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From old fields : poems of the Civil War / by Nathaniel Southgate Shaler. Shaler, Nathaniel Southgate, 1841-1906. 400dpi TIFF G4 page images University of Kentucky, Electronic Information Access & Management Center Lexington, Kentucky 2002 b92-258-31813954 Electronic reproduction. 2002. (Beyond the shelf, serving historic Kentuckiana through virtual access (IMLS LG-03-02-0012-02) ; These pages may be freely searched and displayed. Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically. From old fields : poems of the Civil War / by Nathaniel Southgate Shaler. Shaler, Nathaniel Southgate, 1841-1906. Houghton Mifflin ; Riverside Press, Boston ; New York : Cambridge : 1906. x, 308 p. ; 24 cm. Coleman Microfilm. Atlanta, Ga. : SOLINET, 1995. 1 microfilm reel ; 35 mm. (SOLINET/ASERL Cooperative Microfilming Project (NEH PS-20317) ; SOL MN05061.08 KUK) Printing Master B92-258. IMLS This electronic text file was created by Optical Character Recognition (OCR). No corrections have been made to the OCR-ed text and no editing has been done to the content of the original document. Encoding has been done through an automated process using the recommendations for Level 1 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines. Digital page images are linked to the text file. imp Di-atbantcl FP. tbaler FROM OLD FIELDS. Poems. 8vo, 3.00, met. Postage extra. THE NEIGHBOR. 2mo,,z.4o,net. Postage -o Cents. ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND. A Dramatic Romance. In five volunes I. The Coro.:a- tion. II. The Rival Queens. II. Armada Days. IV. Essex. V. The Passing of the Queen. 8vo, the set, fio.oo, net. Postage extra. THE INTERPRETATION OF NATURE. 6mo, t.25 KENTUCKY. In he American Common- wee/ths .Series. With Map. i6mo, F..25. ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE EARTH'S SUR- FACE. Part I. Glaciers. By N. S. Shaler and Wm. Morris Davis. Splendidly illus- trated. Folio, So.oo. HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & COMPANY, Bos'roN AND NEw YORK. FROM OLD FIELDS This page in the original text is blank. FROM OLD FIELDS P1oem0 of tMe Otbil War BY NATHANIEL SOUTHGATE SHALER LATE PROFESSOR OF GEOLOGY IN HARVARD L'N1VERSITY AND DEAN OF LAWRENCE SCIENTIFIC SCHOOL I For out of olde feldes, as men scith, Cometh al this newe corn fro yeer to yere " CHAUCER BOSTON AND NEW YORK HOUGHTON MIFFLIN & COMPANY Ebe 0ibersibe pre0, Cambribe 1 906 COPYRIGHT I906 BY SOPHIA P. SHALER ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Published November 1906 TO THE PEOPLE OF KENTUCKY THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED Viii PREFACE He ascribed to Kentuckians a certain fine negligence and prodigality of nature common to large-hearted men who have faith in themselves and in the inexhaustible riches of the world. He especially approved the state of mind which made solicitude and excessive prudence the accessories and not the mainsprings of life. Above all, he valued in them the courage to be themselves, untrammeled by conventions or by undue concern for personal interests. It was these qualities which endeared his people to him. A few evenings before sending to press the poems con- tained in this volume, my husband brought them to me to read once more. When I had finished, struck with the fact that some of his heroes were Confederates, I ex- claimed: " What does this mean -and you an old Fed- eral officer!" Laying down his long-stemmed pipe, for a moment he silently gazed into the fire. Then lifting his head, his usual alert glance dimmed with emotion, "Well," he said, "those brave lads were my companions in youth, and that's why, I suppose, they 've claimed the right to be where I 've put them-among my chosen men. The end came before Mr. Shaler was able to correct or revise the proof of these poems; for this service I am greatly indebted to his old friend and well-loved pupil, Mr. William R. Thayer. SOPHIA P. SHALER. August 205 1906. CONTENTS PROLOGUE NEAR THE FRONT THE MARKSMAN'S WORK THE HALTED BATTLE THE MASTER'S RAGE THE BAD SAMARITAN THE WAY WITH MUTINEERS THE MERRY TRUCE THOSE MULES . A MIDNIGHT VENTURE EAST TENNESSEEANS THE GEORGIANS THE BATTERY THE EAGER MUSTER THE OBSERVANT MAN MADAME B.'s REVIEW THE GENERAL'S YARN FHE ORDER THE NEW YEAR'S TOAST THE SMUGGLERS JIM'S PARDNER'S TALES THE FORGOTTEN OUTPOST . . I 3 5 9 , I2 15 . . 20 . 27 . . 29 39 . 48 . 52 . . 58 . 64 . . 72 74 79 82 84 86 . . 90 . 103 x CONTENTS THE GREAT RAID . . . 112 AUGUSTA . . . . . . . I36 THE STORY . . 1.46 CUMBERLAND GAP . . 173 THE RESCUE MARCH . . . 200 UNDER THE BANNER . . . 220 TOLD IN THE DARK . . 286 THE CHANGE OF FRONT . . . 289 THE LEADER'S PRAYER . . 291 THE ARTILLERY CHIEF . . . 292 APPOMATTOX: THE CONFEDERATE'S STORY . . . 294 THE SOLDIER'S WAY . 297 THE HAPPY RELEASE. . . 300 THE BURIAL PLACE . . . . . 304 THE ORPHAN BRIGADE . . . . 307 FROM OLD FIELDS This page in the original text is blank. PROLOGUE WHAT should we do with ancient deeds and days That in the ancient way go to the deep Straight as a plummet till they find their place In its enduring silence Leave them slip From light to dark, and watch the tiny whirl Upon the swift glassed ocean till there comes Another whirling, token of where sinks Again brave man or deed Nay, so the brutes In the brute time, atom and molecule Planets and suns trooped from the dark to dark; So too their children in the beasts and birds Went unremembered out of light and life Leaving of chaunting soul and lion's heart Naught but their progeny to brave and sing Their little while in air and be forgot. It is the part of man to treasure men And set their splendours in the heaven's vault, Until those stars shall make us endless day To banish villain night. 'T is his to help The Architect in shaping out of dust His temple that uplifts within the void To be the habitation of the all That wins His splendour; till there be no more Of death that knows but dust. So let us on 2 PROLOGUE Upon this goodly work, - shape as we may Its deep foundations from our brother's deeds Built to uphold His fane, -set in its walls Imperishable gems they wrought from dust, And grace it with all grace of memory,- Turn every stone they wrought and seek the face That shines the fairest in the glint of sun,- Care even for the shards they cast away So that they bear the touch of their dear hands,- Let to the plummet's deep alone the shames, Those ugly prints on earth trod by the feet That strove unknowing upward. Thus we may Be helpers of the Master. NEAR THE FRONT A STREET in country town at midnight time: Above, the harvest moon; below, the earth War-stricken, desolate. On either side Is utter ruin; here, by flame that left But whitened remnants, -there, yet sorrier In shops and dwellings where the doors stand wide And trampled goods tell plain that plunderers Have ravaged where men stored. Along this street Is laid a hard-marched column by its arms: Close-packed upon the sidewalks, with the feet In dusty gutters and each side the way Crammed close as herring in a box; they sleep With breasts to sky or earth: shaped as they '11 lie Within the trenches ere the shovelers Have done their part. Upon the unblocked road, Six paces wide, pass on the endless trains Of laden wagons, guns, and cavalry To hard-pressed front: and a like ceaseless line Of ambulances bearing to the rear Their loads of misery. The creaking wheels Crunch on the loosened stones two feet away From outer lines of heads, and send the dust Upon their senseless eyes. The riders sway Nigh out their saddles and the horses lean One 'gainst the other as they stumble on, 4 NEAR THE FRONT For they, too, slumber -yea, this world 's asleep, Save from each ambulance the wounded tell They know their torment. There one pleads for drink Poor chap, his bandage 's loosened and he thirsts Because his life flows out. He '11 soon be still: His cry is but a quaver; he '1 soon slake Thirst at the eternal spring. See, there goes A woman treading softly through the host, Scanning the faces upturned to the sky With eager stealth. Swift glance and then swift on Until she's out of sight. THE MARKSMAN'S WORK THE silent lines Are set against each other in the pause That comes before the battle; watching near The chance of stroke and parry. Waiting still For some last vantage of new men, or guns, Or for belated scouts who search the point Where well-aimed blow may tell. It is a time When soul is tense as bowstring with its shaft Down to the head: when all the leaders watch As cats before the pounce. In front of us Are fields whereon for half a mile there is No note of what's to come. The sheep feed there, As by the shambles they are wont to crop What good earth sends of nurture. But away Nigh thousand yards beyond our outer force, Are foemen's pickets: on their line a house, The homestead of these fields, and by its side, Beneath an orchard's shade, a battery Where men lie by their guns, while right and left Stretches the dun line of their waiting host. Upon the housetop, seated on the crest, There sits a soldier, bending o'er a board, 6 THE MARKSMAN'S WORK Making a sketch-map of our front. We see With the unaided eye no more than this, For in that distance man is but a mite Mere fleck 'gainst earth or sky. Yet with the glass We change him to near neighbour. So we find He is an officer, fair-shaped and young, Who's deftly at his task. Now he looks up, And with hand-shaded eyes he scans our front: Then with his pencil turns them to his sketch. It is a pretty sight, as innocent As the sheep cropping in the quiet field, And vet he knows 't is venture, hardiest A man may make in war, and we know well He is a brave man whom we needs must slay So swift we can. Quick the commander calls- "Here, Captain, have a gun with your best squad And knock that fellow off." " It shall be done. But you should see that close beside that house They have a battery, and to my gun They 're sure to send an answer from their own; And then the dance begins." " We don't want that, Yet we must stop that rascal." " Let me call A fellow from the regiment that serves As my support. He is the crackest shot THE MARKSMAN'S WORK From Minnesota: used to just such work In potting redskins." " Have him for a try Nine hundred yards - I '11 bet a hat he 'l miss, Yet it is worth the trying, for the ball May scare the villain off." Up comes the man, A lank and grizzled fellow, with the eye, Blue-grey and strangely steadfast, of the sort Who have the slaying habit. " Can you hit That chap upon the housetop" " Guess I can, It is a long shot, but there ain't no wind." Slowly he loads his rifle; then he goes Down to a fence; looks long and silently As if he paced the distance in his mind: Now lies upon his belly; finds a rest To hold his piece that suits him, by a post. We see him ready, and with glass to eves A score watch for the end. There sits the youth, The picture of an artist at his task, Outgoing to the world and bringing back Share of its wealth. How happy he seems there In the new morning! Crack! the rifle rings: We hold breath for an instant. There he goes Backward behind the ridgepole, while his sketch Flits down the roof towards us. As the face Slips out of sight, we see the startled look 7 8 THE MARKSMAN'S WORK That comes upon it when the man knows death. We close our glasses; not a word is said; The marksman stalks away; he does not look Into our eyes, but straightway on: and we Keep eyes from others' faces and seek out Some trifling thing to do. THE HALTED BATTLE THEY are hard at it; veteran brigades Who 've chased each other up and down the land Till one has turned at bay. Near-by are groups Of men who hold the horses nose to nose, A dozen in a bunch, where they find place To 'scape the scorching fire; and there the lines: Not as you see them pictured in fair rows Like garden plants, but scattered creeping men By ones and twos and threes that slip right on, Kneeling to shoot, running to win their way, And sometimes toppling when the way is lost For this world's faring. There upon the hills Are set the batteries, they too most unlike The artist's business -each with six great guns, As neatly lined as books upon a shelf, With dancing dolls about them. They 're well hid, You never see a muzzle or a man, But know them by their shout, the puffs of smoke, The screech of shrapnel and the cloud in air That sends its leaden hail. Ay, here is war, With its infernal splendour naught can quell Until the fire 's flamed out. All earth's priests With book and candle could not exorcise That demon from this field. But now there comes THE HALTED BATTLE The mightier, a maid upon a horse. A whiff of wind and there she is amidst The plump of shot and shell. She goes straight on, As if 't was custom with her thus to ride Into the gates of Hell. With a " Good Lord!" And else of expletive, the leader calls The bugler to sound truce, lifts the white flag So that his brethren other side of field In wonder halt their fire. Sends forth an aid With handkerchief on sabre to explain A woman owns the field, that till she 's off, The battle needs be. Then he seeks the lass: The damsel undisturbed is chatting on With those beside her, very much at ease, As if this old world were so very good That Satan could not mar it. Now he says, Well, little woman, what has brought you here This is no place for you." " I 'm going to my ma's; I 've been a-visiting, 't is my way home." Yes, yes, but don't you see we 've business With other fellows, and you will get hurt; So go back to your friends and stay with them Until we 've done our job." " I told you, sir, I 'm going to my ma's. What I 've to do Is most important, so you '11 have to wait Till I get by." The general mops his face, Sputters a bit in undertones, then laughs, I O THE HALTED BATTLE I I Rocking to saddlebow. Now he rides on, The damsel by his side, upon the way. First through his own troops, who rise up and cheer, A shout with sorrow in it, for the lass Brings back the memory of far-off homes, Of sisters and of sweethearts; now 'cross fields That were debated, to the foeman's lines For a like greeting. Most courteously He hands her to his foeman. "This dear girl Is for her ma's; 't will need full half an hour Before she 's out of range; let our flag stay Until that time is up." The other says: "Would it could stay for good: it will be hard To go straight back to Hell in half an hour." THE MASTER'S RAGE A SOLDIER'S STORY PAP THOMAS did n't talk much with his tongue, But when it came to doing, then oh, my! He was an orator to lift your hair. He and their Stonewall Jackson had the trick Of saying nothing till their job was done, And nothing afterwards. Virginians Are mighty queer. The half of them all gab, The other half whack hard and march right on To find the next chance. So it was with Pap. At first we thought him dumb, but we soon learned The way he talked. You must remember how He whooped old Hood right off of Nashville field So fast and far, that Old Nick never found Where his headquarters were. He did that job In Quaker-meeting way: kept mighty still Until the Lord was ready: then went on As if he owned the sky. I '11 tell you now A story that ain't printed, but it shows The way he preached. We were a scurvy lot Of raw recruits; both men and officers Were mostly in for Hell. The decent chaps Were scared of those who warn't. Then came old Pap. THE MASTER'S RAGE At first we grinned and wondered what he'd do, And planned our darndest just to find it out. We found it pretty quick. He did n't stop For grand review, as all the others did When they came for a try. He rode straight down The halted column: so we could n't work The rackets we had rigged, and when we tried To get up something as he passed, his eyes Went right straight through us and we felt ashamed, And mad because we did. Now when he came To where our company stood, we'd scattered out To raid a little farm. Our captain first He was a cuss. He led us in such games, But when we'd business he'd the belly-ache. He'd set the house afire, and now came out With both arms full of plunder, -women's clothes, A mantel-clock, et cet'ra, -looking round To find the stolen wagon where he kept The things he ragged for shipment. Then Pap comes With all his staff; reined up and took it in,- The burning house, the looting, and our Cap With his mule-load of stealings. With a jump He 's off his horse and square before the cuss, Whose shoes seemed stuck to ground. Then slowly Pap relieved him of his load, Set down the clock and laid the women's clothes Right careful on the grass. We fellows thought Now we'd the chance to play at horse with him, So we began to holler: then stopped off I 3 THE MASTER'S RAGE At what was doing. Silent still, old Pap Took out the cuss's sword, and with a whack Upon the door-stone made it smithereens; Pulled off his uniform and left him there Stark naked in the cold. When P'ap was done, Without a word he climbed back on his horse And rode on down the line. My, we were still 'Who saw it all, and those who did n't knew Somehow or other of it - knew with us That we had come bang up against the Lord And must behave as men. As for the Capy- We emptied out his wagon for the folks Who owned the farm and chucked him naked in. He squealed Pap had no right to strip him bare. I reckon that is so. Reg'lations say Nothing about it: Uncle Moses, too, Don't take it up. But when you find Old Nick Inside a chap, I reckon that you have A right to whale him out, and need n't be Too durned particular not to spoil the hide When he has been let in. You bet there were A lot of welts on Jew backs when He 'd done With cleaning out the temple. 