "green-backed stuff," they start for their leave-o'-shore; And you'd think, perhaps, that the blue-bloused chaps who loll along the street Are a tender bit, with salt on it, for some fierce "mustache" to eat— Some warrior bold, with straps of gold, who dazzles and fairly stuns The modest worth of the sailor boys—the lads who serve the guns.
But say not a word till the shot is heard that tells the fight is on. Till the long, deep roar grows more and more from the ships of "Yank" and "Don," Till over the deep the tempests sweep of fire and bursting shell, And the very air is a mad Despair in the throes of a living hell; Then down, deep down, in the mighty ship, unseen by the midday suns, You'll find the chaps who are giving the raps—the men behind the guns!
Oh, well they know how the cyclones blow that they loose from their cloud of death, And they know is heard the thunder-word their fierce ten-incher saith! The steel decks rock with the lightning shock, and shake with the great recoil, And the sea grows red with the blood of the dead and reaches for his spoil— But not till the foe has gone below or turns his prow and runs, Shall the voice of peace bring sweet release to the men behind the guns!
JOHN JEROME ROONEY.
* * * * *
THE BATTLE OF MANILA. A FRAGMENT.
[May I, 1898.]
By Cavite on the bay 'Twas the Spanish squadron lay; And the red dawn was creeping O'er the city that lay sleeping To the east, like a bride, in the May. There was peace at Manila, In the May morn at Manila,— When ho, the Spanish admiral Awoke to find our line Had passed by gray Corregidor, Had laughed at shoal and mine, And flung to the sky its banners With "Remember" for the sign!
With the ships of Spain before In the shelter of the shore, And the forts on the right, They drew forward to the fight, And the first was the gallant Commodore; In the bay of Manila, In the doomed bay of Manila— With succor half the world away, No port beneath that sky, With nothing but their ships and guns And Yankee pluck to try, They had left retreat behind them, They had come to win or die!
* * * * *
For we spoke at Manila, We said it at Manila, Oh be ye brave, or be ye strong, Ye build your ships in vain; The children of the sea queen's brood Will not give up the main; We hold the sea against the world As we held it against Spain.
Be warned by Manila, Take warning by Manila, Ye may trade by land, ye may fight by land, Ye may hold the land in fee; But not go down to the sea in ships To battle with the free; For England and America Will keep and hold the sea!
* * * * *
* * * * *
ODE TO PEACE.
Daughter of God! that sitt'st on high Amid the dances of the sky, And guidest with thy gentle sway The planets on their tuneful way; Sweet Peace! shall ne'er again The smile of thy most holy face, From thine ethereal dwelling-place, Rejoice the wretched, weary race Of discord-breathing men? Too long, O gladness-giving Queen! Thy tarrying in heaven has been; Too long o'er this fair blooming world The flag of blood has been unfurled, Polluting God's pure day; Whilst, as each maddening people reels, War onward drives his scythed wheels, And at his horses' bloody heels Shriek Murder and Dismay.
Oft have I wept to hear the cry Of widow wailing bitterly; To see the parent's silent tear For children fallen beneath the spear; And I have felt so sore The sense of human guilt and woe, That I, in Virtue's passioned glow, Have cursed (my soul was wounded so) The shape of man I bore! Then come from thy serene abode, Thou gladness-giving child of God! And cease the world's ensanguined strife, And reconcile my soul to life; For much I long to see, Ere I shall to the grave descend, Thy hand its blessed branch extend, And to the world's remotest end Wave Love and Harmony!
* * * * *
END OF THE CIVIL WAR.
FROM KING RICHARD III., ACT I. SC. I.
Now is the winter of our discontent Made glorious summer by this sun of York, And all the clouds that lowered upon our house In the deep bosom of the ocean buried. Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths; Our bruised arms hung up for monuments; Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings, Our dreadful marches to delightful measures. Grim-visaged War hath smoothed his wrinkled front. And now, instead of mounting barbed steeds To fright the souls of fearful adversaries, He capers nimbly in a lady's chamber, To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.
