Archive for the ‘Poetry and Pictures’ Category

The Drummer Boy of Shiloh

October 23, 2009

 

THE DRUMMER BOY OF SHILOH

By William Hodges

 

On Shiloh’s dark and bloody ground, the dead and wounded lay; Amongst them was a drummer boy, who beat the drum that day. A wounded soldier held him up, his drum was by his side, He clasped his hands, then raised his eyes,  and prayed before he died.“Oh Mother” said the dying boy, “Look down from heaven on me; Receive me to thy fond embrace. Oh take me home to thee.  I’ve loved my country and my God.  To serve them both I’ve tried.”  He smiled, shook hands.  Death seized the boy, Who prayed before he died.  Each soldier wept then like a child,  Stout hearts were they and brave;  The flag his winding sheet, God’s Book  The key into his grave.  They wrote upon a single board,  These words: “This is a guide  To those who mourn the drummer boy,  Who prayed before he died.”  Ye angels ‘round the throne of grace,  Look down upon the braves  Who fought and died on Shiloh’s plain,  Now slumbering in their graves. How many homes made desolate,  How many hearts have sighed, How many like the drummer boy, Who prayed before he died.

Drummer Boy by Nast

Drummer Boy by Nast

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The snowball fight

October 23, 2009
Snowball fight at Fredericksburg

Snowball fight at Fredericksburg

 

Regiments of Confederate soldiers relieve the tedium of their winter bivouac near Fredericksburg with a huge snowball fight that ultimately involved 9,000 officers and men.  The good-humored battle was touched off on January 29, 1863, by spirited Texas and Georgia troops, many of whom had never seen snow before.

The Last Words of Stonewall Jackson

September 15, 2009

 

Stonewall Jackson engraving by C.A. Powell taken from a photograph taken in Winchester, VA, in 1862

Stonewall Jackson engraving by C.A. Powell taken from a photograph taken in Winchester, VA, in 1862

Last photograph of Stonewall Jackson
Last photograph of Stonewall Jackson

The Last Words of Stonewall Jackson

 

 

 

By Mrs. J. William Jones

 

Brilliant, complete, but O how brief

Were the chivalrous deeds of the world’s great chief!

But crowded within that little span

Were records of glory scarce known to man.

 

Two continents watched with wonder and awe

As he sprang, full armed, from the god of war;

That quiet Professor, unknown to the world,

This offspring of thunder was suddenly hurled.

 

Into the arena, with God as his guide,

He fearlessly charged the great odds he defied;

And victory followed that old coat of gray

Till furrowed by bullets that ill-fated day.

 

On Sunday he heard that the end was so near,

When calmly he said without tremor or fear:

“I have always wanted to die on this day.”

So the way of the Father was Stonewall’s way.

 

With feverish brain, he’s a soldier still—

Crisp orders he sends to A.P. Hill.

The fire of battle burns in his eyes—

A warrior grand, though he lowly lies.

 

The soldier grows weary, the camp is in sight,

His countenance beams with celestial light.

“Let us cross over”—into heaven he sees—

“The river and rest ‘neath the shade of the trees.”

 

Richmond, Va, May 28, 1900

stonewall last

A Southern Mother’s Charge

August 25, 2009

Mother of Sam Davis

mother of Sam DavisTHE SOUTHERN MOTHER’S CHARGE
by Anonymous

The Southern Mother’s charge to her Son on his departure
to Virginia to defend his country’s rights and honor.

You go, my son, to the battle-field
To repel the invading foe;
‘Mid its fiercest conflicts never yield

Till death shall lay you low.

Our God, who smiles upon the Right,
And frowns upon the Wrong,
Will nerve you for our holy fight,
And make your courage strong.

Our cause is just. For it we pray
At morning, noon and night;
Upon our banners we inscribe
God, Liberty and Right.

I love you as my life,
My dear beloved son;
Your country calls–go forth and fight
Till Freedom’s cause is won.

It may be that you fall in death,
Contending for your home,
Yet your aged mother will not be
Forsaken, though alone.

A thousand generous hearts there are
Throughout this sunny land,
Whose ample fortunes will be spent
With an unsparing hand.

Now go, my son; a mother’s prayers
Will ever follow thee;
And in the thickest of the fight
Strike home for liberty.

On every hill, in every glen,
We’ll fight till we are free–
We’ll fight till every limpid brook
Runs crimson to the sea.