14 THE BAD SAMARITAN AFTER the reapers, enter in the folk Who glean from stubble what they may of corn, The bowed, the children, cripples of the fight They 've waged with earth, and those who watch for morn When they may find their battle. They are done,- For two-score years, the days when o'er our fields Death led his train of sturdy harvesters, Whose sickles swept them bare: but to our day IThe gleaners heap their sheaves of noble deeds The histories know not; deeds that shine as stars On swift way to the dark -told once and then Unto forgetfulness. One of these tales May be as sample, showing how there lies Wealth in the nooks and crannies of this land; Vast store of valour, faith of man to man; Trust in the living God. In Washington, I came upon a friend, a congressman, Sometime a Rebel: ever faithful man To what he saw of duty. In his youth He was a shapely giant, but was shorn Of right leg at the hip and left to fight Life's battle with his crutches. When I came Into his room 'twas dark. To welcome me He sought to light the gas in chandelier. I 6 THE BAD SAMARITAN It was high placed, so that he needed stretch His six foot six on tiptoe. Twice he fell Before the task was done. I gave no help, For -well I knew he'd smite me with his crutch Before he'd have it. When my Hercules Had done the job, he turned to me and said, "I 've found the man who saved me." He was full Of the brave story I had often tried To have him tell, and now he told it thus: "I was with Morgan in the second fight We had at Cynthiana: we'd been driven For two days' hard march; at the ford we turned To be well beaten, hustled off the field: In the last charge, I was hard hit and fell. I knew I 'd slipped from saddle; nothing more Until I waked to find Samaritan, A Federal soldier, caring for my wound. He put a bandage and a twister on As if he knew the trade. He gave me drink From his canteen until I emptied it, Then filled his own and mine and laid them down Where I could reach them. While he cared for me As though he were my brother, - so he was Unto the Christ and me, there came a wolf On two legs with a gun across the field: 'Stand off,' he cried, 'and I will finish him.' You know the brute, he's seldom seen, and goes Hotly upon the trail." "I know the kind. THE BAD SAMARITAN He's not for the despatches, nor for long When true men are about." " True man was there And did it neatly. Then he stooped and asked My name and number; wrote them on a slip And pinned it to my breast. I knew well, Though far and faintly, what that meant, and vet 'T was good to have it done, - so gently done - Then came the assembly: calling for pursuit Of what was left of my side. So he turned To heed the call. Then back to me once more, Stripped off his overcoat and wrapped me close. I well remember that, and then no more Until weeks after in the hospital. The war was ended, and I was the last Of all the lot. I had full time to think Of what to do. There lay I like a hulk, As helpless as when born; and there away Far in the west, there were a wife and child Waiting for me to help them in sore need. We were as poor as churchmice. It looked bad, And yet the memory of that dear chap Who saved me on that field helped mightily, For in a world where foe could be so true There was sure chance of friends. They packed me off As soon as it was safe, and shut the door Of the last hospital. I 'd transportation home, And there good welcome to grim poverty From neighbors all dead poor. Their store was gone, I 7 THE BAD SAMARITAN Save what they held in heart. I could not eat Share of their scanty food - must work: but how I had four fifths of me, the other fifth Was in the grave, and it takes all a man To win him out of ruin. You can't guess How I began! You've seen sulky ploughs, Those Yankee tricks with two wheels and two shares, Shaped so you sit and drive and do the work Of two old-fashioned rigs. There was my chance. A man who'd known my father helped me buy The plough and horses. I was once more man Facing the world. I broke tobacco fields, - You know our staple, -ploughed the growing crops For wage that seemed a fortune. In a year I bought a farm, and within five was rich For a one-legged ploughboy. I read law, Slipped into politics, but kept my hold Upon the land, and soon had wealth enough For two stout legs to carry. All the while, For twenty years, my mind ran on that man, That enemy who'd been my friend in need God's mercy when I lay beside my grave. I never knew a day of happiness Mine have been mighty happy -but I thought If he had passed me by 't would not have been. I tried to find the fellow; got the rolls Of the commands that were upon that field And searched in vain to guess him. Sought the men With whom he'd served: but I had lost his shape - THE BAD SAMARITAN When you've been smote, you do not heed such things, You only know the help. Offered reward- To have a score of scoundrels at my heels- He must be dead; so I would never know His name or grave. And now at last he's found. Can you believe it There in my own town. A weary chap who'd lost in life's hard fight Seedy and old. Full fifty times he'd heard The story from me: for 't was often told In hope 't would bring the clue. He knew right well That I would share with him what he had given Upon that field, and yet the chap held still: Grinned at the tale, and made as if he thought It was a yarn such as a fellow spins When crazy from a wound as I had been. I 've had it out with him: he was right mad That I had spotted him before he died, For then he would n't mind." I 9 THE WAY WITH MUTINEERS IF you need exploration of your soul, Get a command of raw men - reprobates From minstrel shows and jails. Tumble them in Red-hot campaign to shape them on the march And in the fight for service. You'll soon find Their stuff and yours: a month of it will send The plummet deeper than three-score and ten Of ordered years where all earth's pleasant ways Are trodden clear by custom, fenced by law From the great wilderness. This story tells T he way of life you '11 tread when your sore feet Must stumble through such wild. 'T is just a week Since, men and guns assembled, he, the vouth Who's dubbed their captain, set about his task Of breaking them to harness. Yea, they chafe, Those hard drawn thongs: it takes a bit of time Before men's hides are calloused and their souls Bend to the mastering. This is a day WVhen griefs have come to head, and half the force Are ripe for mutiny. Thev need but rum, A little touch of it, and thev '11 lash out. They get it - Lord knows where - it seems to leak Through sentries as through sieves, or it slips down As manna from the skv. First comes a rush THE WAY WITH MUTINEERS Of half a score, the leaders, for his tent. He meets them 'fore it, and with three steps back And well-timed stroke of sword, sent flat on ears, He fells the foremost three. The others hear The swish and spank and see their comrades fall To right and left and lie as though they're dead: That cools their rum. He calls the trusty guard- The saving remnant -- tithe of that sad lot; The seeming dead are forth to calaboose: They'll come round in an hour, with nothing worse Than two days' singing in their informed ears. 'Tis but a trifle, told because it tells As ever does the sword when it is swung By well-trained arm and wits that know its end's To have the fellow down, and not to slay In novice fashion. Here it further served, For in his force there was a lieutenant Of twice his years, old soldier from o'er sea In search of fortune. Until now he 'd been Mutinous himself in soul, to have a lad New to the touch of arms set o'er his head. When they came howling on he drew his sword Ready to help, but waiting for command: But in his eves a look that told his chief What hid behind it of expectancy. In such swift times you see much - if at all; The captain saw, and knew the fellow longed To have it turn to profit, and it nerved Soul for the strokes he sent. The man was true, 2 I 22 THE WAY WITH MUTINEERS For all promotion's dear. That business done, He gave salute with sword and generously, In way that told his nurture, said to him: I make my compliment, it was well done; My Captain knows dot trick! " and they were friends At touch of common trade. The youth had learned Dot trick" when but a stripling, at the hands Of a great master, who taught him the sword. Such things to be had surely need to grow Into the waxing lad in his first teens, So that the muscles do it in the need Just as they serve the tiger's in his spring Mere wits would boggle it. It's now the time For evening drill with guns. The men need have Yet further lesson that their captain 's fit To hold them to their work. He has just learned From his first sergeant that he is contemned By all the men because he cannot swear Their test of manly virtue. He loathes that- But as it's needful, he now harks him back To certain memories of Skipper Small, With whom he 'd sailed a short twelvemonth before - Misnamed, for he was mighty in most things That make a man, and wondrous in the way In which he hurled profanity to sky: No cheap and vulgar snarling, as you hear From the land-lubber, but the roar of sea, Of battling ships and storms. Those Spanish things THE WAY WITH MUTINEERS That cut your soul like knives; Italian To scorch your kindred, mixed up with those psalms, Imprecatories, with Semitic art to damn For this world and the next, went in to make What English lacked of Satan's litany. It was a thing famed to the furthest seas, And fitly, for in it you heard a soul Contending with the deeps. It's well to say That Small, ashore, was deacon; there his speech Was very gentle, almost ladylike. He roared but seldom, even on the seas; But gods and men attended when he did. A little conning, and that litany Is ready for the service. All an hour Those chaps in calaboose are in their minds: Then once again the horse play and foul chaff. He's waited for the moment; then lets forth That sulphurous inundation. First they stare, Then pale and gasp. Poor things, they'd dreamed they swore! Ten minutes of the blast and they are tamed. He never swore again -there was no need, For now they're sure that though he is a boy, That boy's been deep in Hell. So he has right To be their over-lord. Yet one more scene, The worst in all these acts, and it is done, This task of breaking in. The captain finds Near by his camp, at dusk, one of his men, 23 THE WAY WITH MUTINEERS Macdonald by his name, with shape that fits The Scotch Hibernian at his very best, Frightening a decent woman, touch of rum And fulness of the Devil in his hide. He's quickly tethered, but he raves right on In the rough Irish way, smites lustily, And hurls death warrants at his captain's head. He's bucked and gagged, a horse-bit in his mouth Well strapped behind his ears, and so he's laid To ruminate till morning in the pen. At break of day, he's loosened: with the leap Of tiger cat he is straight at the throat Of man who helps him. Something must be done, Else what's been done is lost. A mutineer Who keeps it up as this, infects a camp As does the plague and swifter. Custom bids You send a bullet through his head and cast His carcass in the trench; for in campaign There is no court-martialing for common men When they turn mutineers. Yet 't is a man- Just now the very best of "number ones" With whom he has to deal. They're hard to find - Strong, nimble fellows, who sponge out the gun, Ram home the cartridge - take the blast that comes Born and not made, as poets. Noble chap When parted from his Satan: devil's own, When they, as now, are joined. The captain tries A saving stroke: he has him crucified Upon the spare wheel, such as you have seen 24 THE WAY WITH MUTINEERS Hanging behind the caisson: well strapped down, To hang there till he or his Satan dies, In sight of all the camp. All through the day From hour to hour the captain waits on him To ask if he will soldier. Finds Old Scratch Still has him in his clutch. The end's in sight; The pulses stopped. The surgeon says he'll die Before the sun is down. So now with two To serve as witnesses, the captain goes Once more to him: tells him that death is near, And asks his will with what he has to leave - His little kit: his pay: last word for home. At this, the devil tears out, and the man 's Once more the master : he begins to weep And says he 'll soger. In a trice he 's down: Rubbed, dosed, and cheered with friendliness, until Life surges back -close squeak, and yet he won Out from the shadow gate. That topped the task, For when Macdonald's devil hied him forth, He called his minions from the others' hearts. It is a fearful sight to see a man Hang on the tree as slow life ebbs away - It besomed all their souls. Two years are gone, That captain 's elsewhere, when there comes to him A splendour of man, first sergeant's stripes Upon his uniform. So once again Macdonald stands before him: changed in all Save for his birthright of majestic shape, 25 26 THE WAY WITH MUTINEERS And might to swing it. He has come to thank The Captain for his help in casting out The devil that had ruled him all his days Until he found that cross, and then rent forth And left him free as man. Why drag these tales Out of the dark that cloaks infinity Of just such shames; done in the ancient way In sinning for the Lord. Deeds that wake men For two-score years thereafter wondering What they were when they did them. 'T is for those Who fancy war hosts are celestial, With planetary order swaying them- Who see the well-shaped myriads on parade Swing to the flare of bugle, tap of drum, And think that law is there. 'T is might ye see; Hard, brutal might, that bears the soul right down And welds it to its neighbour with the stroke- Yea, it is order -that of nether Hell. Sherman was right -he knew. So do not bring To me your rage and protest good the way Our comrades use the water cure and else Of shame on Filipinos; just as well Complain that Tophet's hot: that devils do Their damn'dest in its circles. THE MERRY TRUCE OVER against each other lie the lines. It's winter in the South, and that means mud Knee-deep in roads and fields. So now the men Squat round the smudging camp-fires and wait on For the good Lord to send an earth that fits For Satan's work: until the glorious sun Shall shoot the thrill of spring deep in the ground And shape the footing, so that men may tread The ways of war. They while away the days In idle jokes alike on friends and foes. They are right neighbourly: the pickets play Old sledge together; have their swapping trades, And yarns of what they 've done, and what they '11 do When springtime comes again. - And when there comes A flag of truce, 't is a red-letter day For those who bear it forth, while those who stay Can gossip of its purpose for a week. This morning one goes forth. Our general 's heard That his old father 's ill. His enemy, House friend and schoolmate, kinsman of degree, Who leads the Yanks, will have the news from home. So ra-ta-ta of bugles and a pole With rag atop gives right to cross the field Between the outposts to the foeman's lines, And have an hour's chaff. Their general THE MERRY TRUCE Gives kindly welcome, grave, a bit reserved, As fits a flag of truce, and better yet A breakfast to the escort. Rules of war Are set against such grace, for you should keep Your foeman's belly empty for the chance Swifter to smite him down. But those who bear A white flag are good friends while it is up, On mutual business bent, and so they claim The mess right with you. Now comes idle talk Of swapping prisoners, of sundry mules A widow's lost and Federal scouts have found; Then to the pith of it -the old man's health. He is reported better, nigh to well, But sore borne down with sorrow that his son Is a damned Rebel. For yet other news Our host sends with his compliments a jug Unto our leader, knowing it will give Some further consolation to his mate. Back comes the flag again, then, Ra-ta-ta And it is lowered. Foes we are again. The pickets are alert, for well they know That after truce there's apt to be a row. There's nothing but a racket in the tent Of our good leader -on until the morn. Again the flag of truce climbs o'er the field, With his regards and very earnest prayer For further news from Frankfort. 28 THOSE MULES THERE'S much of horses in our songs and hearts We 've shaped and sung them since we have known how For when man's in the saddle he's a king Set over all afoot. But of the mule- That understudy of the noble beast Wcho with the porker rules our modern war- There never lifts a lay. The soldier knows The reason of it. 