* * * * *
"Put up the sword!" the voice of Christ once more Speaks, in the pauses of the cannon's roar, O'er fields of corn by fiery sickles reaped And left dry ashes; over trenches heaped With nameless dead; o'er cities starving slow Under a rain of fire; through wards of woe Down which a groaning diapason runs From tortured brothers, husbands, lovers, sons Of desolate women in their far-off homes, Waiting to hear the step that never comes! O men and brothers! let that voice be heard. War fails, try peace; put up the useless sword!
Fear not the end. There is a story told In Eastern tents, when autumn nights grow cold, And round the fire the Mongol shepherds sit With grave responses listening unto it: Once on the errands of his mercy bent, Buddha, the holy and benevolent, Met a fell monster, huge and fierce of look, Whose awful voice the hills and forests shook.
"O son of peace!" the giant cried, "thy fate Is sealed at last, and love shall yield to hate." The unarmed Buddha looking, with no trace Of fear or anger, in the monster's face, In pity said, "Poor fiend, even thee I love." Lo! as he spake the sky-tall terror sank To hand-breadth size; the huge abhorrence shrank Into the form and fashion of a dove; And where the thunder of its rage was heard, Circling above him sweetly sang the bird: "Hate hath no harm for love," so ran the song, "And peace unweaponed conquers every wrong!"
JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER.
* * * * *
Old Tubal Cain was a man of might, In the days when earth was young; By the fierce red light of his furnace bright, The strokes of his hammer rung: And he lifted high his brawny hand On the iron glowing clear, Till the sparks rushed out in scarlet showers, As he fashioned the sword and the spear. And he sang: "Hurrah for my handiwork! Hurrah for the spear and the sword! Hurrah for the hand that shall wield them well, For he shall be king and lord."
To Tubal Cain came many a one, As he wrought by his roaring fire, And each one prayed for a strong steel blade As the crown of his desire: And he made them weapons sharp and strong, Till they shouted loud for glee, And gave him gifts of pearl and gold, And spoils of the forest free. And they sang: "Hurrah for Tubal Cain, Who hath given us strength anew! Hurrah for the smith, hurrah for the fire, And hurrah for the metal true!"
But a sudden change came o'er his heart, Ere the setting of the sun, And Tubal Cain was filled with pain For the evil he had done; He saw that men, with rage and hate, Made war upon their kind, That the land was red with the blood they shed, In their lust for carnage blind. And he said: "Alas! that ever I made, Or that skill of mine should plan, The spear and the sword for men whose joy Is to slay their fellow-man!"
And for many a day old Tubal Cain Sat brooding o'er his woe; And his hand forbore to smite the ore, And his furnace smouldered low. But he rose at last with a cheerful face, And a bright courageous eye, And bared his strong right arm for work, While the quick flames mounted high. And he sang: "Hurrah for my handiwork!" And the red sparks lit the air; "Not alone for the blade was the bright steel made,"— And he fashioned the first ploughshare.
And men, taught wisdom from the past, In friendship joined their hands, Hung the sword in the hall, the spear on the wall, And ploughed the willing lands; And sang: "Hurrah for Tubal Cain! Our stanch good friend is he; And for the ploughshare and the plough To him our praise shall be. But while oppression lifts its head, Or a tyrant would be lord, Though we may thank him for the plough, We'll not forget the sword!"
* * * * *
THE KNIGHT'S TOMB.
Where is the grave of Sir Arthur O'Kellyn? Where may the grave of that good man be?— By the side of a spring, on the breast of Helvellyn, Under the twigs of a young birch-tree! The oak that in summer was sweet to hear, And rustled its leaves in the fall of the year, And whistled and roared in the winter alone, Is gone,—and the birch in its stead is grown.— The knight's bones are dust, And his good sword rust;— His soul is with the saints, I trust.
SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE.
* * * * *
NOT ON THE BATTLE-FIELD.
"To fall on the battle-field fighting for my dear country,—that would not be hard."—The Neighbors.
O no, no,—let me lie Not on a field of battle when I die! Let not the iron tread Of the mad war-horse crush my helmed head; Nor let the reeking knife, That I have drawn against a brother's life, Be in my hand when Death Thunders along, and tramples me beneath His heavy squadron's heels, Or gory felloes of his cannon's wheels.