No truce we know, till every foe
Shall leave our hallowed sod,
And we regain that Heaven born boon–
“Freedom to worship God.”

sam davis stone

High Tide at Gettysburg

August 25, 2009

armistead

THE HIGH TIDE

 

ARMISTEAD AT GETTYSBURG
by Will Henry Thompson

 

 

 

 

Painting by Mort Kuntzler

A cloud possessed the hollow field,
The gathering battle’s smoky shield:
   Athwart the gloom the lightning flashed,
   And through the cloud some horsemen dashed,
And from the heights the thunder pealed.

Then, at the brief command of Lee,
Moved out that matchless infantry,
   With Pickett leading grandly down,
   To rush against the roaring crown
Of those dread heights of destiny.

Far heard above the angry guns
A cry across the tumult runs,–
   The voice that rang from Shilo’s woods
   And Chickamauga’s solitudes,
The fierce South cheering on her sons!

Ah, how the withering tempest blew
Against the front of Pettigrew!
   A Khamsin wind that scorched and singed
    Like that infernal flame that fringed
The British squares at Waterloo!

A thousand fell where Kemper led;
A thousand died where Garnett bled:
   In blinding flame and strangling smoke
   Their remnant through the batteries broke
And crossed the works with Armistead.

“Once more in Glory’s van with me!”
Virginia cried to Tennessee;
   “We two together, come what may,
   Shall stand upon these works to-day!”
(The reddest day in history.)

Brave Tennessee! In reckless way
Virginia heard her comrade say:
   “Close round this rent and riddled rag!”
   What time she set her battle-flag
Amid the guns of Doubleday.

But who shall break the guards that wait
Before the awful face of Fate?
   The tattered standards of the South
   Were shriveled at the cannon’s mouth,
And all her hopes were desolate.

In vain the Tennessean set
His breast against the bayonet;
   In vain Virginia charged and raged,
   A tigress in her wrath uncaged,
Till all the hill was red and wet!

Above the bayonets, mixed and crossed,
Men saw a gray, gigantic ghost
   Receding through the battle-cloud,
   And heard across the tempset loud
The death-cry of a nation lost!

The brave went down! Without disgrace
They leaped to Ruin’s red embrace;
   They heard Fame’s thunders wake,
   And saw the dazzling sun-burst break
In smiles on Glory’s bloody face!

They fell, who lifted up a hand
And bade the sun in heaven to stand;
   They smote and fell, who set the bars
   Against the progress of the stars,
And stayed the march of Motherland!

They stood, who saw the future come
On through the fight’s delirium;
   They smote and stood, who held the hope
   Of nations on that slippery slope
Amid the cheers of Christendom.

God lives! He forged the iron will
That clutched and held that trembling hill!
   God lives and reigns! He built and lent
   The heights for freedom’s battlement
Where floats her flag in triumph still!

Fold up the banners! Smelt the guns!
Love rules. Her gentler purpose runs.
   A mighty mother turns in tears
   The pages of her battle years,
Lamenting all her fallen sons!

Will Henry Thompson

Will H ThompsonPainting by Don Troiani

TroianiTheHighWaterMark

The Ballad of Chickamauga

August 25, 2009

maurice thompsonThe Ballad of Chickamauga

Maurice Thompson, Scout 63rd GA Inf.

By Chickamauga’s crooked stream, the martial trumpets blew.   The North and South stood face to face, with War’s dread work to do.  O Lion-strong, unselfish, brave, twin athletes battle-wise, Brothers yet enemies, the fire of conflict in their eyes,

All banner-led and bugle-stirred, the set them to the fight, Hearing the god of slaughter laugh from mountain height to height.  The ruddy, fair-haired, giant North breathed loud and strove amain;The swarthy shoulders of the South did heave them to the strain;

An earthquake shuddered under foot, a cloud rolled overhead,  And serpent-tongued of flame cut through and lapped and twinkled red, Where back and forth a bullet-stream went singing like a breeze,What time the snarling cannon-balls to splinters tore the trees.

