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THE OLD SERGEANT.

BY FORCEYTHE WILLSON.

OME a little nearer, Doctor,—thank you !-let me

: Draw your chair up,-draw it closer,-just another little

Co take the cup

sup!

Maybe you may think I'm better ; but I'm pretty well

used up,

Doctor, you've done all you could do, but I'm just a

going up! “Feel my pulse, sir, if you want to, but it ain't much

use to try—" “Never say that,” said the surgeon, as he smothered

down a sigh ; “ It will never do, old comrade, for a soldier to say die !" “What you say will make no difference, Doctor, when

you come to die.

Doctor, what has been the matter ?—“You were very

faint, they say; You must try to get to sleep now. Doctor, have I

been away?”

Tbe Old Sergeant

49

“Not that anybody knows of!”. “ Doctor – Doctor,

please to stay! There is something I must tell you, and you won't have

long to stay!

“I have got my marching orders, and I'm ready now to

go; Doctor, did you say I fainted !-But it could n't ha' been

SO, — For as sure as I 'm a Sergeant, and was wounded at

Shiloh, I've this very night been back there, on the old field of

Shiloh !

“This is all that I remember : The last time the lighter

came, And the lights had all been lowered, and the noises much

the same,

He had not been gone five minntes before something

called my name : 'ORDERLY SERGEANT—ROBERT BURTON !'—just that

way it called my name.

“And I wondered who could call me so distinctly and so

slow, Knew it could n't be the lighter,-he could not have

spoken so;

Vol. II.

And I tried to answer, ‘Here, sir!' but I could n't make

it go! For I could n't move a muscle, and I could n't make it

go!

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“Then I thought: It's all a nightmare, all a humbug

and a bore : Just another foolish grapevine *—and it won't come any

more; But it came, sir, notwithstanding, just the same way as

before : 'ORDERLY SERGEANT-ROBERT BURTON!' even plainer

than before.

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“That is all that I remember, till a sudden burst of

light, And I stood beside the river, where we stood that Sunday

night, Waiting to be ferried over to the dark bluffs opposite, When the river was perdition and all hell was opposite !

“And the same old palpitation came again in all its

power, And I heard a bugle sounding, as from some celestial

tower ;

* The troops during the war were accustomed to express their incredulity, when news could not be traced to a trustworthy source, by saying that the tidings had been received by “grapevine telegraph.” Hence a canard was called a “grapevine."-EDITOR.

The Old Sergeant

51

And the same mysterious voice said: 'IT IS THE ELEV

ENTH HOUR ! ORDERLY SERGEANT-ROBERT BURTON-IT IS THE

ELEVENTH HOUR!'

“Doctor Austin !—what day is this?”-“It is Wednes

nesday night, you know.“Yes,—to-morrow will be New Year's, and a right good

time below! What time is it, Doctor Austin ?"-"Nearly twelve."

“ Then don't you go!” Can it be that all this happened-all this-not an hour

ago!

"There was where the gun-boats opened on the dark,

rebellious host, And where Webster semi-circled his last guns upon the

coast; There were still the two log-houses, just the same, or

else their ghost, — And the same old transport came and took me over

or its ghost !

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"And the old field lay before me all deserted far and

wide; There was where they fell on Prentice,—there McCler

nand met the tide;

There was where stern Sherman rallied, and where

Hurlbut's heroes died, Lower down, where Wallace charged them, and kept

charging till he died.

“There was where Lew Wallace showed them he was of

the canny kin, There was where old Nelson thundered, and where

Rousseau waded in; Then McCook sent 'em to breakfast and we all began

to winThere was where the grape-shot took me, just as we

began to win.

“Now, a shroud of snow and silence over every thing

was spread; And but for this old blue mantle and the old hat on

my head, I should not have even doubted, to this moment I was

dead, For my footsteps were as silent as the snow upon the

dead !

Death and silence !-Death and silence ! all around

me as I sped! And behold a mighty TOWER, as if builded to the dead, To the Heaven of the heavens, lifted up its mighty head, Till the Stars and Stripes of Heaven all seemed waving

from its head!

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