Dedicated, Consecrated, and Hallowed

Within the many National Military Cemetaries and National Parks around the United States can be found very beautiful markers and memorials telling of the heroic deeds done by those in our nation’s past. For example:

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These are just a few of the many, many statues and memorials in honor of the brave and the true, living and dead who served in the Civil War. Scattered throughout most national cemeteries are selected stanzas from the poem Bivouac of the Dead by Theodore O’Hara.  Here is that poem.

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 plumèd 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 never more 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.

‘T was 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 father’s 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 the mouldering 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.
So, ‘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.

Published in: on February 13, 2011 at 3:19 pm  Comments (120)  

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  

A Message

This is a poem about a man killed at the Battle of Malvern Hill and the message he sent after he was wounded.

A Message
E. S. P. Ward (1844- 1911)

Was there ever a message sweeter                                                                                              

Than that one from Malvern Hill                                                                                                     

From a grim old fellow- you remember                                                                                         

Dying in the dark at Malvern Hill                                                                                                   

With his rough face turned a little                                                                                                   

On a heap of scarlet sand

They found him just within the thicket

With a picture in his hand

With a stained and crumpled picture

 Of a women’s aged face

 Yet there seemed to leap a wild entreaty

Young and living- tender from the face

 When they flashed the lantern on it

Gilding all the purple shade

 And they stooped to raise him softly

 “That’s my mother sir” he said

 “Tell her”- but he wandered, slipping

 Into tangled words and cries

 Something about Mac and Hooker

Some thing dropping through the cries

 About the kitten by the fire

 And mother’s cranberry-pies and there

The words fell and an utter silence brooded in the air

 Just as he was drifting from them

Out into the dark alone

(Poor old mother waiting for your message

 Waiting with the kitten all alone!)

Through the hush his voice, “Tell her

 Thank you Doctor- when you can

Tell her that I kissed her picture

 And wished that I’d been a better man

 Ah, I wonder if the red feet

Of departed battle-hours

May not leave for us their searching Message from those distant hours.

 Sisters, daughters, mothers, think you

 Would your heroes now or then

 Dying, kiss your pictured faces

 Wishing they’d been better men?

This is dedicated to all the men who died without saying good bye to loved ones.

Published in: on August 6, 2010 at 12:11 am  Comments Off on A Message  

Little Giffen

The Literature of the Civil War is fascinating to me. So in light of this my next posts for this next week will all be poemse or stories from the Civil War era. My first post on this subject will be the poem called Little Giffen.

Little Giffen                                                                                                                                                                  Francis O. Ticknor  (1822-1874)                                                                          

 Out of the focal and the foremost fire                                                                                                                       

Out of the hospital walls as dire                                                                                                                        

Smitten of grape-shot and gangrene                                                                                                             

(eighteenth battle and he sixteen)                                                                                                                         

Spectre such as you seldom see                                                                                                                               

Little Giffen of Tennessee

“Take him and welcome!” the surgeons said                                                                                                              

“Little the doctor can help the dead!”                                                                                                                         

So we took him and brought him where                                                                                                                

The balm was sweet in the summer air                                                                                                                   

And we laid him down on a wholesome bed                                                                                                      

Utter Lazarus, heel to head!

And we watched the war with abated breath                                                                                                   

Skeleton boy against skeleton death                                                                                                                    

Months of torture, how many such                                                                                                                     

Weary weeks of the stick and crutch                                                                                                                      

And still a glint of the steel-blue eye                                                                                                                     

Told of a spirit that wouldn’t die

And didn’t, Nay more! In death’s despite                                                                                                              

The crippled skeleton learned to write                                                                                                               

“Dear Mother” at first of course and then                                                                                                            

“Dear Captain” inquiring about the men                                                                                                       

Captain’s answer “Of eighty-and-five                                                                                                                  

Giffen and I are left alive”

Words of gloom from the war, one day                                                                                                      

“Johnston pressed at the front they say”                                                                                                           

Little Giffen was up and away                                                                                                                                           

A tear-his first as he bade good-bye                                                                                                                   

Dimmed the glint of his steel-blue eye                                                                                                                    

“I’ll write if spared!” There was news of the fight                                                                                                 

But none of Giffen, he did not write

I sometimes fancy that I were a king                                                                                                                         

Of the princely knights of the Golden Ring                                                                                                            

With the song of the minstrel in mine ear                                                                                                              

And the tender legend that trembles here                                                                                                             

I’d give the best on his bended knee                                                                                                                       

The whitest soul of my chivalry                                                                                                                                 

For little Giffen of Tennessee

I dedicate this to all the boys who died during the Civil War on both sides.

Published in: on August 4, 2010 at 3:11 am  Comments (2)  

The House That Jeff Built

This is a clever poem written about the Confederacy and Jefferson Davis. As you read through the poem you will see that each new item or person introduced takes something away from the house that Jeff built.