From such a dying bed, Though o'er it float the stripes of white and red, And the bald eagle brings The clustered stars upon his wide-spread wings To sparkle in my sight, O, never let my spirit take her flight!
I know that beauty's eye Is all the brighter where gay pennants fly, And brazen helmets dance, And sunshine flashes on the lifted lance; I know that bards have sung, And people shouted till the welkin rung, In honor of the brave Who on the battle-field have found a grave; I know that o'er their bones How grateful hands piled monumental stones. Some of those piles I've seen: The one at Lexington upon the green Where the first blood was shed, And to my country's independence led; And others, on our shore, The "Battle Monument" at Baltimore, And that on Bunker's Hill. Ay, and abroad, a few more famous still; Thy "tomb," Themistocles, That looks out yet upon the Grecian seas, And which the waters kiss That issue from the gulf of Salamis. And thine, too, have I seen, Thy mound of earth, Patroclus, robed in green, That, like a natural knoll, Sheep climb and nibble over as they stroll, Watched by some turbaned boy, Upon the margin of the plain of Troy. Such honors grace the bed, I know, whereon the warrior lays his head, And hears, as life ebbs out, The conquered flying, and the conqueror's shout; But as his eye grows dim, What is a column or a mound to him? What, to the parting soul. The mellow note of bugles? What the roll Of drums? No, let me die Where the blue heaven bends o'er me lovingly, And the soft summer air, As it goes by me, stirs my thin white hair, And from my forehead dries The death-damp as it gathers, and the skies Seem waiting to receive My soul to their clear depths! Or let me leave The world when round my bed Wife, children, weeping friends are gathered, And the calm voice of prayer And holy hymning shall my soul prepare To go and be at rest With kindred spirits,—spirits who have blessed The human brotherhood By labors, cares, and counsels for their good.
* * * * *
THE DAY IS COMING.
Come hither lads and hearken, for a tale there is to tell, Of the wonderful days a-coming, when all shall be better than well.
And the tale shall be told of a country, a land in the midst of the sea, And folk shall call it England in the days that are going to be.
There more than one in a thousand, in the days that are yet to come, Shall have some hope of the morrow, some joy of the ancient home.
For then—laugh not, but listen to this strange tale of mine— All folk that are in England shall be better lodged than swine.
Then a man shall work and bethink him, and rejoice in the deeds of his hand; Nor yet come home in the even too faint and weary to stand.
Men in that time a-coming shall work and have no fear For to-morrow's lack of earning, and the hunger-Wolf anear.
I tell you this for a wonder, that no man then shall be glad Of his fellow's fall and mishap, to snatch at the work he had.
For that which the worker winneth shall then be his indeed, Nor shall half be reaped for nothing by him that sowed no seed.
Oh, strange new wonderful justice! But for whom shall we gather the gain? For ourselves and for each of our fellows, and no hand shall labor in vain.
Then all Mine and all Thine shall be Ours, and no more shall any man crave For riches that serve for nothing but to fetter a friend for a slave.
And what wealth then shall be left us, when none shall gather gold To buy his friend in the market, and pinch and pine the sold?
Nay, what save the lovely city, and the little house on the hill, And the wastes and the woodland beauty, and the happy fields we till;
And the homes of ancient stories, the tombs of the mighty dead; And the wise men seeking out marvels, and the poet's teeming head;
And the painter's hand of wonder, and the marvellous fiddle-bow, And the banded choirs of music: all those that do and know.
For all these shall be ours and all men's; nor shall any lack a share Of the toil and the gain of living, in the days when the world grows fair.
Ah! such are the days that shall be! But what are the deeds of to-day, In the days of the years we dwell in, that wear our lives away?
Why, then, and for what are we waiting? There are three words to speak: We will it, and what is the foeman but the dream-strong wakened and weak?
Oh, why and for what are we waiting, while our brothers droop and die, And on every wind of the heavens a wasted life goes by?
How long shall they reproach us, where crowd on crowd they dwell,— Poor ghosts of the wicked city, the gold-crushed hungry hell?
Through squalid life they labored, in sordid grief they died,— Those sons of a mighty mother, those props of England's pride.