'T is the mule has wits, While horse has none. The knowing Greeks knew that At least, last half of it - for they well-named The horse as Allogon - the senseless thing; Who owns the master's hand and so is praised: While mule for his stout will is ever damned In this world and the next; so far as words And whacks can do it. - Here 's a tale or two To show what makes the soldier hate a mule And something of their ways. An afternoon In August; with but a hundred yards between Our line and Johnny's. Air is hot and still And mostly made of horseflies. The captain seeks A moment's sleep. Last night Rebs had him up From two o'clock 'till daybreak-just for fun, Also to wear him out -the way of war - Civil or other. Now the captain dreams THOSE MULES Of a fair nook beside the soothing sea, When all at once the picket where the mules Are anchored is in uproar: five of them With that stout set back full they do so well Have parted cables, bray their triumph forth, And set their noses south. The captain jumps For saddle-horse, rides hard to turn them back: Heads two and shoots them: shouts to sentinels And outposts for like help, but they aim wild. They're good at hitting widows' cows at night, But mighty poor at mules. So on they go, Leaping like antelopes, until they come Right in the Johnnies' lines. They 're welcome there, Roared by ten thousand, and are marched away On brave parade, with merry trumpeters, In sight of all our camp. - The captain goes Back to his tent to see what he 's to do. The " army bible " shows you how you may "Take up" strayed horses on your next account, But nothing says of mules who have eloped Straight to the enemy. So now he's forth For veteran advice. The West Point chap Knows well his trade: haply there's one nearby With ready counsel. "You are in a fix; Three hundred dollars out; that's two months' pay," Is the brief statement. "What am I to do" "What other fellows do when they lose mules; Contrive it so that when the inspector comes 30 THOSE MULES Your mates to right or left will lend you three, So soon they've done with him. You'll have a chance To fill that hole next time there comes a fight, If Johnny lets us stay." So it is done: Right neighbourly the needed mules come round Before the inspector, to be counted twice. I sometimes thought I saw him grin a bit As if he caught the trick. It is their trade To know a critter they have seen before Within a year or two. But custom 's law, And they are comrades. Soon there came that chance: A shindy harvested three lonesome mules C. S. above the U. S. on their hides. They were the same old mules; they seemed right glad To be where they belonged: to hear their bray Well-answered by their friends. Two lines - the " Yanks " and " Johnnies " in the clutch - Hard day is done, a harder is to come. A hundred yards between them as they lie Upon their arms to sleep. The moon is full, And 'twixt the troops a dozen frisky mules, As is their wont, are braying; like tom-cats Raised to the Nth power. Now a sleepy call "Hello, Yank! " "Hello, Johnny!" " Let's have a truce To shoot those cussed mules so we can sleep, 3 1 THOSE MULES We won't be worth a damn unless we do." It is agreed; a dozen shots: 't is done. So they are fresh at daybreak for their task. Once more of mules and men. The captain 's bid To shape an outfit of a dozen teams Each of six mules. The empty wagons stand Gay as recruits in their new uniforms Twelve prairie schooners with their canvas tents Still innocent of grime. His task it is To horse them with safe mules; to cram them full Of war's hard merchandise of shot arid shell That they may face the racket -deal their store Along the battle line -so empty maws Of guns may have their fill. First he's forth To find a dozen "contrabands " who know By birthright of mule nature: know right well To shape it to the need. It's easy done, For in the black 's the primitive that fits To primitive of mule. White hostler goes Square at the beast in ugly mastering way- Stand over there, you cuss"- slaps currycomb Down on the tender hide. What wonder, then, The ancient instinct, ages bred, springs up And out sends slap of heels. The negro comes Sidling towards the critter, rubs his nose, Palavers to him in that gentle voice Soothing to beasts and men. Slips gently on Until he's master of the willing soul 32 THOSE MULES 3 3 That longs for friendliness from mastering hand As all the herding brutes. Next for the mules The corral has a plenty: fresh from fields Where they were bred in peace until the time When they set forth behind the old white mare, Bell-wether to the flock, who led them on, Unshackled still, unto adventures strange. Of shoe or bridle, whip or spur, they know No more than babes in cradles. They 've not learned To set their heads together in a bunch And catapult with heels 'gainst hungry foe Who sought a breakfast - art their forbears learned At price of life -right useful wickedness Now deep down in the pit, and there 't will stay Unless the devil stirs it. From the lot, Some thousand more or less, the captain picks His six score carefully for teams and spares. In what they have to do there's many a nip Unsparing of their lives. So with each six Go two for swift replacements. Few enough - A day may find the chance. It is a task That calls for wits and faith that beasts are kin, Shaped of the impalpable that makes men's souls With range from saints to sinners, fools to wise, Cowards to heroes, in the uniform of hides That to the unobservant look all like. He's good at it. With Agassiz he learned The master's art of seeing what is hid Behind the commonplace, that blinks the eyes 34 THOSE MULES Of those who see all plain. Besides, by grace of God, He loves all living things. So, one by one, The offerings are studied each apart. Here is the first for judgment. - If your sense Of equine beauty 's fixed to fit the horse,- Not fitly catholic, -he '11 seem to be Huddle of disproportions from his ears To tail and heels. But if you take him thus, You're neither humanist nor naturalist. They both know well that every living kind Hath garment of God's beauty all its own, That needs be looked for largely from within. Let's scan this monster thus: First for the face: It 's very gentle: with those notes that stay Of all the myriad strivings of old times To set a soul in flesh, perhaps the best Till we came near our kind: and anthropoids - Suck-giving mothers -get that yearning look, Foreshadowing the deeps that we have found. There's a strange pathos in a young mule's face, Soon beaten out: it makes you think he knows He is a bastard: placeless in this world, When else of life has strongholds in its kind; Withal a comic look. Fruit-eating bats From Zanzibar have that same comedy Writ on their little faces, as they'd say, This business of living is a joke "- As well it may be. Few beasts find it out, And fewer men. As for those wondrous ears, THOSE MULES 'T is only custom 's 'gainst them. They 're well-shaped As trumpets' mouths. They tell the seeing eye Of age-long hearkening in vanished wilds For tread of vanished hunger. Hap our own Had been the like, but that our ancestors 'Scaped from the battle with their wits, and hung Above the lion's path 'mid sheltering boughs That gave them safety. Else our withered shells Would seem as strange. Go gently to the thing, In blackman's way stroke neck and rub the nose To see his eyes dance and his frame key up As boy at play. Now pass hand o'er his hide, That marvellous encasement of the form Set from all else apart to hold its share Of the great marvel, life. How soft and smooth: Quick to the touch, informing all within Of what 's without. Behold those shapely limbs, Those legs the trimmest instruments you find For dealing with hard earth -good thews of steel Encased in velvet. Athletes' arms are fine, So, too, air-cleaving wings. But here we have The finished work of hap ten million years Done on the vulgar dust. How delicate For all their slaying might! They have come forth From endless essays, each weighed in the scales Where balanced life and death. The failure cast Into the dust-heap: success sent right on To the far goal. Now to the nimble hoofs, 3 5 THOSE MULES Those equine wonders where the fingers five Of far-off ancestors have one by one In trials of the ages slipped away, Until there stays alone this which does all The once divided task. How shapely, strong: Steel hammer for hard strokes. For it has slain In long-forgotten ancestors and wilds The lion in his pounce - or may bear on Four times a man's weight with a tread as soft As maid's upon the grass. So goes the task. This first is judged right fit: the next that comes Is shapelier, but at the touch of hand A wince shows ancient fear has broke to life, And that for war's work's Satan. In a man It may be disciplined, but in a beast The demon stavs. Thus one by one They're searched and chosen, and the tithe are judged Of the elect in body and in soul. Like choice with fellow-men would give you less Than one in ten. And now the work begins. First step: each eight are wonted to the man Who's to be master. Slowly, with bare hand He rubs each down. They love that gentle touch, And cleanliness it brings. Then each is fed From that same hand. A day or two of this, Then comes the harnessing. Slow piece by piece They make acquaintance with the gear, and find It goes with victual and that touch of hand 36 THOSE MULES 37 Telling their lord is near. Then two by two, And next in trains of six, they quickly learn Meaning of gee, haw, woh; that 's swiftly done, For now they are expectant of new tricks And corn that pays them. After that, the bit There is a crisis; all the rest was play, Pleasant and helpful, but that iron thing 'Gainst lips and teeth tells harder yet to come. But this point's won as all else, by degrees. At first a bit of rope and then of wood, Until at end of week the mastering steel Slips into place. All these beginning steps Are done beside the wagons, and where teams Of fellow-mules are dragging on their loads As if they liked it. So there 's nothing strange About the business when they're tackled to An empty wagon in a smooth, hard field; And if it startles, there 's the lord just by, With unchanged voice that telleth all is well. What else hath servant in this wondrous world So full of happenings So it is done: The wont is in their souls -all mastering trust In might of man: he is a stupid black, And yet that marvel, man : set over all- God's vice-gerent: dirty, but the lord- They 'ye not been broken, but made bridle wise- Wise in stout doing unalloyed with fear Of the unknown. Now they are forth to serve In the hard needs of battle, 'mid the roar THosF MULFS Of wrestling hosts. The demon leaps on them In bursting shell, in stricken mate, but here Comes voice of master ruling them to peace, For he 's the master and they are his men, And that 's the end of it. A MIDNIGHT VENTURE IT is an evening when the harvest moon Rides up the eastern sky, to light us on The while we glean their last from noble fields- So would the Master, but his servant - man Hath other use for fields, and here hath set Athwart the ways of peace, 'mid trampled corn, A war line 'gainst the South, waiting the stroke From a great host that swings within the dark Seeking the place to strike: as thunder cloud Explores the spaces ere its lightning smites The chosen mark for ruin. Now the scouts, Hard ridden, bring the word the foe has swayed Off to the east to try our weakest flank. Swift ride the aides, and swift in countermarch Go horse and foot back on the ways that lead To this new peril, till that peopled place Is once more silent as o'er-arching sky; Save for a little group of men and guns, A battery that stood amid the host And with its warding had a castle's might To rule for miles about; by some mischance Of hurried orders left here islanded In the deep sea of night, an easy prey To half a thousand horse sent from the dark Swarming around the cannon: and that deep A MIDNIGHT VENTURE Is lit with praying eyes that seek the way To profitable stroke. Yea, with the foe Are eager troops who know as never men To ride for such a prize. Here is a fix That needs wake soldier's sense in that lank youth Who stands there as the captain. Type of lads In the hard wrestle of the Civil War, Who 'fore their beards were grown and gristle set Were burthened with the cares to weigh down men Who 've grizzled in the trade. What shall he do The way's wide open, and as bugle call Will send his battery upon the run To join their vanished friends, surely the plan Was not to leave him thus helpless, alone, To be down-trodden by a midnight charge. Guns to an army are like crowns to kings, Not to be rendered to the foe for naught, But at hard-haggled price. Nay, but the boy Hath soldier's sense in him that answer makes To this heart's pleading: telling that his part Is to await command, and do his best By what comes 'fore the order. First he sends Swift to his general a plan that shows His place and peril; then, that message sped By trusty courier, he mounts a score Of his best men and sends them two by two To scout the ways up to the foeman's line, And bring swift message of a coming force; One to ride straightway back to tell its start, 40 A MIDNIGHT VENTURE The other wait until he counts the files; Then seek his path across the open fields: Next sets the cannon so they sweep the road That leads straight south, broad, dusty, stone-paved wav That glistens 'neath the moon, mid it two guns, And two to right and left upon each verge, So that the walls may shelter the bare flanks For time 'gainst charge of horse. All is not much, But in this dark these are the things to do, Giving him chance to win on to the day. Now comes the sorest burthen that a wight, With Fate's load on his shoulders, has to bear That patient waiting for what night may send Forth from its mystery. Slow hour by hour The moon climbs up the spangled girt of heaven Until it tells 't is midnight from the top When it keystones the arch. The earth is still As unplumbed deep, save for a cricket's cry, Or those strange shadowy sounds of field and wood From the wild life. The men are all asleep, Wrapped in the trust the soldier gives to earth So soon he lays him on that mother's breast. Is that the thud of horse-hoofs Nay, a hare Has seen some lynx eyes glimmer, and its feet Thump hard the dry ground as it leaps away. Is that the clank of arms from coming host It is a partridge covey stirred from sleep Piping its call of danger. So the night Wears on in doubts and fears. Now comes true note 4 I A MIDNIGHT VENTURE In tramps of hard-spurred horse o'er yonder fields With steady swinging beat, with halt and plunge To clear the fences. Then the phantom shape Of eager scout, half glimpsed at first, then clear; And now before the captain halts the man To make his swift report. " Where is your mate" " They dropped him on the road." "How many came" " Three hundred men." "How far away " "Two miles, Their horse hoofs blanketed. They're mharching slow And still as ghosts." " Where will they come on us" By the wood road that falls into this pike Three hundred yards in front of where we stand." "You 've done good work, my man; now to the rear, And if you find a troop on way to us, Bid them ride hard. There's scant an hour's time Before the finish." Then to his lieutenants: "They know our fix, and plan to ride us down By a swift charge, but we will meet that trick. Have up the men and drill them at the guns, So they'll be nimble when the moment 's here. No bugle call, but wake them one by one, And bid them keep it as a churchyard still. Put prolongs on the guns for slow retreat. I '1I to that patch of corn across the way, Down where the wood road enters on this pike. 42 A MIDNIGHT VENTURE There I can watch them forming for the charge And see it launched. So soon they are away My pistol will give signal. Load and fire With double canister. Three rounds of that The reloads by the muzzles. Then fall back A quarter to that rise. There turn two guns For sweep to right and left; so if they swing To flank us, they will have no chance to form. By that time I 'II be with you." " No, you '11 be Asleep by that time, for you 'II be in range Of eighteen double charges - gallon each - That 's twice ten thousand bullets down this road." Well, count out twenty when you hear my shot That will give plenty time to mount and skip. If I stay there and still they press, then go Lickety-split, straight back upon our lines. Use all the steadiest men for rear guard And turn the hindmost caisson at the bridge, And rig a slow match to it." "'We '11 not need To scuttle out of here. We '11 send their charge In rags a-dancing twenty feet in air." Now is the captain hidden in the corn Close to the cross-road, looking for his life Into that sombre wood arch, seeing there The shades of legions, till there silent comes Out of the darkness more substantial shapes, 43 A MIDNIGHT VENTURE Creeping like fog wreaths out into the way With footfalls muffled and with orders passed Whispered from man to man. Slowly it forms Back from the sentry still