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BY GEORGE PARSONS LATHROP
I The sun had set; The leaves with dew were wet: Down fell a bloody dusk On the woods, that second of May, Where Stonewall's corps, like a beast of prey, Tore through, with angry tusk.
“They've trapped us, boys!”
Rose from our flank a voice.
With a rush of steel and smoke
On came the rebels straight,
Eager as love and wild as hate;
And our line reeled and broke:
Broke and fled.
No one stayed—but the dead!
With curses, shrieks, and cries,
Horses and wagons and men
Tumbled back through the shuddering glen,
And above us the fading skies.
There's one hope still,-
Those batteries parked on the hill!
" Battery, wheel!” (mid the roar)
“Pass pieces; fix prolonge to fire
Retiring. Trot!” In the panic dire
A bugle rings "Trot!”-and no more.
The horses plunged,
The cannon lurched and lunged,
To join the hopeless rout.
But suddenly rode a form
Calmly in front of the human storm,
With a stern, commanding shout:
Align those guns!”
(We knew it was Pleasanton's.)
The cannoneers bent to obey,
And worked with a will at his word:
And the black guns moved as if they had heard.
But ah the dread delay!
“ To wait is crime;
O God, for ten minutes' time!”
The General looked around.
There Keenan sat, like a stone,
With his three hundred horse alone,
Less shaken than the ground.
Major, your men ? ” “Are soldiers, General.” “Then Charge, Major! Do your best: Hold the enemy back, at all cost, Till my guns are placed,-else the army is lost. You die to save the rest!"
By the shrouded gleam of the western skies,
Brave Keenan looked into Pleasanton's eyes
For an instant,-clear, and cool, and still;
Then, with a smile, he said: "I will."
“Cavalry, charge!” Not a man of them shrank.
Their sharp, full cheer, from rank on rank,
Rose joyously, with a willing breath, -
Rose like a greeting hail to death.
Then forward they sprang, and spurred and clashed;
Shouted the officers, crimson-sashed;
Rode well the men, each brave as his fellow,
In their faded coats of the blue and yellow;
And above in the air, with an instinct true,
Like a bird of war their pennon flew.
With clank of scabbards and thunder of steeds,
And blades that shine like sunlit reeds,
And strong brown faces bravely pale
For fear their proud attempt shall fail,
Three hundred Pennsylvanians close
On twice ten thousand gallant foes.
Line after line the troopers came
To the edge of the wood that was ringed with flame;
Rode in and sabered and shot_and fell;
Nor came one back his wounds to tell.
And full in the midst rose Keenan, tall
In the gloom, like a martyr awaiting his fall,
While the circle-stroke of his 'saber, swung
'Round his head, like a halo there, luminous hung.
Line after line—ay, whole platoons,
Struck dead in their saddlesof brave dragoons
By the maddened horses were onward borne
And into the vortex flung, trampled and torn;
As Keenan fought with his men, side by side.
So they rode, till there were no more to ride.
But over them, lying there, shattered and mute,
What deep echo rolls ?_'Tis a death-salute
From the cannon in place; for, heroes, you braved
Your fate not in vain: the army was saved !
Over them now-year following year-
Over their graves the pine-cones fall,
And the whippoorwill chants his specter-call;
But they stir not again; they raise no cheer;
They have ceased. But their glory shall never cease,
Nor their light be quenched in the light of peace.
The rush of their charge is resounding still
That saved the army at Chancellorsville.
(During the battles in the Wilderness at the beginning of the campaign of 1864, General Robert E. Lee, impressed with the desperate necessity of carrying a certain peculiarly difficult position, seized the colors of a Texas regiment and undertook to lead the perilous assault in person. The troops and their colonel remonstrated with vehemence, the colonel, in his men's behalf, pledging the regiment to carry the position if General Lee would retire. The troops advanced to the charge shouting “Lee to the Rear!” as a sort of battle cry.-From American War Ballads and Lyrics.)
Dawn of a pleasant morning in May
Broke through the Wilderness cool and gray;
While perched in the tallest treetops, the birds
Were caroling 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,
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
Yet louder the thunder of battler roared-
Yet a deadlier fire on the columns poured;