They are gone; there is none can undo it, nor save our souls from the curse: But many a million cometh, and shall they be better or worse?
It is we must answer and hasten, and open wide the door For the rich man's hurrying terror, and the slow-foot hope of the poor.
Yea, the voiceless wrath of the wretched, and their unlearned discontent,— We must give it voice and wisdom till the waiting-tide be spent.
Come then, since all things call us, the living and the dead, And o'er the weltering tangle a glimmering light is shed.
Come then, let us cast off fooling, and put by ease and rest, For the Cause alone is worthy till the good days bring the best.
Come, join in the only battle wherein no man can fail, Where whoso fadeth and dieth, yet his deed shall still prevail.
Ah! come, cast off all fooling, for this, at least, we know: That the dawn and the day is coming, and forth the banners go.
* * * * *
THE GRAVE OF BONAPARTE.
On a lone barren isle, where the wild roaring billows Assail the stern rock, and the loud tempests rave, The hero lies still, while the dew-drooping willows, Like fond weeping mourners, lean over the grave. The lightnings may flash, and the loud thunders rattle: He heeds not, he hears not, he's free from all pain;— He sleeps his last sleep—he has fought his last battle! No sound can awake him to glory again!
O shade of the mighty, where now are the legions That rushed but to conquer when thou led'st them on? Alas! they have perished in far hilly regions, And all save the fame of their triumph is gone! The trumpet may sound, and the loud cannon rattle! They heed not, they hear not, they're free from all pain: They sleep their last sleep, they have fought their last battle! No sound can awake them to glory again!
Yet, spirit immortal, the tomb cannot bind thee, For, like thine own eagle that soared to the sun, Thou springest from bondage and leavest behind thee A name which before thee no mortal had won. Though nations may combat, and war's thunders rattle, No more on the steed wilt thou sweep o'er the plain: Thou sleep'st thy last sleep, thou hast fought thy last battle! No sound can awake thee to glory again!
* * * * *
THE BATTLE OF BLENHEIM.
[In Bavaria, August 13, 1704, between the English and Austrians on one side, under the Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene, and the French and Bavarians on the other side, led by Marshal Tallart and the Elector of Bavaria. The latter party was defeated, and the schemes of Louis XIV. of France were materially checked.]
It was a summer evening,— Old Kaspar's work was done, And he before his cottage door Was sitting in the sun; And by him sported on the green His little grandchild Wilhelmine.
She saw her brother Peterkin Roll something large and round, Which he beside the rivulet, In playing there, had found; He came to ask what he had found That was so large and smooth and round.
Old Kaspar took it from the boy, Who stood expectant by; And then the old man shook his head, And, with a natural sigh,— "'Tis some poor fellow's skull," said he, "Who fell in the great victory.
"I find them in the garden, For there's many hereabout; And often, when I go to plough, The ploughshare turns them out; For many thousand men," said he, "Were slain in the great victory."
"Now tell us what 'twas all about." Young Peterkin he cries; And little Wilhelmine looks up With wonder-waiting eyes,— "Now tell us all about the war, And what they fought each other for."
"It was the English," Kaspar cried, "Who put the French to rout; But what they fought each other for I could not well make out; But everybody said," quoth he, "That 'twas a famous victory.
"My father lived at Blenheim then, Yon little stream hard by; They burnt his dwelling to the ground, And he was forced to fly; So with his wife and child he fled, Nor had he where to rest his head.
"With fire and sword the country round Was wasted far and wide; And many a childing mother there, And new-born baby died; But things like that, you know, must be At every famous victory.
"They say it was a shocking sight After the field was won,— For many thousand bodies here Lay rotting in the sun; But things like that, you know must be After a famous victory.
"Great praise the Duke of Marlborough won, And our good Prince Eugene." "Why, 'twas a very wicked thing!" Said little Wilhelmine. "Nay, nay, my little girl!" quoth he, "It was a famous victory.
"And everybody praised the duke Who this great fight did win." "But what good came of it at last?" Quoth little Peterkin. "Why, that I cannot tell," said he; "But 'twas a famous victory."