as thunderbolt Awaiting for the stroke. For half an hour- To him full half his life - the spectre grows, Until it is arranged. Then trumpeter Rises in stirrups, ready for the blast To send it onward waving in the charge. Now while our captain, with forefinger set Upon the trigger, draws his breath and holds For the first note of bugle, forth there rides A horseman from the front, who warily Creeps towards his foe, listens with leaned head, Then rides on till his shape is but a blur Upon the shadowy way. There halts again As if he saw grim death within that dark. Now he creeps back in silence to his front, Passing a whispered order. Then the host Breaks into files and slips out on the way Whereon it came, to vanish in the wood. And as he wonders comes a breath of air Out of the north that reads the mystery, For in it floats a sound as sobbing bell That far off rings a dirge: it is the note Of sponge-staff slipping from the brazen throats Where his men make them ready for the work. This midnight drill told mischief to the man Who did the scouting; bade him 'ware the trap 44 A MIDNIGHT VENTURE He knew they'd set for him: so it scotched The foemen's game to ride him straightway down; His own, to blow their might to rags in air. Yet there is room for other; yea, that host Daunted in front should try a better move On byway that will bring them to the rear Close by the hill he'd chosen to make a stand, When the first stroke was given. There he hies As swift as horse can take him. As he comes To scout that danger in the north, he hears A sound that swells each instant as a surge Trampling adown the shore. First faint and far As thunder from beyond the line of sky, - The quake of air felt not in ear but heart, Then pulsing roar that mounts as does a flame In baffling wind, until it fills the vale. Now the glad echoes of a bugle ring, Shouting a league the help that surges on To hard-pressed brothers, clamouring to foes The mighty hunger of a host that ride With drawn swords at their hearts. Then by the flash From iron hoofs he sees the avant-guard Sway up the steep to sight, and now he swings On run beside their leader, tells the tale As on they spurring go right through the guns, In roaring charge with welcome in a cheer From men who've watched the night out for the like With other herald from their silent guns. Then on the trail of foe for miles away 45 A MIDNIGHT VENTURE Searching the trodden path, to find at end The foemen had won back into their hold. So came the finish to this bit of war, In march and countermarch and mighty deeds That lacked naught but the doing -yet were done - In valiant reckoning; and were as true As they were writ in heart's blood on the earth. After long years, again a tipsy chap Gabs to our captain of old days and deeds, Tells how when he was chosen for a scout, He had well braided in his horse's tail A plan of all our works, and how he bore Straight to the Rebels tale of where there hung Six good guns for the plucking; how he led That host upon its errand, saw it turn Upon the edge of ruin. " We were smart, But you were derned sight smarter; yet you missed The chance to catch us in the trap you set. 'T was too well baited. If you 'd laid your men Watching beside your guns, you'd had us, sure. We'd had you for all that, upon the flank, But for those chaps who came in nick of time. They seemed ten thousand by the roar they made, All riding like the Devil on a spree The very wind of 'em blew us away: And so you saved your guns. Next time you try To play that game, don't make the trick too fine, For then it's sure to miss." 46 A MIDNIGHT VENTURE 47 Yea, Tipsy Jim, Your maundering wisdom's good, and it may serve In warring past the sky; but that is done We waged upon this earth. There was a slip In that fair reckoning, but who 'd have thought That sob of gun, mere whisper in the day, Would bay like watch-dog in the still of night! EAST TENNESSEEANS THERE 'S need of scouting, for the night is here, And not a word from all the men we've sent Seeking for touch from what we know comes on Of flying columns waiting for a chance To a swift stroke. The leader does not sleep In this uncertainty, so straight he goes Alone to search the ways for ten miles out Where danger lurks. In the good light of sun A scout is best made with a force of men, For then there 's help in peril. But in night It needs be done alone, for, truth, you have But hide and horse to care for, you may run The where and when you will, with never thought Of friend vou 've left behind: or you may have At anything that looms up from the dark Barring your way. For in war's ugly world The else safe counts as foe. Some find it fearsome thus To search in shadows for the angel death. It has its dark side, yet 't is not so black As waiting for that shape to leap on you In roar of whirling charge. Now he is forth On the Lord's errand - on into the dark. It is a noble land, e'en in the night It matches w, ith the sky. - 'T is two o'clock EAST TENNESSEEANS The waning moon slips up, a sickle now, That hardly dims near stars, and yet it sends A ghost of day to show the low-arched hills, And here and there at cross-roads villages, All lifeless, silent as a place of graves, For in such time 't is best you seem as dead For fear of death to come. - In the wide roads, Hard trodden, white, where his keen eyes can see A furlong's length, he gallops on with care To keep the side path, where the hoof may fall Noiseless upon the clay, 'scaping the ring On the hard stone bed you may hear a mile, In night-time's stillness. 'Neath the over-arch Of the great woods, he slips on at a walk With drawn reins, bent neck, watching sentry's hail For wheel and scurry in the scanty time 'Twixt shout and shot. - Yea, it is marvellous How peopled is the night with bustling things That are and are not. Now it is a fox On nightly foray; now the thing he hunts That slips across the way. Now a raccoon Or lumbering opossum plies the trade Of chase or flight in immemorial war. They startle, for they live, and safety lies On his hard errand only with the dead. Each glimpse of light and shadow hath its ghosts That dance beneath the moon to vanish swift As he creeps up to them. But now there comes Under that arch of trees what seems a throng 49 Of unranked men, who, as he nears, slip out Into the brushwood. He's so close to them, That if they 're foes 't would be in vain to flee Thus at their muzzles. 'T was at least a score That sought that hiding; half of that's enough From ambush to lay down both man and horse. The game's to chance it, spur right on their heels, That they may hold him herald of a host. Thus in a trice the rowels send him on So swift he fells the nearest, and they turn As hunted beasts at bay. Dark as it is, He knows they are not soldiers, but a throng Of motley country folk, who are not led, But drifting in the night. At his command They down their arms and yield them willingly, As if they welcomed master in their plight. Their tale's soon told: they're men from Tennessee, Searching the wilderness to find the flag 'Neath which they'd serve. For forty weary days They'd hidden in the forests, tramped at night With pole-star for their guide. So on and on, Near naked, starved and footsore, they have crept By many a camp and march to find but foes Where they had hoped for friends, until they were As hopeless as e'er men upon a wreck, Drifting they knew not where. The voice he heard Out of the shadow told of valour still For all the quaver that starvation brings. "You 've got us, mister; we '11 go right along; EASTTENNESSEEANS so EAST TENNESSEEANS There ain't no fight in us. A month ago You-uns would had a tussle 'fore we'd down. Give us one good, square meal, and you will find A right smart chance of it. You '11 haul us in, But damned if we are going for to fight Agin the Union flag." So they came on, As sorry lot as ever tramped behind A silent leader. Now the outposts halt, And word with the commander; then the camp In early morn, and soon that good, square meal Heart-staying bread and beans and coffee, too, That lights the soul of man. They look about, And find whereat to wonder. " Hello," cries one, "You 've swapped your Rebel rags for Yankee clothes; Guess you feel cleaner. See there, boys, - that chap Who fetched us in: he's like the Union man Who led the raid at Holston; guess he's hooked That fellow's uniform. Damned if I see Just where we're at. They 've left us with our guns. Been mighty perlite; 'tain't the way of Rebs When they catch Union men." And now the sun And tap of reveille send up the flag. Wide-eyed they gaze upon it, wonderingly, As if the angel of the Lord had swept Down through the vault. And then the leap of heart Of men who thought them captives, who have found That they have won to freedom from their goal, And wild hurrah that hails their victory. 5 I THE GEORGIANS THE homes were swept; there were no more recruits Save for good cash in hand, and they knew well Where cash was plenty and the bounties great For any two-legged thing. The battery, That needed six score, had but sixty men, For they leak out in war, some to the brush And some to mother earth. He must have men Or else a muster out. So when he heard There was a bunch of Georgians in " the pen" Made prisoners yesterday, who would enlist, His carnal hunger for recruits rose up And sorely tempted him. No, it won't do, He is a scoundrel who would change his flag! The more he thought of it, the worse it seemed To have those rascals bargaining for a place That shamed the soldier's trade. His head was red, And in him fancy for high-sounding phrase; So he hies to the pen. - They are a lot Of that old English breed of Georgia's hills Such as he'd longed for; strapping, nimble chaps, To dance about great guns or whirl them back When the need comes; some five and thirty men, Ragged and gaunt, to shape within a week To pretty fellows. He has speech in mind And it must out, so now he bids the troop THE GEORGIANS To sit upon the ground for his discourse. You are our prisoners, and would enlist With us for service 'gainst the cause you swore To serve as men. You chose the traitors' part, As some good men have done, and now you seek To play deserters' part. You should be hanged." So on and on until his fume was spent. They listened patiently till he was done; Then rose their leader, who had whiled the time Whittling a stick, spat his tobacco juice In manner of a geyser, and began: Cap, that 'ar speech of yourn was mighty fine; The trouble is that you don't know a thing Of what you 've talked about. We 're 'listed men Who 've sworn to fight with Rebels That ain't so; They just charged in and tuck us: set us up In rows with other fellers; gave us guns And packed us off to fight. We-uns have cussed A mighty lot, but we hain't never sworn To stay there where they sot us in them lines. Now see here, Cap, we-uns don't know a thing Of this damned war 'cept fellows have to fight, And this here crowd will do it where they find A show for wittles. We have been nigh starved For more 'n a year, perished almost to death. Six ears of corn on cob- it ain't enough To keep a mule alive." Here was a case For gentle casuistry. 'Hap 't was true That these men were impressed and so had 'scaped 53 The binding oath of soldier and were free To stand in arms for us. Were they now held By service they'd accepted though compelled At point of bayonet The schoolmen might Battle this point until the end of war, But here the scales were weighted. So he says: "You know, my men, what comes if you are caught - You '11 surely hang for it." " Reckon that's so, If they get hold of us. We '11 see to that- We '11 see that we ain't cotched." Where true men stand In sight of halter, they will dig their heels And bide where they have stood. They never think, As does the knave, to scuttle, but they stay With toes to line. So he enlists the lot, Sends them to quartermaster for the change From grey to blue, and sees them duly sworn For loyal duty. Next day comes the chance To show the quality of these recruits. The captain's sitting making up accounts Close by his tent door, looking down the field Where the six guns are parked: at other end The calaboose, where " bucked and gagged " there lies An ugly Welshman: sober, a good man; When drunk, as now, the devil. By him tramps A sleepy guard with sabre. On the side A Georgian whittling squats upon the ground. All's well, and so our captain turns again THE GEORGIANS 54 THE GEORGIANS 55 Back to his papers, till he hears a cry - Look out! " There comes the raging prisoner, Who's slipped his bonds, snatched sabre from the guard, Charging across the field straight for a life, As thirsty tiger broken from his cage. In blessed peace you mizzle when a man Crazy or drunk has at you; but in war You needs must see it through. Our captain takes Revolver from its holster; tries right well To see that it is ready for the work; Sets elbow on the table, lines the man, And waits for the last moment 'fore he'll fire Straight at the fellow's head. A hundred yards With athlete takes ten seconds - tipsy chap Will need fifteen to do it; so he has Full time for preparation and to think How nasty is his fix. He is to slay One of his men. Howe'er it comes about, It is a villain thing to do: it stays As smirch upon a name. But there is help. The Georgian takes it in, and with a leap Is launched upon the run. To left oblique Bent low and swift he smites the charging fool, So that he flies three paces through the air; Then turns him face to earth, sits upon his neck, And whittles quietly. The pinioned knave Claws at the earth, until up comes the guard To lug him back to jail, a sobered wight, Nigh ready for his work. The Georgian squats 56 THE GEORGIANS Once more and whittles, and the field 's once more The dull parade it was. The captain puts His pistol back in holster, takes his pen, And wrestles with accounts. He has not budged From off his camp-stool, yet he 's been away Beside a brother soldier who once lacked A blessed Georgian in a like sore need, So had to slay his man. A bitter tale, Yet a fair pendant to the one that's told And so 'hap worth the telling. It 's a street Near by a camp, where lies a regiment Fresh from disaster; glad of chance to creep Behind the sheltering forts. In that command There was a father and two likely sons, All of his brood. It was a frequent sight To see thus sire and sons ranged in a line, For that time stirred men's hearts. 'T was yesterday Both youths were slain; slain in a foolish fight, For the brave leader, of the hapless kind That know not fear, see nothing but the foe, "See red'" and charge right on, had lost his men In Balaklavan way, without receipt. Of such great poets sing, but common men Who give their life for service rage o'er it, Or sulk their work until that leader goes And comes another who digests brave fear And turns it into wisdom. The lone sire, Crazed with his grief, sees there across the way THE GEORGIANS His colonel, draws pistol, bids him Stand and take his punishment. The officer, As on parade, stands stock-still, while the man Sends his five shots at him. They all go wild. Revolvers are no good unless your nerves Are at their best, or when the muzzle's set Plumb 'gainst the chap you want. The hapless man Sets to unsling his carbine. " Stop right there," Calls out the colonel. " You have had your chance." It is unslung, the cartridge charged, and now He lifts to fire. The ready pistol cracks, The shot goes through the head. The colonel Saunters along to camp as if he had Nothing upon his mind, yet he knows well That while it was a fair shot, fairly sent In a good knightly way, it rang the end Of his career as soldier. For the hulk That lies there in the gutter he cares naught; He gave him chance to win: what would you more In the grim work of war 57 THE BATTERY You know the old war chariot Three abreast Its eager steeds; the jockey bending low; To right and left the archers with their bows And ready javelins. You see it bound On scythe-armed wheels across the roaring plain Reaping the harvest; see it smite the line, Break through and turn - and fancy Trojan war Had Satan's splendour to our day unknown, When even slaughter's smudged with commonplace, Its nobler shapes all gone. But come with me To nearby field, - nearby in time and place, And near to our sad hearts, - to see that where Is valiant death is splendour such as burns Beholders' very souls. You'll know that, when, I n the far happy days, war is forgot, Save for its vanished glory, men will turn Not to the Trojan legend, not to Gaul Of Cxsar's fields or else of distant days, But to our age, the last to bear this woe Where valour rules vast engines and goes on With might into the gulf. The day is hot From the corn-ripening sun; but hotter yet In loosed nether Hell of hard-fought field. Half league away the line, here the reserves THE BATTERY That wait on need; between, the ground that 's won, Strewn with the price of it. There in the front Throb on the cannon like a mighty drum Beating a tocsin, while the steadfast roar Of musketry sways as the trampling seas On