 “Make way, make way!” a voice boomed out, “I’m marching to the sea!” The answer was a rebel yell and Bragg’s artillery.  Where Negley struck, the cohorts gray like storm-tossed clouds were rent;  Where Buckner charged, a cyclone fell, the blue to tatters went;

The noble Brannan cheered his men, Pat Cleburne answered back, And Lytle stormed, and life was naught in Walthall’s bloody track.  Old Taylor’s Ridge rocked to its base, and Pigeon Mountain shook;  And Helm went down, and Lytle died, and broken was McCook.  Van Cleve moved like a hurricane, a tempest blew with Hood,

Awful the sweep of Breckinridge across the flaming wood.  Never before did battle-roar such chords of thunder make,  Never again shall tides of men over such barriers break.

 “Stand fast, stand fast!” cried Rosencrans; and Thomas said, “I will!” And crash on crash, his batteries dashed their broadsides down the hill.  Brave Longstreet’s splendid rush tore through whatever barred his track,  Till the Rock of Chickamauga hurled the roaring columns back,  And gave the tide of victory a red tinge of defeat,  Adding a noble dignity to that hard word, retreat.

 Two days they fought, and evermore those days shall stand apart, Key-notes of epic chivalry with the nation’s heart. 

Come, come, and set the carven rocks to mark the glorious spot;  Here let the deeds of heroes live, their hatreds be forgot.

 Build, build, but never monument shall last as long  As one old soldier’s ballad borne on breath of battle-song.

Maurice Thompson

August 21, 2009

Maurice Thompson 3Maurice ThompsonAN ADDRESS BY AN EX-CONFEDERATE SOLDIER TO THE GRAND
ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC
by Maurice Thompson
(1844-1901)
I was a rebel, if you please,
  a reckless fighter to the last,
Nor do I fall upon my knees
  and ask forgiveness for the past.

A traitor? I a traitor? No!
  I was a patriot to the core;
The South was mine, I loved her so,
  I gave her all,–I could no more.

You scowl at me. And was it wrong
  To wear the gray my father wore?
Could I slink back, though young and strong,
  From foes before my mother’s door?

My mother’s kiss was hot with fight,
  My father’s frenzy filled his son,
Through reeking day and sodden night
  My sister’s courage urged me on.

And I, a missile steeped in hate,
  Hurled forward like a cannonball
By the resistless hand of fate,
  Rushed wildly, madly through it all.

I stemmed the level flames of hell,
  O’er bayonet bars of death I broke,
I was so near when Cleburne fell,
  I heard the muffled bullet stroke!

But all in vain. In dull despair
  I saw the storm of conflict die;
Low lay the Southern banner fair
  And yonder flag was waving high.

God, what a triumph had the foe!
  Laurels, arches, trumpet-blare;
All around the earth their songs did go,
  Thundering through heaven their shouts did tear.

My mother, gray and bent with years,
  Hoarding love’s withered aftermath,
Her sweet eyes burnt too dry for tears,
  Sat in the dust of Sherman’s path.

My father, broken, helpless, poor,
  A gloomy, nerveless giant stood,
Too strong to cower and endure,
  Too weak to fight for masterhood.

My boyhood home, a blackened heap
  Where lizards crawled and briers grew,
Had felt the fire of vengeance creep,
  The crashing round-shot hurtle through.

I had no country, all was lost,
  I closed my eyes and longed to die,
While past me stalked the awful ghost
  Of mangled, murdered Liberty.

The scars upon my body burned,
  I felt a heel upon my throat,
A heel that ground and grinding turned
  With each triumphal trumpet note.

“Grind on!” I cried “nor doubt that I,
  (If all your necks were one and low
As mine is now) delightedly
  Would cut it by a single blow!”

II
That was dark night; but day is here,
  The crowning victory is won;
Hark, how the sixty millions cheer,
  With Freedom’s flag across the sun!

I a traitor! Who are you
  That dare to breathe that word to me?
You never wore the Union blue,
  No wounds attest your loyalty!  

I do detest the sutler’s clerk,
  Who dodged and skulked till peace had come.
Then found it most congenial work
  To beat the politician’s drum.

I clasp the hand that made my scars,
  I cheer the flag my foemen bore,
I shout for joy to see the stars
  All on our common shield once more.

I do not cringe before you now,
  Or lay my face upon the ground;
I am a man, of men a peer,
  And not a cowering, cudgeled hound!

I stand and say that you were right,
  I greet you with uncovered head,
Remembering many a thundering fight
  While whistling death between us sped.

Remembering the boys in gray,
  With thoughts too deep and fine for words,
I lift this cup of love to-day
  To drink what only love affords.