The House That Jeff Built: Author unknown

I. The Southern Confederacy: This is the house that Jeff built

II. The Ethiopian: This is the malt that lay in the house that Jeff built

III. The Underground Railroad: This is the rat that ate the malt that lay in the house Jeff built

IV. The Fugitive Slave Law: This is the cat that killed the rat that ate the malt that lay in the house that Jeff built

V. The Personal Liberty Bill: This is the dog that worried the cat that killed the rat that ate the malt that lay in the house that Jeff built

VI. Chief Justice Taney: This is the cow with the crumpled horn that tossed the dog that worried the cat that killed the rat that ate the malt that lay in the house that Jeff built

VII. James Buhanan: This is the maiden all forlorn that milked the cow with the crumpled horn that tossed the dog that worried the cat that killed the rat that ate the malt that lay in the house Jeff built

VIII. C. Cesh: This is the man all tattered and torn that married the maiden all forlorn that milked the cow with the cumpled horn  that tossed the dog that worried the cat that killed the rat that ate the malt that lay in the house that Jeff built

IX. Plunder: This is the priest all shaven and shorn that married the man all tattered and torn to the maiden all forlorn that milked the cow with crumpled horn that tossed the dog that worried the cat that killed the rat that ate the malt that lay in the house that Jeff built.

Published in: on June 30, 2010 at 2:49 am  Comments Off on The House That Jeff Built  

The Blue And Grey

The Blue And The Gray
Francis Miles Finch (1827-1907)

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 robings 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 judgement-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 judgement-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 adn 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.

Published in: on November 7, 2009 at 8:13 pm  Comments Off on The Blue And Grey  

Another poem

This one is written by walt Whitman

O Captain! My Captain!

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up–for you the flag is flung–for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribboned wreaths–for you the shores
a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchored safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

Published in: on November 5, 2009 at 2:18 pm  Comments Off on Another poem  

The Flag of the Union

The Flag Of Our Union

by George Phillips Morris

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“A song for our banner?” – The watchword recall
Which gave the Republic her station:
“United we stand – divided we fall!” –
It made and preserves us a nation!
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The union of lakes – the union of lands –
The union of States none can sever –
The union of hearts – the union of hands –
And the Flag of the Union for ever
And ever!
The Flag of our Union for ever
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What God in his mercy and wisdom designed,
And armed with his weapons of thunder,
Not all the earth’s despots and factions combined
Have the power to conquer or sunder!

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Oh, keep that flag flying! – The pride of the van!
To all other nations display it!
The ladies for union are all to a – man!
But not to the man who’d betray it.

Thanks to www.home.att.net for the poem

Published in: on November 4, 2009 at 11:52 pm  Comments Off on The Flag of the Union  

A Smoking His Cigar

At Donelson the rebel horde
Had gathered in their might,
Determined there with fire and sword
To make a dreadful fight.
But gallant Foote, with his command
Swept “in” by water route,
While Grant besieged upon the land,
And smoked the rebels “out.”

Where volleyed thunder loudest pealed,
Along the front of war,
The Gen’ral calmly viewed the field,
A smoking his cigar.

And Beauregard did swear, methinks,
Upon his bended knee,
That his good horse should have some drinks,
All from the Tennessee;
But oh! a “dip twixt cup and lip”
That sweet illusion broke;
For Grant just smote ’em thigh and hip,
And made the rebels smoke.

The doughty Pem, at Vicksburg, too,
Did naught of Yankees fear;
Grant passed his guns in quick review
And gained the city’s rear.
He pitched his tent, deployed his force
And lighted his cigar,Said he, “Misguided lads, of course,
You know just where you are.”

And now, let politicans wait
There’s work for men to do;
We’ll place one in the Chair of State
Who wears the army blue.
The people know just what they want
LESS TALK, and no more war
For PRESIDENT, ULYSSES GRANT
A-SMOKING HIS CIGAR!

photo of U.S.Grant

This poem was written as a campaign song for General Grant

Published in: on November 3, 2009 at 12:07 am  Comments Off on A Smoking His Cigar  

To Carolina

 Sister Carrie my dear
I am sorry to hear
That you are intending to leave us
They say its a fact
That your trunk is all packed
And you hope by such conduct to grieve us

You have always been naughty
And willfull and saucy
Like a spoiled minx as you are
So vain of your beauty
Forgetfull of duty
You owe to indulgent Papa

I am sure you can’t say
You’ve not had your way
In each of our family’s broils
While I vow and declare
You’ve had your full share
In each of the national spoils

Just wait for a season
And listen to reason
Nor believe what your false lovers say
And their flattering lies
Will bring you to ruin some day

Though they promise so fair
Gay deceivers they are
From the one whom last evening you kissed
To Hammond and Rhett
And chivalrous Kelt
Orr, Memminger,piekins, and Gist

Some day all forlorn
Bedraggeled and torn
Like the prodical son in his need
You will knock at the door
And come home once more
Nor venture again to secede

Now be warned of your fate
Before its to late
Like a dear little innocent lamb
And do not forget
All the kindness of good Uncle Sam

The Palmetto tree
No shelter will be
When the dark clouds of anarchy tower
You will long for a rest
Of your own eagles nest
And the strong arm of Federal Power

Then dear little sis
Now give me a kiss
To make up these family jars
Seccession shall never
This Union dissever
Hurrah! for the Stripes and the Stars

This poem was written by Walt Whitman and is talking about the seccession of South Carolina

 walt-whitman

Published in: on November 2, 2009 at 1:31 am  Comments Off on To Carolina