far-off shore. Here it is peace; the men Are scattered on the grass, some writing home, Some cleaning arms or patching bits of gear, Most chewing cud of fancies such as come Jumbled into your wits when you wait on For death to beckon you unto your place, In his imperious way. A battery Stands ready in the road. The horses feed Out of their nose-bags, while the waiting men, Ready to leap to stations, snatch a meal From greasy haversacks. The officers Have made their last inspection, every bolt And bar and strap is searched, and now they stand Silent beside their steeds. They know the word's With yon swift rider spurring o'er the field Straightway to them. They knew the need before In backward swaying of the cloud that tells Where our line yields its ground. Now he is here With swift command: " A run for it 1 " he calls: They press us hard." Forward! the bugle sings, And ere its notes have echo, horses leap Brave-hearted to the tugs, as if they knew The need that bade them on. It whirls away, That might of valour, six-score iron men 59 THE BATTERY And six-score steeds that share their masters' souls; Rushing death's engines to the gates of death, All knit as one to slay that they may save The Lord's fair purposes. It spurns the earth, Beating to dust the fields, leaping the bounds Of fence and hedgerow. Still the riders check WNith hard-drawn rein their horses, that they save Their might for what 's to come -- when half are down And half must do the task. On, straight on, We ride there with the captain on the flank Beside the aide who leads. - Three furlongs won, And we break forth upon the battled space Our lines have gained -thereon to meet the blast. First comes a shell from well-aimed gun, that stoops As pouncing hawk, and in its whirl of fire A man and horse have vanished: then the rain Of those swift unseen messengers, the shot Nipping now here, now there, a man or steed. All bend them low as those who face the storm Upon their way to saving when a ship Is cast away and hapless pleads for help. Swift fly the lashes on the faltering beasts And rowels are sent home in bloody flanks. The leaping wheels cut deep the field thick-strewn With dead and wounded; those the bearers leave In keeping of the Lord, because past help Of all his ministers. There a dying lifts A hand to show he lives: but on, straight on, As merciless as thunderbolt that flies 60 THE BATTERY 6 Upon its errand, roars this might of war Over the hapless, dashing out the life That clung o'erlong to earth. They dare not swerve For Christ or brother, for their task 's to save The turn of instant scales; a second's time Is nigh eternity in that high task. The helpless bow their heads, the wheels roar on The summit's won; -the bugle flares, " Right wheel In battery! " The nimble horses swing Swift to the call, but swifter yet the shot Held for the fatal moment smite half down. Yet with a leap the living rend them free From cumbering dead and whirl the guns about. Then in a trice they're turned upon the foe That swam the further slope ten rods away. 'T is double canister. The guns rear up As forth they roar their murder, hurling earth And all upon it far into the air. Six rounds and all's swept bare upon the front; But on the flanks the riven host roars in, Heads low for bayonet work. To right and left They flood the sections, sweeping out the men Spiking the guns; but now the centre turns Near muzzles on them: one hot blast to right And, with swift shift, like besom to the left, And they are blown out, rent by hurricane To bits and shreds that spatter down to earth, What once were men -good friends and foes alike, For in that mortal tussle there 's no choice THE BATTERY 'Twixt friend and foe. Yea, there we slay to save The Lord's fair purposes. Now the support Of infantry comes double-quick to stamp Into the earth what's left of the assault. They sweep on through the ruin with no pause Save for the stumble o'er the tangled heaps, Or lunge of bayonet and time to tread Hard down with one foot while you heave it out And set you for the next who scurries back With what is left to bear him. Then the whirr Of musketry that drifts on in the chase - And so the task is done. The line is saved, For the reserves are up to patch it out In a rude front as they find room for feet Upon the cumbered earth. Yea, it is done, That Satan's deed of splendour. Look about, And see what swath of harvest it has cut. 'T is just five minutes since it breasted up The last hard steep and hurled it at the task. See there, the trail from furlong's length away Marked by the fallen men and steeds swift torn Out of their harness. All the men lie still As is the way of dead, or silent bleed Waiting good helper, be it angel death. But here and there a horse raves piteously In the blind way of beast who knows alone Of its hard agony. You 've heard that scream From wounded horse It is the sorest cry 62 THE BATTERY In this shamed earth of battle. Swift there forth Details to slay them, while the bearers go On jog trot to their task. Here by our side Lie quivering heaps, where horse and man are mixed With wrecks of carriages that bore the guns All splintered by the blast that swept the foe To right and left when centre section whirled For the last conquering stroke. Ay, 't is done The task for which it waited like a sphere That hungers blindly through the frozen voids Until it finds the end in one vast stroke That fits His purposes and recreates With its own ruin. Look once more and see The old war chariot. Set it 'gainst this scene, And know thy time hath splendour to the eyes That have the sight for it; splendour of men Who giants are to pigmies of old days - Who by their might will part them from this shame Of stricken fields. 63 THE EAGER MUSTER ONCE more it is the mad year sixty-two, When came the mightiest wrestle of the war That shook the earth. Bragg's host had rent our lines, And like a mighty sea swept onward north. The fringe of the vast surge had swept our wreck, Our rear guards, and our new lines like the sands Before the waves. Yet here and there they stood, Those shreds of armies, for a hopeless fight, Save for the hope to win a day, an hour Of time for preparation on the lines Where we must stay and hold. There in the rout That streamed on roads and by-ways to the town, Where we should turn to bay, there came a troop, Six-score recruits to be a battery Horsed for swift work along with cavalry. Some twenty more there were, but they've been lost The yesterday in fight-a mongrel lot, Ranging from saints to sinners. With them were Disbanded minstrel troops and knaves from jails; For in our sorry need we could not leave Stout wight to play at checkers with his nose At prison window; swift we had him out, And swiftly swore him in to serve the Lord In Lincoln's host. There were enough of saints, Of Cromwell's type, to shape the iron frame THE EAGER MUSTER 6 So it would hold those rascals to their place. Chief of those masterful hail Austin Earle, First sergeant: first of men in manliness; You little, scrawny chap from Tennessee, Slave-holder who had pondered it to end: Turned abolitionist and won you through Your way of battle, on for thirty years, Because you were the swiftest thing afoot In the hard smiting. 'T was a sight to see The tiger's leap with which you smote the fool Who had to learn a gentle, silent man With woman's face was sure and sudden death To mutineers. So with the help of saints, Who might seem sinners in this other day, To you who read these lines, that troop was shaped For stout men's duty when they came to seek In Cincinnati for the outer things That make a battery- guns, horses, gear, Munition, uniforms for ragged backs, And food for empty bellies. On they came With myriads like them, needing all but limbs And the stout hearts they bore, to make them fit For task to come. - They're ranked upon the street, And forth their captain goes to shape the plan He has to win those needs. There's martial law, With good fist right to clutch what you would win So soon you have the order in your hand. And here's a city with fair chance to find Now here, now there, the bits that may be shaped THE EAGER MUSTER To well-horsed battery. So straight he hies, Seeking Lew Wallace, finds him in his bath- The time is daybreak and the sentry 's dull Makes short work of his story -.'t is well conned To have it brief. The general hears him through, Says: "We 've no guns; we '11 muster in your men As infantry." Has answer, " No, you won't; That is an old trick -they have had my word, I'll burn their papers 'fore it comes to that." "You '11 take a dose for it." "But they'll be burned Before I 'm tried. If you will give me chance, I 'II have a battery before night falls. The men are disciplined; there is a score Who know the gunner's duty, for they've served." "What do you want" " Impressment order good For all I need." " Hunt up my adjutant And write it out." Then, with the order signed, He's forth, a despot with the might to seize Whatever comes to hand - men, horses, guns, So swift he finds them. The town's a roar With teams that bear away its precious wares To 'scape from feared assault. He grabs two score Of horses fit for saddle, mounts on them His forty trustiest men, then with his force Sweeps streets to find the stoutest four-horse teams; 66 THE EAGER MUSTER Chooses of these some thirty; 't is enough For men and guns. The amazed drivers go Willing to their new task; the wagons stay Where they may chance to stand. Now for the guns. A trusty scout has found that in the shop Of Greenwood there are six napoleons With battery wagon, forge, and all their gear, Ready to ship to Morton, then war lord Of Indiana, -governor in name, - Who ruled his commonwealth in Cromwell's way By being ever ready. So they 're forth, Horses, drivers, guards, to the factory yard. There stand the guns they 've dreamed of. What a trove! Shining like gold, their frames of sturdy oak: The hard-knit fibre gleaming through the oil Like shafts of ancient spears. With pounce of hawk The men are on them as the men of Rome Upon the Sabine virgins, gently, swift, All ready for the run. There needs be halt To fit the toggles to the whiffletrees. For this the wondering smiths are levied on And set to work. The captain takes this time To seek out Master Greenwood for a word Of courtesy -at least to lift mere theft To highway robbery. Finds him with his men Busied with war-gear in its myriad shapes. I 've come, sir, for the guns that you have made, There 's need of them." "They go by train this noon, 67 THE EAGER MUSTER It's all arranged." " They go by horse straight forth Out to the front; by night they'll be at work." My lad, it can't be done." " It's doing now. So soon your blacksmiths fit the toggles on We'll forth with them. Here is the order signed That gives authority." He scans the paper well; 'T is brief, but clear; giving its holder right To do his will between deep earth and sky. It's robbery !" " It's war, that hath its will With life and else. 'T is best you write Your protest 'gainst this wrong." The paper signed, The bugle calls the assembly and we're forth To seek the ordnance office. We lack still Munition for the guns. They're pretty things, But lack the saving grace. Now at the store Where guns are victualled there 's a host of men Wildly about like search: the needed work Of finding provender for twenty kinds Of small-arms and of cannon. He, the chief, Swears there is not a round to fit our bores In all his heaps. Here is a sorry fix: A battery in seeming; not a charge Of shot or shell to fit it -worth no more Than stars in space for all the needs of war. In such a coil you guess hard -speculate 68 THE EAGER MUSTER With the old gambler, Chance. So now the lad, Thus foiled by fate, guesses that he may find The needed ammunition on the trains That throng the railway yards, for in that time The earth was sown with it. So forth he leads His empty splendour on his vagrant quest. Cars, endless cars, some thousands more or less, And trainmen striving hard to send them on- 'T is needle in a haystack of a search, And yet there is a chance in seeking out Those sent from arsenals. Now in a trice A score of axes play upon locked doors; The goods are tumbled forth. Here's one that's filled With boxes marked as " twelve-pounder howitzer." The hit's a miss, and yet the train-yards yield None nearer to the quest. What can be done Here you should know that in the howitzer A mongrel cannon -there's a chamber cut At base of bore and half the width of it, Wherein the cartridge fits. 'T is half the charge Of powder needed for napoleons: And what is worse, the fuse will fail to send Its fire to the charge. So while the shot, The shell, and shrapnel, and the canister Have a like shape for both, the difference Is all that needs be for the devil's task Of shaping failure as reward for toil. Yet there's a way out Satan has not blocked: 69 THF E EAGER MUSTER And so the captain fills the boxes full, Heaps limbers, cannon, battery wagon, forge; Stows sundry tons on wagons nabbed nearby, And makes all ready for a quick march south: Then hies him to a shop where he may find Bolts of red flannel fit for cartridge bags. A dozen of these bolts, with needles, thread, And thimbles, finish out an ample store. Then for the march. -The men upon the guns Are tailor-like at task of doubling up The bags of powder, putting two in one. 'T is dabster work, and yet it serves the need; The guns won't mind the fashion, so they have A full gorge in their bellies; nor the shot Question the cartridge's shape, if it but give Hell's breath to hurl it hard upon its way. 'T was sundown when we crossed the pontoon bridge And found swift chance out to the waiting lines, WThere guns were angels, few and far between, And welcome as those visitants from sky. That night we had a dance beside our guns Beneath the moon -a nimble minuet 'Twixt limber and the piece: all to the tune That number one played for us with the beat Of rammer and of sponge-staff. It was day Before the frolic ended. Nothing's told 70 THE EAGER MUSTER 71 In all this tale but trifles Yea, there 's hid Beneath the heap good bit for history, Better than most she garners. 'T is that men, Plain men, trained in the blessed work of peace, Are soldiers in their hearts, and have the way, The Cxesar's way, of straight on to their end. THE OBSERVANT MAN Now it's the rear of that defeat, Bull Run, Not first, but second: first was folly, this Was mighty near to shame. Under the cloud Of powder smoke, reserves were streaming in To stay disaster. Nearby is a field, Where early in the fight the surgeons set The tables for their task. Now we're forced back; They 've been moved northward, and the place is cleared Save for the hopeless and for those who've found Fair hope beyond the bar. Just then I greet A sometime schoolmate : dearest of galoots, XWho being fledgling parson found his place In the field hospitals. Of old 't is true But two years gone, and yet so far away The dear galoot had fancy that a man, Even the priestly, should "observe " always As naturalist: at all times seeking facts In this vast thinginess of everything. We knew the Lord had shaped him for pure faith And not for sceptic's work, that cuts and pares Down to the heart of earth; but he kept on Observing this and that in mole-like way. 'T was plain he had served well - from head to foot He bore the marks of it - in dust and blood, THE OBSERVANT MAN Patches of lint and pockets bulging out With tourniquets and bandages. 'T was clear He'd done Christ's work of help with soul and hands. This I said to him, moved by nobility That shone right through his grime. For answer had: I have observed a curious fact: this is, That of the wounded brought for surgeon's aid Just eighty-nine per cent. of them are hit In arms or legs; that leaves but eleven For head and body hits. Measuring, I find That the proportion of the trunk and head To rest of man is about six to ten. My observation's made on many fields And on some thousand wounded, so it's plain This discrepancy shows some natural law: It seems past finding out." Yea, it was plain- The " natural law " of it: it is that wits Are yet more discrepant. That man may be Saviour of men, cap of nobility, Yet drown at once in those poor shallow deeps The naturalist explores. 