Soldier in blue, a health to you!
  Long life and vigor oft renewed,
While on your hearts, like honey-dew,
  Falls our great country’s gratitude.

 


 

Sam Davis

August 18, 2009

sam davis

A Tribute to Sam Davis

August 18, 2009

A Tribute to Sam Davis

by John Trotwood Moore

 

“Tell me his name and you are free,”  The general said, while from the tree The grim rope dangled threat’ningly

The birds ceased singing—happy birds. That sang of home and mother-words.

The sunshine kissed his cheek—dear sun, It loves a life that’s just begun.

The very breezes held their breath To watch the fight ‘twixt life and death.

And O, how calm and sweet and free  Smiled back the hills of Tennessee!

Smiled back the hills as if to say: “O save your life for us to-day!”

 “Tell me his name and you are free,” The General said, “and I shall see You safe within the Rebel line—

I’d love to save such life as thine.”  A tear gleamed down the ranks of blue.

(The bayonets were tipped with dew); Across the rugged cheek of war  God’s angels rolled a teary star.

The boy looked up, and this they heard:  “And would you have me break my word?”

 A tear stood in the General’s eye: “My boy, I hate to see thee die;

Give me the traitor’s name and fly!” Young Davis smiled, as calm and free As He who walked on Galilee:

“Had I a thousand lives to live, Had I a thousand lives to give,  I’d lose them—nay, I’d gladly die  Before I’d live one life a lie!”

He turned, for not a soldier stirred.  “Your duty, men; I gave my word.”

The hills smiled back a farewell smile, The breeze sobbed o’er his bier awhile,

The birds broke out in glad refrain,  The sunbeams kissed his cheek again,

Then gathering up their blazing bars, They shook his name among the stars.

 O stars, that now his brothers are, O sun, his sire in truth and light, Go tell the listening worlds afar

Of him who died for truth and right. For martyr of all martyrs he

Who died to save an enemy!

The Solitary Stone

August 16, 2009

THE SOLITARY STONE

James Butcher

THE SOLITARY STONE

By Ralph West Mills, a member of the 27th Georgia Regiment Camp 1404, Gainesville, GA

 

Dedicated to those veterans who await the Resurrection in long forgotten plots scattered throughout our Southland.  These countless heroes of old, lay forgotten in some little grave plot above terraced woodland and river bottoms that once were plowed and tended by them.  The forgotten men of the land offer each of us descendants a heritage that should be held dear.

 

Traversing through forgotten wood, I chanced upon a site long since removed from human view, yet beaconing to a light.

 The low rock wall breached here and there by massive forest timber held within its moss-draped stone an epic to remember

 No history would recount the lore now cradled neath the stone; No tower standing sentinel to this sacred spot alone.

 For within the confines of the wall a story nonetheless lay beneath the leaf-strewn sod of a hero’s great duress

 Among the field stones still in place near the corner of the lot stood the only granite marker, above the resting spot.

 The pointed tip with words below revealed no revered name, but state and regimental mark spoke volumes all the same.

 His mortal members long since changed into this hallowed soil gave up no secrets from the grave of blood and sweat and toil.

 The dates upon this weathered stone told how his youth was spent.

He marched with heroes of the South, his very soul he lent.

 Five hundred miles from hearth and home he sacrificed his will—upon the fields of battle, ground in death’s horror mill.

 He knew his neighbor’s splattered blood upon his sunburned cheek—the agony of fighting on with rations oh so meek .

 He knew he had to leave behind his childhood friend in need, ‘neath the rock-strewn Round Top Hill, left only for to bleed

 He knew the heartbreak he had felt when stacking arms that day, when all was lost and his just cause seemed  fast to fade away.

 Returning home to conquered land beneath this wooded slope, he farmed the bottoms and red clay hills for no reward save hope.

 Beside him, faded name scratched in, lay his beloved wife and about him graves of his offspring, testimony to his life.

 For me, among these lonely stones, his story does unfold, a common man who farmed this land as the generation rolled.

He was one of many, but the only one placed here who spilt his youth in four long years in defense of what was dear.

 His name lives not in historical account save on some archival roster—School children will not sit spellbound or greatness none will foster.

 But beneath this sod lies hero great in hallowed ground to molder, facing east awaiting the trumpet’s call lies and enlisted Confederate soldier.