* * * * *
England, I stand on thy imperial ground Not all a stranger; as thy bugles blow, I feel within my blood old battles flow,— The blood whose ancient founts are in thee found Still surging dark against the Christian bound While Islam presses; well its peoples know Thy heights that watch them wandering below: I think how Lucknow heard their gathering sound.
I turn and meet the cruel, turbaned face. England! 'tis sweet to be so much thy son! I feel the conqueror in my blood and race; Last night Trafalgar awed me, and to-day Gibraltar wakened; hark, thy evening gun Startles the desert over Africa.
Thou art the rock of empire set mid-seas Between the East and West, that God has built; Advance thy Roman borders where thou wilt, While run thy armies true with his decrees; Law, justice, liberty,—great gifts are these. Watch that they spread where English blood is spilt, Lest, mixed and sullied with his country's guilt The soldier's life-stream flow, and Heaven displease!
Two swords there are: one naked, apt to smite, Thy blade of war; and, battle-storied, one Rejoices in the sheath, and hides from light. American I am; would wars were done! Now westward, look, my country bids good night,— Peace to the world, from ports without a gun!
GEORGE EDWARD WOODBERRY.
* * * * *
THE BIVOUAC OF THE DEAD.
[Dedication of a monument to Kentucky volunteers, killed at Buena Vista, Mexico.]
The muffled drum's sad roll has beat The soldier's last tattoo; No more on Life's parade shall meet That brave and fallen few. On Fame's eternal camping-ground Their silent tents are spread, And Glory guards, with solemn round, The bivouac of the dead.
No rumor of the foe's advance Now swells upon the wind; No troubled thought at midnight haunts Of loved ones left behind; No vision of the morrow's strife The warrior's dream alarms; No braying horn nor screaming fife At dawn shall call to arms.
Their shivered swords are red with rust, Their plumed heads are bowed; Their haughty banner, trailed in dust, Is now their martial shroud. And plenteous funeral tears have washed The red stains from each brow, And the proud forms, by battle gashed, Are free from anguish now.
The neighing troop, the flashing blade, The bugle's stirring blast, The charge, the dreadful cannonade, The din and shout, are past; Nor war's wild note nor glory's peal Shall thrill with fierce delight Those breasts that nevermore may feel The rapture of the fight.
Like the fierce northern hurricane That sweeps his great plateau, Flushed with the triumph yet to gain, Came down the serried foe. Who heard the thunder of the fray Break o'er the field beneath, Knew well the watchword of that day Was "Victory or Death."
Long had the doubtful conflict raged O'er all that stricken plain, For never fiercer fight had waged The vengeful blood of Spain; And still the storm of battle blew, Still swelled the gory tide; Not long, our stout old chieftain knew, Such odds his strength could bide.
'Twas in that hour his stern command Called to a martyr's grave The flower of his beloved land, The nation's flag to save. By rivers of their fathers' gore His first-born laurels grew, And well he deemed the sons would pour Their lives for glory too.
Full many a norther's breath has swept O'er Angostura's plain, And long the pitying sky has wept Above its mouldered slain. The raven's scream, or eagle's flight, Or shepherd's pensive lay, Alone awakes each sullen height That frowned o'er that dread fray.
Sons of the Dark and Bloody Ground, Ye must not slumber there, Where stranger steps and tongues resound Along the heedless air. Your own proud land's heroic soil Shall be your fitter grave: She claims from war his richest spoil— The ashes of her brave.
Thus 'neath their parent turf they rest, Far from the gory field, Borne to a Spartan mother's breast On many a bloody shield; The sunshine of their native sky Smiles sadly on them here, And kindred eyes and hearts watch by The heroes' sepulchre.
Rest on, embalmed and sainted dead! Dear as the blood ye gave; No impious footstep here shall tread The herbage of your grave; Nor shall your glory be forgot While Fame her record keeps, Or Honor points the hallowed spot Where Valor proudly sleeps.
Yon marble minstrel's voiceless stone In deathless song shall tell, When many a vanished age hath flown, The story how ye fell; Nor wreck, nor change, nor winter's blight, Nor Time's remorseless doom. Shall dim one ray of glory's light That gilds your deathless tomb.