73 MADAME B.'S REVIEW You think that war is weighty ; that its deeds Are ever done with that Olympian front Of Bonaparte in battle, which you know In text and picture Half of it is farce, And half the rest low comedy, as fits This comic creature man. The scene 's a field Whereon a hard-marched thousand sits to hold A ford against the crossing of their foe. They're hot about it, clearing for the fight The barns and trees that block the way of shot; Setting the cannon so the wheels stay firm In the fierce leaps they '11 make; digging the pits To serve for shelter, and in time for graves; Scouting for place where surgeons may set up The tables for their work so they may be Out of the sweep of fire, and yet near by. The leader of the force rides hard to see, Now here now there to need, for he must count On scant an hour for all. On further bank The storm is shaping, and the foemen scouts Send now and then a shot and take like hail From our own outposts. Now the worst is by; The men are in the ranks to wait what comes With house set well in order. MADAME B.'s REVIEW 75 What is there Upon the road where rises nearby hill Ramshackle coach, the Southern kind, that serves For hen-roost till it's needed to give state To some forth going; negro on the box: Within a stately dame. It 's bad to have Your foe upon your flank; it 's something worse To find a woman thus upon your rear. So swift an aide is sent to bid her go About her business; but he hies back With word 't is Madame B., with message stern To the commander, in demand that he Hear her complaint. He knew well Madame B. Some five years back, when he was but a lad The relict of a famous general, An ancient splendour; sample of the dames Who ruled the South of old, and shaped a court In any cabin where they dwelt. Right masterful Were those great mistresses; and so he jumps To do her bidding as the only way To have her off the field. He makes his bow To saddle-bow, and is right glad to see He is to her a stranger, who's to have Short shrift of courtesy. " Are you the man In charge of all this gang" " Madam, I am Commander of this force. What would you have" " A gentleman to right a woman's wrong, If there is such about." MADAME B.'s REVIEW 1s Madam, I trust There 's one here at your service. What is it " "An insult to my daughter by a hound Who wears your uniform." "What did he do He called to fellow-stragglers as they passed, There is a darned secesh.' " " That is too bad, And if I had the knave, I 'd have him gagged And bucked until he'd keep a civil tongue; But how are we to find him " " Sir, i 'm here To seek that scoundrel." " But, ma'am, we are now With battle on us: just beyond the stream The enemy are massed. You see their scouts They've changed shots with our men." Sir, I am A soldier's widow and a soldier's child. I don't mind that: I'm here to find that hound And have him beaten. I will stay for that Until it 's done." Here was a pretty fix A grand dame who'd face battle for her right Ofjustice at his hands. Should he refuse To heed her plea and pack her off the field, She'd win the game, have one more monstrous tale Of our iniquity. So now he tries Again a counter. " Madam, will you go With me along the line; inspect the men 76 MADAME B.'s REVIEW 77 It is the only way." Sure this will turn The woman from her purpose. Answer comes Pat on the question: " I am here for that; I thank you for the favour; yes, you know What's due a woman." He is in for it. He orders to have all the men in place, With word a mother claims that one of them Has wronged her daughter, that she dares the risk In search for justice. They must bear them well To clear them from this shame. All is prepared; The men are ranked ; the roll-call had; the absentees Accounted for. And now she takes his arm, Goes slowly down the front - five hundred men Scanning each face; and then 'twixt open ranks, Searching along the rear. The chaps behave As angels in the trial: eyes to front And faces set as those of monuments, With not one quirk or giggle from the host. Yea, it was strangely solemn, this parade With aged mistress, soldier in her heart, Searching a thousand on the eve of fight, To find the knave who 'd wronged her. -War is rich In oddest happenings, for then the world Is topsy-turvied, yet since swords were swung BWas never chance like this. - Now wearily At the last man, she says: " He is not here." And he to her: " Madam, the roll-call had, When you began the search, showed all were here, 78 MADAME B.'s REVIEW Save those on sick-leaves. Will you read the lists " "Sir, you are an officer; I '11 take your word, Your men are soldiers. I am grieved to find That I have wronged them. Ah, there was a time I loved that flag ; loved every man that stood Beneath its folds. It all comes back to me - That happy day that's dead." She's in her coach Makes her adieux as grand dame, passes on, While we go back to dirty business. THE GENERAL'S YARN A STAFF STORY IF YOU knew Gordon Grainger, you'd a chance To know a soldier: every inch of him Wrought on war's anvil by the hammer's stroke- Indians and Mexico; second dragoons: Hard schools for modest virtues, but they brought Whate'er there was of Caxsar right to front. He saved at Chickamauga what there came Ashore from that wild wreck, and held it safe Until we shaped of it again good ships To breast that dooming sea. He did that task Under the master, Thomas. Grainger was Of the good second order: not the first Who have the whole of CQsar. For a day- To stop a gap -I served upon his staff; Had then the chance to see the easy way Of the war masters: how a thunderclap Was no more to them than the buzz of fly. Hard day in that hard year of sixty-two, In midst of hot campaign, we'd stopped to feed Ourselves and horses at a cross-road's inn, Headquarters for the nonce. We'd had our fill Of what there was of food, and waited on Our heels upon the table so they'd cool- THE GENERAL'S YARN For cattle who won't learn that they should bolt Their provender in man's way. In the next room The telegraph was ticking, for we'd tapped A nearby line to have the news from front. As was his wont the general spun a yarn,- 'T was tedious stuff; about some frontier post, Women and whiskey, cards and Indians,- We listened as was fit: the old chaps know That's the aide's business. I noted for a time He seemed to listen while he talked, and then- The tale kept up the while -he took his pad, Wrote leisurely upon it, becked orderly, And gave it to him, then spun on his yarn At somewhat better speed. Soon hustled in The operator with despatch. The general looked Indifferently upon it and spun on. He gave it me: it told the enemy Was breaking through our lines three miles away. I passed it to the next, and so it went Its circle round the board. But no one spoke, For we knew better, till at last a lad New come upon the staff and still right fresh Cried out: " Why, general, what are we to do Shut up, my lad: I did that business Some time ago, don't interrupt me when I 'm in a story. I was saying she- So on again until that weary tale Was told out to the end. Then, horses done, We're forth to see how fares that sore-pressed line. So THE GENERAL'S YARN It was all right; he 'd met the need as well As if he 'd swung his sword and charged right there In the tin soldier's way. I asked him how He did the trick. "W hen I began my trade The telegraph was new: I saw the chance That somewhere in my work it might save time To read the ticking: so I practised it At frontier posts when I had plenty time. You saw just now the use: it saved for us About six minutes in a pinch; that counts Half mile with infantry; with horse a mile; Besides the blunders operators make When they're scared blue, as generally they are, With Hell to pay." THE ORDER AGAIN 't is Gordon Grainger, and a boy W\ho ran a battery -when Johnny Reb Did n't run him -as usual. Order came To be at certain cross-roads just at noon. This boy, dubbed captain, was right sure it meant To get there " lickety split," but it was plain As words could make it. So he piked along, On roads he knew, so fast that his support Of mounted infantry was ravelled out For five miles on the way. Now he's come Within a mile of it and there's an hour Of time to spare, and so he halts, to blow His winded horses, has their nosebags on For munch of forage, while the haversacks Are ransacked by the men, for Lord knows when Comes the next chance to feed. The halt gives time For swift inspection, so the lieutenants Are hard about it, seeing that each bolt, Spoke, pole, and bit of harness, all the gear Of limber trays are just as they should be For business that waits. Half-past eleven, Support is up and shaped; artificers Done with their jobs; battery-wagon, forge, Packed for the march: and now they wait at ease THE ORDER For lapse of twenty minutes; when they '11 go On trot for that last mile. Up Grainger comes His staff about him -with the careless look That in his sort shows that he 's full of care For what 's to come. He sees the battery there Loitering beside the way. Then with a jump He is upon the captain, pouring fire Right sulphurous upon his hapless head. It now is clear enough his order meant Go there with whip and spur. He set the time For shortest possible. The captain waits Till the volcanic burst has blown it out, Salutes, and hands the order back to him. "While that stands I '11 be there at noon exact; I took headquarters' time." The old man reads, Looks kindly on the boy. Then lifting up His trumpet note so all should hear who heard The other blast: " I took you for damned fool; I am that fool myself. The order 's changed; Eleven forty is the time you '11 be Astride that cross-roads." Ra-ta, Ra-ta-ta; A rush of heels and hoofs and it is done This telling trifle of the ways of men When the true soldier leads them. 8 3 THE NEW YEAR'S TOAST IT 'S on the Rappahannock, New Year's Eve. The lines are nigh together, and the stream That parts them is ice-bridged: so the hosts Can be right neighbourly when they 've the mind For kindly capers, such as fit the time When men's hearts forth to home. It 's late at night In the well-ordered camp of Federals; Tattoo's long sounded and all lights are out- So says the army Bible. But right here In middle of the camp, a mess-tent 's lit And fiddle tells a shindy: though grand rounds Goes by a-grinning, and first sergeants know But night and silence there. The uproar goes Beyond the reckoning- to general's tent. No martinet, but careful of his camp, He 's up and forth to find what it all means. Now at that mess-tent door he gapes and stares, Finding the queerest frolic. There they sit, Alternate blues and greys: Johnnies and Yanks, In friendliest of converse. He knows well The simple gamut of the soldier's sins, And has fit phrase for each: but what to do When your men mix up with the other side In midnight revelry - Trying to shape His wits for action, he is there espied. THE NEW YEAR'S TOAST 85 "Come right in, general, have a glass of beer; Johnnies, this is our leader: he's a brick You've seen him 'cross some fields, and now 's the chance To know him better. General, these here men From Old Virginia had us over there On Christmas Eve for supper. They have come For New Year's night with us. We will watch out This damned old year that's going, and we'll drink To better that's to come, when we may have One right good tussle that will settle it, So we may jump for home - and we '1 jump smart. It's on the tick of twelve, so we'll fill up. Here's to Marse Lee and Lincoln, -here's to chaps Who 've done their job; here 's to the lot who '11 do The rest of it; here's to Americans, Whichever side they 're on; here 's to the day When we won't have to sneak off in the night To tell a neighbour that a man was made For home consumption, not to fill up Hell." And they all drank that toast -the general, too. THE SMUGGLERS THE scene is on the line where, by their arms, Our men lie sleeping, weary of a day Hard fought, hard ended, where September's sun Crept forth beyond the arch of ravaged earth. Up climbs the harvest moon, content and still, Recking no more than other dead of woe That shames the field it lights. There silently Paces the captain, for his time of watch The warder of the host; while here and there On front and flanks and rear the pickets stand, Scanning the mystery of fearful night. Half league away across the trampled fields, Dotted with sleepers who await the Lord, The foemen line, with other faithful guards Who scan like dark. Now from the rear There comes the shout of sleepy sentinel Who hails a train, slow creeping from the wood Women and aged men who bear their dead, Gleaned from the field we reaped but yesterday, Unto the nearby churchyards, or where lie Their kindred by the thresholds, in the way The Southerns grave their folk. Unto that hail Our captain hastens, sees the woeful throng Mute by the biers laid 'neath the forest arch Upon the moon-flecked grass. It needs no words THE SMUGGLERS 87 To tell the tale; the story is as old As man's hard dealing with his fellow man In the great game they 've played upon earth's fields 'Neath sun and moon, since sun and moon gave light To show them how to slay. Why halt them there They bear the dead: grim passport on all ways, Even those trod by war. Yea, but the man Who treads the paths of war must doubt the Lord And question e'en His message. In his trade The neighbour 's ever villain, never safe Until his life's out. So our captain kneels Beside each swathed shape and searches well To make sure what it holds. First is a face, A dear boy's face, the glory of its morn Still shining in the night. The next a man's, Grizzled but strong, the face the boy's had been With two-score noble years set on its shape. And then the common lot of battled fields, So of the very earth they scarce need graves More than the wild beasts, who creep back to dust As best they may, swathed by the wind and rain; And now the last, well coffined, as it held One of the better sort: the lid fast closed Made ready for the grave. The captain calls The sentry to him; bids him break the seal With ready bayonet; turns back the cloth Shaped as to hide a corse, to find his quest, The trick of war masked in this garb of woe Great store of surgeon's gear; the keen-edged knives 88 THE SMUGGLERS That mock best-tempered swords; the saws to rend Poor shattered limbs apart; the tourniquets To stav the life tide; other fearful things That look like demon's engines, yet contrived For mercv's fairest task; and further store Of those great wonders that bid torment end In blessed sleep, or in the fevered blood Win 'gainst the unseen hosts that bid men die. Slow, bit by bit, he lays them on the grass, Searching as if to find if there be hid A written word in all. Then carefully Puts back each package, closes down the lid, Waves the procession on, and with it goes To where the bugle calls the enemy For moment's truce and fair way for his dead. There watches as the silent train creeps on Unto its welcome past the shadowed field. And with its passing enters to his soul On that hard questioning of honest man For deed that scents of shame. He knows full well He is by law a traitor, for he's given Help to the foe to meet war's sorest need- Help that will stay his line, send many a man Back to the front who else had surely gone Unto the grave or cumbered with his life. How came he to it But an hour ago His anger would have smote his nearest friend Who bade him do it. Yea, there came to him A moment's vision of the mighty woe THE SMUGGLERS That bided with his fellows -fevered men, Who waste out day by day until they fall Like leaves into the ditch -mere mangled shapes That patient, hopeless surgeons strive to mend, Yet fail for lack of tools to ply their trade. So true heart rose above the written law And hearkened to the Lord. Yea, that Lord's help Is with him still as forth he goes to seek The general of the host and give report In the brief soldier's way: " Why was that truce " " To have way for the dead their kindred bore South through the rebel line." " You had them searched" " I searched them through. Six coffins held their dead, The seventh, surgeons' outfits and supplies To serve their hospitals in this campaign." "Where is that precious coffin " " It's gone on Into the Rebel lines. I saw it safe Within their outposts. Surely by this time It warms their doctors' hearts and stills the men Who lie upon the tables, for we hear No more their torment." Then there comes a pause, While that grim soldier like a mother looked Upon the youth before him, then away. "You know the price of it" "Yea, that is clear: 'T is what some know as death and some as shame, A man betimes must take to serve his God." 89 JIM'S PARDNER'S TALES A TEXAN'S stories now. An ancient chap That I had cottoned to upon the trail In western Colorado at a time When Utes were on the war-path and 't was well You rode beside a man. He was one-eyed: A wipe of splintered shell had done the job, As I found afterwards. But the one that staved Had light for more than two. It made me think We'd better kept old Cyclops in our shape As we once had a chance to. When we met, He had his Winchester 'cross saddle-bow As he rode lazily. To give him hail I said: " Good-morning, stranger; looking out For trail of Indians" " Straanger," said he, I hain't lost nary Injun from my lot." At first he was quite offish, till he found We'd both known certain places in old times Where it was hot- and then we were quick friends, For all he 'd been a " Reb " and I a "Yank." That did n't matter; we rode now as men Who something knew of earth and its queer ways. The talk turned to the war, and when 't was ripe I asked my question: " What stays with you still Of nights and Sundays when you are alone " JIM'S PARDNER'S TALES For I was ever curious to find What's printed deep in ancient soldier's brain. Such tales are ever telling, and they have