The Tale of the One Armed

This poem  chronicals the story of 4 brothers in the war and their own seperate fates.

The Tale of The One Armed

W. E. Credesly

His form was straight as the pine whose peak

Pierces the Southern clouds.

As children group when their grandsires speak

Of some fairy scene, or some goblins freak

We stood in the list’ning crowds.

His sleeve hung shrunken and loose by his side

His forehead was pale and wan

But he eyed his stump with a warriors pride

And his narrative began

And we heard him tell, as our watch-fire bright

Threw a smile on the frowning brow of night

The tale of the one-armed man


“Where Hudson’s waves, with liquid song

The rocky heights caress.

My native cot the rock among

O’er hangs their loveliness

But Freedom’s shriek thought the nation rang

I left my home for the bugles clang

Myself and brothers three

Left my mother whose silver hair

Pressed my breast as her farewell prayer

Arose to heaven for me


Her eyes were dim with falling tears

A mother’s love, a mother’s fears

Were swelling in her heart

But said “good-bye” for her will was steel

Though her heart would show the struggle real

To see her boys depart

Saw the hopes of her years three-score

Leave her hearth for the battle’s din

Her greatest grief she had but four

To aid the land their home was in


“My eldest brother loved to roam

On the breast of the ocean wave.

The Navy gave a sailor’s home

And he sleeps in a sailor’s grave

Died at his post in Hampton Bay

Where the Cumberland’s thunders were vain

Deep in the wave her torn hulk lay

But her flag still waved o’er the main”


“Three of us pitched our tents on the sand

Skirting Point Royal Bay

And leaped with glee as we trod the land

Grasping our steel with a free man’s hand

While waved our banner gay

But swamp winds heavy with chilly death

Swept through the air with poisonous breath

Opening graves by the score”

“The youngest of our little flock

Never lived to feel the battle shock

He sleeps ‘neath pine trees hoar

Sleeps till the last dead trumpet’s blast

Wakes from the dead their silent rest

As earthquakes shaking mountains vast

Disclose the gems that deck their breast”


“Week after week rolled slowly by

Like clouds athwart the sun

Our thoughts were stained with a gloomy dye

With guard and picket, and midnight scout

Through the swamps and wood around about

We waited coming spring

When we saw the sun with ruddy glow

Gleam bright on the shores of Edisto

Smiling our welcoming”


“Now waved our banner on James Isle

The amorous zephyrs gave

It’s silken folds to the sunbeam’s smile

Raising them close to Heaven e’er while

As the staff would let them wave

Our soldiers stood in a long dark line

No bullet was in our guns

Waiting to hear from our chief the sign

Of moving still columns

The Rebel cannon frowned black and grim

On breast works high and large

And Stevens smiled as we learned from him

The shout ” Prepare to charge”

Forward, through Minnie and bursting shell

Cleaving the air with our battle yell

While shining bayonets

Poured forth like a wave on the breastwork’s slope

Glistening, and sparkling, and dashing up

O’er earthen parapets

But ah! We saw another force

Come hastening on our right

We looked in vain for fresh supports

To aid us in the fight

While ceaseless through our thinning ranks

Ran death shots to and fro

Back in the steps of our advance

Marched sullen and slow

While spurting blood and crashing bones

With cries of pain and stifled groans

Rang in that sad retreat

While marching on by my brothers side

I saw him fall, while his life blood dyed

The grass beneath my feet

Saw the last of my brothers three

Cross the stream to eternity”


“I felt a pang at my shoulder and my memory failed me then

And many days passed o’er my head e’er reason reigned again”


Now with his dust stained blouse he swept

One shining tear away

That softly on his lids had crept

To hear the mournful lay

Then slowly from our eager gaze

His stalwart form he bore

And ‘neath our watch-fire’s cheerful blaze


We saw his face no more.


Published in: on August 7, 2010 at 6:51 pm  Comments Off on The Tale of the One Armed  
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