* * * * *
THE ARSENAL AT SPRINGFIELD.
This is the arsenal. From floor to ceiling, Like a huge organ, rise the burnished arms; But from their silent pipes no anthem pealing Startles the villages with strange alarms.
Ah! what a sound will rise—how wild and dreary— When the death-angel touches those swift keys! What loud lament and dismal miserere Will mingle with their awful symphonies!
I hear even now the infinite fierce chorus— The cries of agony, the endless groan, Which, through the ages that have gone before us, In long reverberations reach our own.
On helm and harness rings the Saxon hammer; Through Cimbric forest roars the Norseman's song; And loud amid the universal clamor, O'er distant deserts sounds the Tartar gong.
I hear the Florentine, who from his palace Wheels out his battle-bell with dreadful din; And Aztec priests upon their teocallis Beat the wild war-drums made of serpents' skin;
The tumult of each sacked and burning village; The shout that every prayer for mercy drowns; The soldiers' revels in the midst of pillage; The wail of famine in beleaguered towns;
The bursting shell, the gateway wrenched asunder, The rattling musketry, the clashing blade— And ever and anon, in tones of thunder, The diapason of the cannonade.
Is it, O man, with such discordant noises, With such accursed instruments as these, Thou drownest nature's sweet and kindly voices, And jarrest the celestial harmonies?
Were half the power that fills the world with terror, Were half the wealth bestowed on camps and courts, Given to redeem the human mind from error, There were no need of arsenals nor forts;
The warrior's name would be a name abhorred; And every nation that should lift again Its hand against a brother, on its forehead Would wear forevermore the curse of Cain!
Down the dark future, through long generations, The echoing sounds grow fainter and then cease; And like a bell, with solemn, sweet vibrations, I hear once more the voice of Christ say, "Peace!"
Peace!—and no longer from its brazen portals The blast of war's great organ shakes the skies; But, beautiful as songs of the immortals, The holy melodies of love arise.
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW.
* * * * *
AN OLD BATTLE-FIELD.
The softest whisperings of the scented South, And rust and roses in the cannon's mouth;
And, where the thunders of the fight were born, The wind's sweet tenor in the standing corn;
With song of larks, low-lingering in the loam, And blue skies bending over love and home.
But still the thought: Somewhere,—upon the hills, Or where the vales ring with the whip-poor-wills,
Sad wistful eyes and broken hearts that beat For the loved sound of unreturning feet,
And, when the oaks their leafy banners wave, Dream of the battle and an unmarked grave!
FRANK LEBBY STANTON.
* * * * *
Once this soft turf, this rivulet's sands, Were trampled by a hurrying crowd, And fiery hearts and armed hands Encountered in the battle-cloud.
Ah! never shall the land forget How gushed the life-blood of her brave,— Gushed, warm with hope and courage yet, Upon the soil they fought to save.
Now all is calm and fresh and still; Alone the chirp of flitting bird, And talk of children on the hill, And bell of wandering kine, are heard.
No solemn host goes trailing by The black-mouthed gun and staggering wain; Men start not at the battle-cry,— O, be it never heard again!
Soon rested those who fought; but thou Who minglest in the harder strife For truths which men receive not now, Thy warfare only ends with life.
A friendless warfare! lingering long Through weary day and weary year; A wild and many-weaponed throng Hang on thy front and flank and rear.
Yet nerve thy spirit to the proof, And blench not at thy chosen lot; The timid good may stand aloof, The sage may frown,—yet faint thou not.
Nor heed the shaft too surely cast, The foul and hissing bolt of scorn; For with thy side shall dwell, at last, The victory of endurance born.
Truth, crushed to earth, shall rise again,— The eternal years of God are hers; But Error, wounded, writhes in pain, And dies among his worshippers.
Yea, though thou lie upon the dust, When they who helped thee flee in fear, Die full of hope and manly trust, Like those who fell in battle here!
Another hand thy sword shall wield, Another hand the standard wave, Till from the trumpet's mouth is pealed The blast of triumph o'er thy grave.
WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT.
* * * * *
HOW SLEEP THE BRAVE.
