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Flashed with a purpose grand,
Jong ere the sharp command
Of the fierce rolling drum
Told them their time had come,
Told them what work was sent
For the black regiment.
“Now,” the flag-sergeant cried,
“Though death and and hell betide,
Let the whole nation see
If we are fit to be
Free in this land; or bound
Down, like the whining hound,
Bound with red stripes of pain
In our cold chains again !”
Oh, what a shout there went
From the black regiment !
“Charge !” trump and drum awoke;
Onward the bondsmen broke;
Bayonet and sabre-stroke
Vainly opposed their rush.
Through the wild battle's crush,
With but one thought aflush,
Driving their lords like chaff,
In the gun's mouth they laugh;
Or at the slippery brands,
Leaping with open hands,
Down they tear man and horse,
Down in their awful course;
Trampling with bloody heel
Over the crushing steel,-
All their eyes forward bent,
Rushed the black regiment.
“Freedom!” their battle-cry,-
“Freedom ! or leave to die ! ”
Ah ! and they meant the word,
Not as with us 't is heard,
Not a mere party shout;
They gave their spirits out,
Trusted the end to God,
And on the gory sod
Rolled in triumphant blood.
Glad to strike one free blow.
Whether for weal or woe;
Glad to breathe one free breath,
Though on the lips of death ;
Praying,—alas ! in vain !
That they might fall again,
So they could once more see
That burst to liberty !
This was what “freedom” lent
To the black regiment.
Hundreds on hundreds fell;
But they are resting well ;
LITTLE GIFFEN OF TENNESSEE.
UT of the focal and foremost fire,
Out of the hospital walls as dire,
Smitten of grape-shot and gangrene,
(Eighteenth battle, and he sixteen !)
Spectre such as we seldom see,
Little Giffen of Tennessee !
“ Take him—and welcome !” the surgeon said; “Much your doctor can help the dead !” And so we took him and brought him where The balm was sweet on the summer air ; And we laid him down on a wholesome bedUtter Lazarus, heel to head !
Weary war with the bated breath,
Skeleton boy against skeleton Death,
Months of torture, how many such !
Weary weeks of the stick and crutch !
Still a glint in the steel-blue eye
Spoke of the spirit that would not die,
Little Giffen of Tennessee
And did n't nay, more! in death's despite
The crippled skeleton learned to write !
“Dear mother," at first, of course; and then,
“Dear captain "_inquiring about “the men.”
Captain's answer—“Of eighty and five,
Giffen and I are left alive!"
“Johnston 's pressed at the front, they say!” Little Giffen was up and away. A tear, his first, as he bade good-by, Dimmed the glint of his steel-blue eye; “I'll write, if spared.” There was news of a fight, But none of Giffen. He did not write!
I sometimes fancy that were I king
Of the princely knights of the Golden Ring,
With the song of the minstrel in mine ear,
And the tender legend that trembles here,
I'd give the best, on his bended knee,
The whitest soul of my chivalry,
For Little Giffen of Tennessee !