« EelmineJätka »
TAND to your guns, men !” Morris cried.
Small need to pass the word ;
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,
On Board the Cumberland
“Remember boys, this flag of ours
Has seldom left its place;
Is covered with disgrace.
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.
She reached our range. Our broadside rang,
Our heavy pivots roared ;
Against her sides we poured.
God's mercy! from her sloping roof
The iron tempest glanced,
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
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
The dead and dying round us lay,
But our foeman lay abeam;
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
Against the traitors' crime!”
From captain down to powder-boy,
No hand was idle then;
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
And round us gasping lay.
Yes, cheering, calling us by name,
Struggling with failing breath,
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-
And at our quarters stood.
“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 !”