How sleep the brave who sink to rest By all their country's wishes blest! When Spring, with dewy fingers cold, Returns to deck their hallowed mould, She there shall dress a sweeter sod Than Fancy's feet have ever trod.
By fairy hands their knell is rung By forms unseen their dirge is sung; There Honor comes, a pilgrim gray, To bless the turf that wraps their clay; And Freedom shall awhile repair, To dwell a weeping hermit there!
* * * * *
OUR FALLEN HEROES.
The angel of the nation's peace Has wreathed with flowers the battle-drum; We see the fruiting fields increase Where sound of war no more shall come.
The swallow skims the Tennessee, Soft winds play o'er the Rapidan; There only echo notes of glee, Where gleamed a mighty army's van!
Fair Chattanooga's wooded slope With summer airs is lightly stirred, And many a heart is warm with hope Where once the deep-mouthed gun was heard.
The blue Potomac stainless rolls, And Mission Ridge is gemmed with fern; On many a height sleep gallant souls, And still the blooming years return.
Thank God! unseen to outward eye, But felt in every freeman's breast, From graves where fallen comrades lie Ascends at Nature's wise behest,
With springing grass and blossoms new, A prayer to bless the nation's life, To freedom's flower give brighter hue, And hide the awful stains of strife.
O, Boys in Blue, we turn to you, The scarred and mangled who survive; No more we meet in grand review, But all the arts of freedom thrive.
Still glows the jewel in its shrine, Won where the James now tranquil rolls; Its wealth for all, the glory thine, O memory of heroic souls!
GEORGE BANCROFT GRIFFITH.
* * * * *
THE CAUSE OF THE SOUTH.
FROM "SENTINEL SONGS."
The fallen cause still waits,— Its bard has not come yet, His song—through one of to-morrow's gates Shall shine—but never set.
But when he comes—he'll sweep A harp with tears all stringed, And the very notes he strikes will weep, As they come, from his hand, woe-winged.
Ah! grand shall be his strain, And his songs shall fill all climes, And the Rebels shall rise and march again Down the lines of his glorious rhymes.
And through his verse shall gleam The swords that flashed in vain, And the men who wore the gray shall seem To be marshalling again.
But hush! between his words Peer faces sad and pale, And you hear the sound of broken chords Beat through the poet's wail.
Through his verse the orphans cry— The terrible undertone! And the father's curse and the mother's sigh, And the desolate young wife's moan.
* * * * *
I sing, with a voice too low To be heard beyond to-day, In minor keys of my people's woe; And my songs pass away.
To-morrow hears them not— To-morrow belongs to fame: My songs—like the birds'—will be forgot, And forgotten shall be my name.
And yet who knows! betimes The grandest songs depart, While the gentle, humble, and low-toned rhymes Will echo from heart to heart.
ABRAM JOSEPH RYAN.
* * * * *
When falls the soldier brave Dead—at the feet of wrong,— The poet sings, and guards his grave With sentinels of song.
Songs, march! he gives command, Keep faithful watch and true; The living and dead of the Conquered Land Have now no guards save you.
Grave Ballads! mark ye well! Thrice holy is your trust! Go! halt! by the fields where warriors fell, Rest arms! and guard their dust.
List, Songs! your watch is long! The soldiers' guard was brief, Whilst right is right, and wrong is wrong, Ye may not seek relief.
Go! wearing the gray of grief! Go! watch o'er the Dead in Gray! Go guard the private and guard the chief, And sentinel their clay!
And the songs, in stately rhyme, And with softly sounding tread, Go forth, to watch for a time—a time, Where sleep the Deathless Dead.
And the songs, like funeral dirge, In music soft and low, Sing round the graves,—whilst not tears surge From hearts that are homes of woe.
What though no sculptured shaft Immortalize each brave? What though no monument epitaphed Be built above each grave?
When marble wears away, And monuments are dust,— The songs that guard our soldiers' clay Will still fulfil their trust.
With lifted head, and steady tread, Like stars that guard the skies, Go watch each bed, where rest the dead, Brave Songs! with sleepless eyes.
ABRAM JOSEPH RYAN.