For prying wits their value as bare facts That help make up account of what is man. " I 'II tell you, neighbour, there ain't much that stays, Most seems all blurred, - sometimes there comes the look Of a dear boy, - though I 've forgot his name, - Who tried to give me his last message home, But skipped before he did. They're only two Two of a thousand like 'em I 'd have bet I 'd keep for all my life. I '11 tell you those. They are n't much, and I wonder why they stay As clear as yonder mountain, while the best, Lots more worth telling, where I've been mixed up With right hard fighting, where I 've come by holes That ache right smart, are like a pardner's yarns, Half misremembered and the rest all lies. I '1 tell you first of Gettysburg; the other Is clear off in the sky, and I don't see Just how to get it back. I was sent out With six guns and a bunch of cavalry In Pickett's charge, to stop halfway and hold, If they were licked back and might need some help. I 've seen a lot of charging -that beat all: Those chaps had glory in them, and they went As if straight for the sky; as we rode on In column by them, swift they danced away 9 I 92 JIM'S PARDNER'S TALES As if we were corralled. They knew our part And joked at it: ' You 'II never catch us here. Come on in half an hour, and you '11 have Share in the finish.' We knew mighty well We 'd staked it all on them. - Halfway came our place, That hole where we'd suck thumbs and see our mates Right in the game. Lord sakes, how they went on Under that sky of shells from hundred guns Our side sent 'gainst yon line and in the play Of more than that. Before we thought it hot, For men dropped one a second, now 't was Hell, Hard mile of it, straight on. First 't was the guns That did the work, and yet we saw it shrink; Now with the musketry it crinkled up Like paper in the fire. But it went on True shot to aim, - a tenth of those who roared As they ran by us hit, the rest lay there In that wide swath,-and yet it broke right through. We saw the gap wide open, then it shut; A bit of racket past it, and 't was still As if there 'd been no battle. Half an hour We waited like the dead: knew mighty well It was the end of it -the end of all That made life worth the living. - Soon there came An aide to call us back ; 't was but two miles, But 't was the hardest march that I have done Or shall do in this world." While we rode on, I saw him wipe his one eye on his sleeve. JIM'S PARDNER'S TALES For long time he was still, searching the trail And what lay 'twixt us and the next divide. Then in another voice that told the man Had organ stops in him: "I '11 tell you now A story that ain't much and 's hard to tell: We Texans were the vanguard in the march For the South Mountain fight in Maryland You'd call it Antietam, or some such name. Wre were hard looking as we'd come from Hell. Boys often wondered how it was that we Most pretty decent fellows, true to friends, To sweethearts, and to wives, who 'd slit the throat Of any right mean cuss -looked Satan's own. Some reckoned 't was the way we cut our hair, Or rather did n't, for there warn't no shears In all our troop; I give it up, it seemed The Lord had made us so. And we went on With heads hung down, as if each felt the rope Ready for hanging, till we saw behind There rode right nigh to us our General Lee. We all together shouted he should go And ride then in our front, to show them all We warn't the lot we looked; so there he went, And then the women and the children came Out to the road, laughed, waved hands, brought us flowers. They now were glad to see us - not a one Knew who he was. They saw he was a man Such as the Lord sends when He has a job For men to do. The queerest thing of all, 93 JIM'S PARDNER'S TALES He was n't there ten minutes 'fore I saw Something was happening to us: we were changed; We warn't the same lot. When he rode away, We did n't scare the women folks no more. That set me thinkin' hard - I ain't done yet, Though it 's a while ago - of what it meant. I see now it was Christ who rode with us, Once more a man that we called ' Marse Lee.' You 've seen him " "Who do you mean" Marse Lee." Yes, as a boy, as boy sees such a man, Far off and shy." "So I did then, and knew I 'd waited all my life to see a man Built clean from heels to head, six feet of him; And in his face a look that went away Right through your soul and straight on to the sky. I saw him often after that; sometimes He was plain old Bob Lee, with not a bit That did that miracle. I saw him when At Gettysburg we came in bringing back Our hulking misery. You 've heard men cry, A thousand all at once" " I never did." "Then don't: it is the durn'dest thing on earth. At first it's mighty funny, then it goes Right through you like a knife; it tears your heart And shakes you in your shoes; but as we looked 94 JIM'S PARDNER'S TALES 95 On him, our ache died out, and this hard trail Seemed pretty well again. Our Old Jack had Something the same, but 't was so tangled up With his darned smartness that it did n't go Right home to you; and Jubal Early, too, That half-cracked cuss, when he was swearing mad, As generally he was, would bring his soul To snubbing-post and look off in that way; You would n't mind it 'less you 'd seen it shine On Marse Lee. You've watched your men come up Under hot fire. If your own soul is cinched, You '11 see between the 'close ups' here and there A chap who has it, and you know you'll will, For with him goes the Lord." Here came a pause On this strange preachment. Back was he to earth. He bored it with his eye as diamond drill Cuts to the hidden mysteries of stone, Volcanic, frozen; that had kept its black Against the bleaching sun as it would hold The night from whence it came. "Here mought be bucks: They used to make for it when they are out; There ain't no signs as yet. - Neighbour, you've heard The parsons tell how by and by our Christ, Who 's been on some far trail since He was here, Will swoop right down from sky. That ain't the truth, He's kept a coming thousand times a day To find a shape that fits him; that He fits 96 JIM'S PARDNER'S TALES For the soul's need that wears it. And when He is n't in a man, He's here In what looks like a man until you find It 's not just that, but is a bigger thing Than ever man was. You have seen how they Have set Him up in pictures; make Him sad And sorry looking, -dyspeptic tenderfoot, Like lungers from the East. Mebbe He comes Sometimes like that, but when He comes to me, He's six feet high, built from the heels right up, With look that goes straight through me to the sky. He was that when He first came; that I know, For He licked all them traders with one hand, Whacking that black snake whip upon their backs When He cleaned out the temple. 'T warn't no job For lungers and the like. You know how He Rounded St. Peter to the snubbing-post And broke him to the service of the Lord. No cripple done that, but a great, whole man, That could have led an army right straight in And licked the Devil out. How does He look When He comes down to you" I had to say He did not come to me in such clear shape, But was too dim for seeing. "That 's right hard; How have you scuffed along without His help Next time you're in a fix, look up and see Him standing on nigh hill; at first He'll seem No bigger than you are; but look and look, And He will grow and grow until this world JIM'S PARDNER' s TALES Is nothing but His glory and poor you. Keep looking, and you'll find that you, too, are Only a part of Him, -and then this trail - Don't care how hard it is - seems for a while Right easy going. - Gee whiz! What is that" Now went the day-star's splendour from his eye, And in its place came glare of beast at bay. "It 's there, behind those rocks half mile away." But I don't see a thing," said I. " That's it," said he, "We don't see nothing, but there's something there As plain as yonder sun. Those magpies know That thar is something hid. They are sich fools They 'll make the same fuss for jack rabbit's dance As for a dozen Injuns. Mebbe coyotes Have downed an antelope, - mebbe this and that. We'll squat and wait awhile and see what comes No, we'll ride back a piece and cache our nags, Then slip one side and peek. Mebbe they'll think That we 've cut sticks, if so, they '11 soon show up." Just over the divide we found a place To hide our horses: bellywise crept back To where the sagebush and some stones gave chance To peek right cleverly. " They don't take bait, They know it is a trick. Well, trick for trick We '11 match 'em out. -See here, Pard, - I '11 call you Pardner, though I swore last week I 'd never have another till I 'd slit 97 JIM'S PARDNER'S TALES The last of Injun's throats, - we 're in for it. If they were coyotes, they 'd have had their fill And loped for the divide; like other scamps, A coyote thinks he's better if he's there Where now he is n't. Jack rabbits would light out In half an hour. Just there they killed my Jim- The best of all the pards I ever had A week ago. He got but two of 'em- A mighty poor receipt for such a chap. I can't half sleep of nights -no more can Jim Because he got so little in that game. I just was moseying back when we met up, For chance they 'd call again. I 've scouted round For hope of that. I know it like a book, A nice snug place to hide -good holes in rocks, A little spring, made for their deviltry. But they don't know there is a place just there, Four hundred yards away, behind those rocks, Where I can hide and clean out all those holes With a good rest for gun. Now listen close: You'll stay right here; by'm by I 'II slip around And start the fun; it is n't just the time; It needs an hour yet until the sun Will light up all those holes. I '11 shoot six times Before they will catch on and hustle out To hunt for cover, - that will count for six. There ain't more'n twenty there; the place won't hold Up to two dozen. When they skip, you'll have A fairish chance at them. If you can shoot 98 JIM'S PARDNER 'S TALES In old Kentucky's way, you will get some, Though wind and sun is bad. Mebbe they'll catch The wing of my old gun and find Jim's pard Has business with them. If so, they '11 hit trail, And hit it quick and hard. They ought ter go Straight for divide; their ponies must be there There ain't no place in sight where they are hid So they'll go square off. Take the buck in lead, For they'll most always stop to help him on - They ain't just coyotes there -that makes a bunch So you can shoot for sure. If they turn here, Light straight out for your crittur. If you camp Because he's tuckered out, get in by dark And out by twelve o'clock. They'll reckon that You 'II try it about four - fool white man's time That's cost a lot of scalps. Just one thing more: If they ride hard and scatter out, you take The nighest on the jump. If twice your size, You 'l lay him down, set both knees on his back, Pull up his head with scalplock, slit his throat. It does n't take ten seconds, for a buck Settles right down so soon he feels your hand; The rest will scare at it, for they don't mind So much the bullet, for that kind er seems Like the Lord sent it, but when it comes down To tussle and the knife, they find they face A better kind of man. Mebbe you 've seen A smart chap do the trick." " No, but I learned 99 JIM'S PARDNER'S TALES Just how to do it when I was a boy. An old man Harris showed me all the moves Dozens of times. He was all clapper clawed By just such fighting -kept a hardware shop, Himself the hardest of the wares he kept." " Yes, you Kentucks found out that trick and learned Us Texans how. It has helped mightily A lot of chaps in close call." All the time While he was schooling me in this new trade Or rather shape of old trade-I watched how His eye went like a searchlight o'er the scene, And where it lit the landscape seemed to turn To a strange clearness. "'Bout time for a move, The sun is nigh to right. When I get there You'll hear the whacks -you'll know mine from the rest, For they ring kind er like a bell. You'll find That I shoot mighty slow. I never waste No cartridges, for they git on your mind Next time you need 'em. I will send six shots In half a minute. If I stop, you git!" "No, I '11 go to you. " " The hell you will! You won't, for I'm not going fer to have You on my mind. There'll be enough to do Without your fooling round." That was peremptory, But " he bossed this here outfit," as he said, So I held still. " Now you just keep your head 100 JIM'S PARDNER'S TALES In easy cinch; it 's coming out all right, I 'gin to feel that He is somewhere nigh, Thinking I 'm in a fix." He slipped away So in a flash I did not know him gone, Until I saw what seemed a tiger creep Nigh hidden on bare earth, - man-slaying beast Sprung from the desert sands; he seemed to cast No shadow in the sun -impalpable, Half smudged out in the waste, he fitted in As brutes to wilderness. Swift he crept on Until upon a little mount he sprang Upon his feet and was again a man; Threw up his arms as Arab when he sees Against the sky his Mahdi. As he stood, I looked with him; saw past him on the hill A mighty Presence; saw it with my soul And eyes obedient. Steadfast as a stone He stood there for a minute, then he dropped, Back to the tiger's shape -slipped straightway on Out of my sight. As it comes back to me This dreamy afternoon, I long to go Unto that wilderness and set a stone Telling, " Here dwelt a man who knew his Lord Stood on this hill, and dared to lift his eyes." But that would lie, "lie like an epitaph," Of him who was all truth. The other side Would have to tell what was on other side I O 102 JIM'S PARDNER'S TALES Of that complexity: " There dwelt in this man's heart The ancient slaying beast that shames our kind." So I shall leave him to those time-worn hills And to this tale half told. The rest may be As all shall be-God's silence to the end. THE FORGOTTEN OUTPOST HERE is a trifle of a tale that tells Part of the story of an ancient war That lacks the telling in our histories. They're mountains and wide seas in weary bulk Of marches, battles, sieges, and debates, With scanty showing of the hearts of men Who shaped our covenants, set hosts in arms, And sealed the winnings with their willing blood. For such uncharted infinites we turn To stories nigh forgot, that set those men Living before us, in their moments' deeds That sum unto their kind, and show its aims. Those snapshots give the chap, and not the pose That leaves him out and sets a manikin Where we needs have the man. Yea, this bit tells How came that wonder at the warfare's end, In the strange peace that broke upon the land As day from night, swift as a tropic dawn After a hurricane. One of a host Such as all soldiers of that time know well, Showing that we were warring not in heart, But through some strange compulsion that hurls on A folk in storm-swept sea. The scene is where The Southern army, that had swept its way 104 THE FORGOTTEN OUTPOST To the Ohio, now was forced to turn, Foiled of its quest, in sullen rearward march. Such times are tedious, for the opposing hosts, Stretched in long columns, touch at front and rear, And day by day have but to trudge right on. What little there's to do is with the troops Of fore and rear guards, and the flankers sent To guard 'gainst ambuscades and swift forays. It is but drowsy business at the best; The duller on this day, for all knew well There'd be but trudging till the armies came Centred for work, a hundred miles away, When Buell's force and Bragg's at length would meet On some wide field, now slumbering in the peace That autumn brings when harvest-time is done, For the hard battle. Close up to our front Rode the commander, tended by his staff; With them a captain native to the land, Who knew its fields, its by-ways, and its woods As only boy may know them. As they marched, They came near to a farm that captain owned, Until the enemy had closed his hand In war's hard fist right title to the place. 'T was but five miles away, and scant an hour With well-spurred horse would take him there and back To the slow-moving column; give him time To see what Johnny 'd left of goods and ills On his estate - two months a prize of war. THE FORGOTTEN OUTPOST The doughty general, drowsing like the rest, Said, " Go, it's safe enough: there's nothing here But rear-guard messes; on that flank, it's clear For good ten miles ahead." So he is forth On well-known way: first eastward o'er a hill, Where looking back he sees the serpent war Creep onward to the south, - a broken snake,- Front end the foe, the rear part his good friends; 'Twixt them a space flecked with the battling guards. The one should be of grey, the other blue, But both are common dun: for earth and sky Are wrapped in dust -fit uniform for war. From open hill his way turns through a wood, Where sixty fathoms deep the ancient peace Of the primeval rests upon the earth As sea upon its floor. Here he would stay And have refreshment, as the famished drinks From the eternal font; but he must on Upon his errand. Yea, though it was good To know this peace, there was in it a fear That strangely smote him in his inner soul Right through the armour of the soldier's life That so well fends him from the noble deeps. Beyond the wood the way turns to the south In open country. Swifter there he rides, To win the time he'd lost within that fane Where haste seemed profanation. 