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"STA

TAND to your guns, men !” Morris cried.

Small need to pass the word ;
Our men at quarters ranged themselves,

Before the drum was heard.

And then began the sailors' jests:

“What thing is that, I say?" A ’long-shore meeting-house adrift

Is standing down the bay !”

A frown came over Morris' face;

The strange, dark craft he knew; “That is the iron Merrimac,

Manned by a rebel crew.

“So shot your guns, and point them straight;

Before this day goes by,
We 'll try of what her metal 's made.”
A cheer was our reply.

On Board the Cumberland

39

“Remember boys, this flag of ours

Has seldom left its place;
And where it falls, the deck it strikes

Is covered with disgrace.

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Meanwhile the shapeless iron mass

Came moving o'er the wave, As gloomy as a passing hearse,

As silent as the grave.

Her ports were closed, from stem to stem

No sign of life appeared.
We wondered, questioned, strained our eyes,
Joked,-every thing but feared.

She reached our range. Our broadside rang,

Our heavy pivots roared ;
And shot and shell, a fire of hell,

Against her sides we poured.

God's mercy! from her sloping roof

The iron tempest glanced,
As hail bounds from a cottage-thatch,

And round ber leaped and danced ;

Or, when against her dusky bull

We struck a fair, full blow, The mighty, solid iron globes

Were crumbled up like snow.

On, on, with fast increasing speed,

The silent monster came; Though all our starboard battery

Was one long line of flame.

See heeded not, nor gun she fired,

Straight on our bow she bore; Through riving plank and crashing frame

Her furious way she tore.

Alas! our beautiful, keen bow,

That in the fiercest blast
So gently folded back the seas,

They hardly felt we passed !

Alas ! Alas! My Cumberland,

That ne'er knew grief before, To be so gored, to feel so deep

The tusk of that sea-boar !

Once more she backward drew a space,

Once more our side she rent; Then, in the wantonness of hate,

Her broadside through us sent.

On Board tbe Cumberland

41

The dead and dying round us lay,

But our foeman lay abeam;
Her open portholes maddened us;

We fired with shout and scream.

We felt our vessel settling fast,

We knew our time was brief; "The pumps, the pumps !” But they who pumped

And fought not, wept with grief.

Oh, keep us but an hour afloat !

Oh, give us only time
To be the instruments of heaven

Against the traitors' crime!”

From captain down to powder-boy,

No hand was idle then;
Two soldiers, but by chance aboard,

Fought on like sailor-men.

And when a gun's crew lost a hand,

Some bold marine stepped out, And jerked his braided jacket off,

And hauled the gun about.

Our forward magazine was drowned;

And up from the sick-bay
Crawled out the wounded, red with blood,

And round us gasping lay.

Yes, cheering, calling us by name,

Struggling with failing breath,
To keep their shipmates at the port,

While glory strove with death.

With decks afloat, and powder gone,

The last broadside we gave From the guns' heated iron lips

Burst out beneath the wave.

So sponges, rammers, and handspikes

As men-of-war's men should-
We placed within their proper racks,

And at our quarters stood.

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“Up to the spar-deck! Save yourselves !”

Cried Selfridge. “Up, my men ! God grant that some of us may live

To fight yon ship again !”

We turned-we did not like to go;

Yet staying seemed but vain, Knee-deep in water; so we left;

Some swore, some groaned with pain.

We reached the deck. Here Randall stood:

“Another turn, men-so!” Calmly he aimed his pivot-gun :

“Now, Tenney, let her go !”

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