* * * * *
[Sung on the occasion of decorating the graves of the Confederate dead, at Magnolia Cemetery, Charleston, S.C.]
Sleep sweetly in your humble graves,— Sleep, martyrs of a fallen cause! Though yet no marble column craves The pilgrim here to pause,
In seeds of laurel in the earth The blossom of your fame is blown, And somewhere, waiting for its birth, The shaft is in the stone!
Meanwhile, behalf the tardy years Which keep in trust your storied tombs, Behold! your sisters bring their tears, And these memorial blooms.
Small tributes! but your shades will smile More proudly on these wreaths to-day, Then when some cannon-moulded pile Shall overlook this bay.
Stoop, angels, hither from the skies! There is no holier spot of ground Than where defeated valor lies, By mourning beauty crowned!
* * * * *
THE BLUE AND THE GRAY.
[The women of Columbus, Mississippi, strewed flowers alike on the graves of the Confederate and the National soldiers.]
By the flow of the inland river, Whence the fleets of iron have fled, Where the blades of the grave-grass quiver Asleep are the ranks of the dead;— Under the sod and the dew, Waiting the judgment-day;— Under the one, the Blue; Under the other, the Gray.
These in the robing of glory, Those in the gloom of defeat, All with the battle-blood gory, In the dusk of eternity meet;— Under the sod and the dew, Waiting the judgment-day;— Under the laurel, the Blue; Under the willow, the Gray.
From the silence of sorrowful hours The desolate mourners go, Lovingly laden with flowers Alike for the friend and the foe,— Under the sod and the dew, Waiting the judgment-day;— Under the roses, the Blue; Under the lilies, the Gray.
So with an equal splendor The morning sun-rays fall, With a touch, impartially tender, On the blossoms blooming for all;— Under the sod and the dew, Waiting the judgment-day;— 'Broidered with gold, the Blue; Mellowed with gold, the Gray.
So when the summer calleth, On forest and field of grain With an equal murmur falleth The cooling drip of the rain;— Under the sod and the dew. Waiting the judgment-day;— Wet with the rain, the Blue; Wet with the rain, the Gray.
Sadly, but not with upbraiding, The generous deed was done; In the storm of the years that are fading, No braver battle was won;— Under the sod and the dew, Waiting the judgment-day;— Under the blossoms, the Blue; Under the garlands, the Gray.
No more shall the war-cry sever, Or the winding rivers be red; They banish our anger forever When they laurel the graves of our dead! Under the sod and the dew, Waiting the judgment-day;— Love and tears for the Blue, Tears and love for the Gray.
FRANCIS MILES FINCH.
* * * * *
Our fathers' God! from out whose hand The centuries fall like grains of sand, We meet to-day, united, free, And loyal to our land and Thee, To thank Thee for the era done, And trust Thee for the opening one.
Here, where of old, by Thy design, The fathers spake that word of Thine Whose echo is the glad refrain Of rended bolt and falling chain, To grace our festal time, from all The zones of earth our guests we call.
Be with us while the New World greets The Old World thronging all its streets, Unveiling all the triumphs won By art or toil beneath the sun; And unto common good ordain This rivalship of hand and brain.
Thou, who hast here in concord furled The war flags of a gathered world, Beneath our Western skies fulfil The Orient's mission of good-will, And, freighted with love's Golden Fleece, Send back its Argonauts of peace.
For art and labor met in truce, For beauty made the bride of use, We thank Thee; but, withal, we crave The austere virtues strong to save, The honor proof to place or gold, The manhood never bought nor sold!
Oh make Thou us, through centuries long, In peace secure, in justice strong; Around our gift of freedom draw The safeguards of thy righteous law: And, cast in some diviner mould, Let the new cycle shame the old!
JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER.
* * * * *
HYMN OF THE WEST.[A]
WORLD'S FAIR, ST. LOUIS.
[Footnote A: Copyright 1904 by Robert Allan Reid.]
O Thou, whose glorious orbs on high Engird the earth with splendor round, From out Thy secret place draw nigh The courts and temples of this ground; Eternal Light, Fill with Thy might These domes that in Thy purpose grew, And lift a nation's heart anew!