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Slaughter infernal rode with Despair,
Furies twain, through the murky air.

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Not far off, in the saddle there sat
A gray-bearded man in a black slouched hat;
Not much moved by the fire was he,
Calm and resolute Robert Lee.

Quick and watchful he kept his eye
On the bold Rebel brigades close by,-
Reserves that were standing (and dying) at ease,
While the tempest of wrath toppled over the trees.

For still with their loud, deep, bulldog bay,
The Yankee batteries blazed away,
And with every murderous second that sped
A dozen brave fellows, alas! fell dead.

The grand old graybeard rode to the space
Where Death and his victims stood face to face,
And silently waved his old slouched hat-
A world of meaning there was in that!

“Follow me! Steady! We'll save the day!”

This was what he seemed to say;
And to the light of his glorious eye
The bold brigades thus made reply:

“We'll go forward, but you must go back "And they moved not an inch in the perilous track; “Go to the rear, and we'll send them to hell!” And the sound of the battle was lost in their yell.

Turning his bridle, Robert Lee
Rode to the rear. Like waves of the sea,
Bursting the dykes in their overflow,
Madly his veterans dashed on the foe.

And backward in terror that foe was driven,
Their banners rent and their columns riven,
Wherever the tide of battle rolled
Over the Wilderness, wood and wold.

Sunset out of a crimson sky
Streamed o'er a field of ruddier dye,
And the brook ran on with a purple stain,
From the blood of ten thousand foemen slain.

Seasons have passed since that day and year-
Again o'er its pebbles the brook runs clear,
And the field in a richer green is drest,
Where the dead of a terrible conflict rest.

Hushed is the roll of the Rebel drum,
The sabers are sheathed, and the cannon are dumb;
And Fate, with his pitiless hand, has furled
The flag that once challenged the gaze of the world;

But the fame of the Wilderness fight abides;
And down into history grandly rides,
Calm and unmoved as in battle he sat,
The gray-bearded man in the black slouched hat.


May, 1864


O did you see him in the street, dressed up in army

blue, When drums and trumpets into town their storm of

music threwA louder tune than all the winds could muster in the

air, The Rebel winds, that tried so hard our flag in strips

to tear?

You didn't mind him? Oh, you looked beyond him

then, perhaps, To see the mounted officers, rigged out with trooper

caps, And shiny clothes, and sashes, and epaulets and all; It wasn't for such things as these he heard his country


She asked for men; and up he spoke, my handsome,

hearty Sam, “ I'll die for the dear old Union, if she'll take me as

I am.” And if a better man than he there's mother that can

show, From Maine to Minnesota, then let the nation know!

* By permission of the publishers, Houghton, Mifflin & Co.

You would not pick him from the rest by eagles or

by stars, By straps upon his coat-sleeve, or gold or silver bars; Nor a corporal's strip of worsted; but there's some

thing in his face, And something in his even step, a-marching in his


That couldn't be improved by all the badges in the

land: A patriot, and a good, strong man; are generals much

more grand ? We rest our pride on that big heart wrapped up in

army-blue, The girl he loves, Mehitabel, and I, who love him too.

He's never shirked a battle yet, though frightful risks

he's run,

Since treason flooded Baltimore, the spring of Sixty

One; Through blood and storm he's held out firm, nor fret

ted once, my Sam, At swamps of Chickahominy, or fields of Antietam.

Though many a time, he's told us, when he saw them

lying dead, The boys that came from Newburyport, and Lynn,

and Marblehead, Stretched out upon the trampled turf, and wept on by

the sky, It seemed to him the Commonwealth had drained her

life-blood dry.

But then,” he said, “the more's the need the coun

try has of me: To live and fight the war all through, what glory it

will be ! The Rebel balls don't hit me; and, mother, if they

should, You'll know I've fallen in my place, where I have

always stood.”

He's taken out his furlough, and short enough it

seemed: I often tell Mehitabel he'll think he only dreamed Of walking with her nights so bright you couldn't see

a star, And hearing the swift tide come in across the harbor


The Stars that shine above the Stripes, they light him

southward now; The tide of war has swept him back; he's made a

solemn vow To build himself no home-nest till his country's work

is done; God bless the vow, and speed the work, my patriot,

my son!

And yet it is a pretty place where his new house

might be; An orchard-road that leads your eye straight out upon

the sea.

The boy not work his father's farm? it seems almost

a shame; But any selfish plan for him he's never let me name.

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