'T is a mile And he will win his end. But what is there I O5 THE FORGOTTEN OUTPOST Upon yon hill a hundred yards away A party of our flankers faring south N.o, these are bivouacked: and the fire tells That they have cooked their breakfast, and are now Ready for - Boot and saddle." They are foes: Forgotten outpost; left within our lines. At such times men think quickly, and the youth Has wit enough to see his peril through. Before his plight was clear, he 's galloped on Until he has to face it. If he turns, His fate is certain, for they are a score Of steady carbineers. So on he goes At a hard gallop straightway through the troop, Reckoning the uniform of dust will hide What else would tell he is a Federal; Calling as he goes onward to the men That they have missed their orders and should back To 'scape sure capture. All is done so swift That those good soldiers are a moment 'mazed. Some grip their carbines: some give him salute: All wait for orders from their officer, Through good mischance not by. So there is time For twenty jumps before the shout of " Halt!" To which the farer gives no heed, but goes Unhastening on his way. Another break Most happy for the wight: the bugle calls To saddle, so the men forget to fire While aim is certain. Twenty seconds go Before the troop is horsed and shaped to charge. io6 THE FORGOTTEN OUTPOST Meanwhile the easy gallop bears him on So that a hundred yards of space is won. Then blunder number three. There still is time For their good carbines to drop horse and man, But bugle sends them on before they fire, While they with troubled oaths thus blunder round For half a minute - share of eternity When it sends space between you and the guns That seek your life. His wits are mighty keen- As those of hunted brute. He is all ears: The stir of camp, the creak of saddle-gear, The shuffling feet, and then the forward leap Of front rank tells him what he dares not see; For turn of head will stamp him as a foe And end their doubting. At the forward plunge Of hoofs on earth he bends him low and spurs With rowels deep, and now with look behind Searching the situation for a plan. 'T is clear the foe are horsed on cattle worn By hard campaign, so that he draws away From all but their young leader. Though they fire As they surge on, it's wildly, so their shots, Though now and then they sing, leave him untouched: And, better, 'scape his horse. For man may hold His saddle when hard hit, but touch of lead Is sorest handicap to best of steeds. Five minutes' run and there's two hundred yards Of blessed room betwixt him and the field. The men now sling their carbines, and it comes I0O7 THE FORGOTTEN OUTPOST To case of fox and hounds - with odds on fox: Good ten to one unless he plays the fool Or stumbles in the run. So now he cares For horse and gear, sits back and tugs at girth. The buckle breaks -well-known perversity Of things inanimate, that tells the Fiend Has else than care of souls. The saddle now Is a new risk; he casts it off, and rides The fighter for its riddance. Thirty pounds Is good ten seconds in a hard-won mile; Full half a league, if you ride to the end Of whip and spur and shout until horse drops And you take to your legs.- The path now turns - The farm is long forgotten- to by-ways That northward lead and circle towards our lines, Where there is safety and maybap the chance To change this flight to chase. Still it is on: The thunder of the troopers and their shouts, With the swift patter of the nimble feet Half-furlong length in lead. Yea, it is fine, To ride for life: to be the hunted fox When you know well your ground. Your soul is up, Eyes keen, and muscles tense, and so you're set As man 'gainst universe: with skill and might To play the game out, 'hap in end to win, Because you are a man! 'T is worth an age Of drowse in ways of safety thus to feel This glorious loneliness beside the Lord 108 THE FORGOTTEN OUTPOST Of mortal peril. -Once more looking back He sees the foe, out-breathed, have halted there At foot of this long hill they could not breast, And so give up the hunt. Their leader rides Slowly toward him, dismounts, waves a rag That once was handkerchief, and so asks truce With right to parley. Now it is no more A case of fox and hounds, but fellow-man Who seeks his fellow's help. When he is near: " Good-morning, neighbour; we have had a race. You've give us a square beat." "You gave me chance." "Oh, we were all durned fools, and you were smart. You played your game. Say, neighbour, tell us fair- Are n't we-uns in a fix " " Come on a mile, And you 'II have better breakfast than you left." "No, no, be neighbourly and help us out; You see we're in a fix. We've had no word From our commander since he set us there. We're clean forgotten, or your scouts have caught The orderly. We don't know these here trails, And if we try 'em, Yanks will have us trapped, Sure as we live." They were no longer foes, But boys of one-and-twenty, of the stock That loves fair play in the hard give and take Of sorest war. So the fox turns now To help the hounds to safety. " Come with me log9 IIO THE FORGOTTEN OUTPOST Soon as I get my saddle, and I 'II lead To where you'll find the way." " I '11 send a man; He'll catch us on the road." -Now they ride on, Chaffing as merry friends about the chase, Out to the cross-roads. There the saddle's brought And swiftly mended by the willing men: Soon after cinched, he mounts and gives them clue Out of their peril. " Keep the main road west Until you strike the river: it's now dry. Ride up its bed for twelve miles, - then strike west And you will be by sundown in your lines.' The bugle sends them forward: handshake ends This moment's touch of friendship of those foes. Our captain stays and looks on as they ride Into the valley up the hill to top; There, turning in their saddles, they look too, And with their waved hats bid him farewell; Then vanish in the wood. Now he is back With the slow-marching column and reports To his commander; how he was the fox, And how the hunt was ended. " You did well To save your bones from Libby, or your hide From being riddled. Those chaps shoot right well. But we will nab them with a troop of horse Sent straight on to the river half the way That they will have to ride." "That won't be fair: THE FORGOTTEN OUTPOST III We had a flag of truce, and they have gone, As was agreed, while it was up." " You 're right. I 'm not so sure it holds - and yet you 're right: We must n't risk a chance of being wrong By fooling with that flag." THE GREAT RAID You think that slaughtered men on battled fields Make the main part of war. You blunder there, For the good half of it is in men's wits, In the swift thinking and the steadfast aims When soul of man shapes to the rugged earth And 'gainst stout neighbours' is that airy might We know as victory for this or that Of far-enduring purpose and command. Rent fields and limbs are but war's crying shames; Opprobrium of the masters who would shape This world to serve their kind. They hate the mess That steel and powder make, when stubborn minds Miss point of argument and like mad bulls Go head down to the charge. War ne'er will be The art Jomini fancied till men are Informed by logic; so they never fail To catch the syllogism as it flies And play the kriegspiel as philosophers, With check and counter, and good umpires set To judge when there be doubt, or players hot, Who wins the noble game. Yet now and then In our rude ventures in this infant art, These barn-door dunlings of the men who wait For artist's shaping, we may dimly see The fashion of the finish; when this trade THE GREAT RAID Is purged at last of its iniquity. The tale that's now to tell has touch of this Fair game of war play: for it knows no field With mounds of hearsed bones or monuments To show that here held so and so and here Another heaped his slain. Yet 't was a game Played to a finish like a bout at chess. What came of hard knocks was mere accident: 'Hap twenty score of hurts ; some scattered graves Where quavering women laid their trust in God; And lop-limbed fellows who had ample pay In pensions and the right to spin their yarns By cosy firesides: scarce more mischance Than comes from mimic fights in Germany, When its great war-lord sets his hosts afield To trample down the corn and show the world What might be in his hand for devil's work- Sad happenings, but small price for the game. 'T was in our Lord's good year of sixty-three: Or was it Satan's - when this goodly earth Was sown with dragon's teeth instead of grain: When from the Atlantic out to western verge Of field that knew the plough sprang up armed men In hosts no land had known in all the age Since that last beast came to the wilderness, Changing its peace to never ending war. Two years of combat had shaped well their ranks From clumsy might into the nimbleness I I 3 THE GREAT RAID Of acrobats who swing them in the air. It was the time when Gettysburg drew near, When in the west the watching hosts were set By Chattanooga's hills, and all the earth From the Ohio to the Tennessee, Long trampled by the foemen, lay a waste; When crippled men and women strove to win Scant chance of life amid its ruined homes,- Sole mark of nearby war, save for the toil Of mill and factory wherein we shaped The myriad needs of those on-toiling hosts, From monitors to batter Vicksburg down To surgeon's tools for mending battered men, Biscuits and bridges, shoes and shells and guns, By train and shipload ever to the lines - A nation's substance for the maw of war. The demon must be fed, for if it starve But for a day, it helpless sinks and dies. Such is the so-called base of all the might By which we strove to rend the South apart With the stout wedge that opened Sherman's way Unto the sea and brought us victory - Yea, better, brought us peace. It is a town, This Cincinnati, on the northern shore Of the great river which had formed the moat Impassable to all the Southern hosts. Scant year ago, a hundred thousand men Had swung into its verge and halted there Before a land in arms. So it seemed safe II4 THE GREAT RAID I I5 To find this treasure house, with ten-score miles Between it and the semblance of a force, Unguarded and alone. All of our foes Were swept from sight or in the clutch of lines That held them fast and safely. So they toiled, Those helpers of our soldiers, in their shops As their far brothers on the Tennessee, In the great centred purpose, with no fear Of danger leaping on them. Yet it hung As unseen sword in air, for in that wild, That brooding desolation of long war, There was a marvel in the ancient art Of smiting swift with stroke that found its end: The dauntless Morgan, chief of partisans, Who played on earth with thunderbolts of sky. The rumours had it he with broken force Was nursing sore hurts in the Georgian hills, And mending his lean ranks. Our searching scouts In long months' forays found no trace of him, And judged his part was done. - Thus till a morn With an odd happening: the packet-boats That plied the Ohio in their daily round, Each parting from its post at 'customed time, Vanished as clouds in air. We nothing knew Save that they 'd met strange end. Then, in an hour, The telegraph was still, and so we guessed As soldiers must - right surely what it meant: That Morgan was upon us. He had come With such sure swiftness that he 'd balked our scouts, I i6 THE GREAT RAID Captured the packets, ferried o'er the stream, And now was ready to strike to his goal, I n capture of our base. Another hour In came the messages that men had borne Hard riding to the stations on the north, Showing we'd read it right; that he was there, Five thousand strong, with twelve guns, men still fresh, But horses jaded. So he must remount With captures from the farmers. Thus we'd have Two davs, 'hap three, before he on us came. To bar this veteran host we had of force But shreds and fag-ends, recruits for the front, Headquarters guards, and men from hospitals- In all, the half of his well-knit array. Then was a scurry up and down the place To shape a plan and have it swift afoot. Never before were deeds so done to prove What might lies sleeping in a nation's heart That holds high purposes. Swift forth there came From every farm-house men who in good toil Had found their way to war. They went straight on, Each as he willed, to hamper or to smite This foe dropped from the sky. The cross-roads knew Once more the stubborn throngs with rustic arms, Wherewith our folk have smote the ages on Whoever might assail, with force that breaks Like cloud before the wind of veterans' stroke, But vexes, wearies, shears their strength away, And balks their best-laid plans. They felled the trees THE GREAT RAID To block the ways, or broke the bridges down, So that his guns and wagons need creep on For time at snail's pace; made him often pause Upon his way to glean afar with arms What he had hoped to pluck in marching on. Within the town the leader of our men, Stout Burnside, met the need with veteran skill. Swift with his messages he gathered in A force to chase the foe. Up river came A fleet of gunboats, little flimsy things Beside the monsters of the deep that send Volcanic might afar, but serving well To sweep the shores and forests and stay troops That tried a crossing. 'T was a well-set plan To keep the raiders ever so beset They might not win recruits from malcontents Or from the South, and have no chance to turn Their veteran host 'gainst home guards, and so gain The conquerors' place upon the Northern soil. For there was still a slumb'ring, treacherous brood In all the border land that would awake If 'hap a battle's won. A year ago He tried like venture at Augusta's ford, To be swept back by Bradford's lusty crew. There was yet mighty danger that the blast From victors' trumpets would blow us a flame To scorch us from our hold. About the town Gathered the few fit for the searching task I I 7 THE GREAT RAID Of the trained soldier -scant two thousand men, Who could be trusted to hold long and give The brave pursuit a chance to smite the foe Hard blow on rear, so that he would not dare To try the final venture of assault, But must hie on for safety in his raid That might range far, but sure would fret away His strength to ruin. There was no mustering Of raw men in those ranks a charge swift turns Into a rout: the leader trusted well Unto the well-trained few to strike and stand; To follow up the host if it won on Into the town, and smite them as they went About their ravaging. So all was planned In the good soldier's way. The second morn, Hard-riding scouts gave warning that the foe, Swiftly new horsed, had brushed aside the throngs Cumbering his passage and pressed boldly on. Our spies told of dissensions in their plans, 'Hap 't was but ruse to put us off our guard. At times the rumours of their camp told how Thev 'd try assault. Again they 'd seek the chance For crossing of their main force at the ford A league below the town, sending a troop To feint upon our line. Once past the stream, They 'd win the rear of our forts on the south And turn their guns against us. Straightway then Half of our slender force was hot afoot I I 8 THE GREAT RAID To bar that crossing from the northern shore. Three leagues of forced march in a July morn Brought trusty regiment and eight good guns Upon the river's brink, before the place Where the Ohio broke in eddying whirls The " riffle " where a well-horsed veteran force Might dare a crossing: perilous, yet sure Save for the luckless, if no enemy Waited to smite them; Stygian ford if tried 'Gainst well-aimed shot. Straightway the scouts Breasted the flood and flung themselves afar Through woods and fields, to win touch with the foe And judge his purpose, while the waiting line Made ready for their task. Keen axes rang, Felling the ancient trees beside the stream, Those warders of the land against the flood That hurls upon it from the far-off hills, Making of boughs a tangle where the foes Who won them through the wave would dance the while Our rifles played on them. Such is swift work When half a thousand share it. In a trice What was the possible for daring men Changed to a hopeless venture none would try Who had trained war sense. Soon hard-ridden scouts Come one by one with news a slender force - May hap a squadron -strikes straight for the ford; Ev'n now their skirmishers peer through the wood To change long shots with us. Then other scouts Who 'd circled round that troop made it full sure I I 9 THE GREAT RAID We faced a front where half a hundred foes Held purposeless our thousand, while the host Went straightway for the city on a march Six hours sure would cover. It was dark Before this stood out clear, and back we went To hunt our enemy and bar his way Unto the citv, trusting few to hold Where we had stood. -Night marching's mighty hard, Even to freshest men, but when you 've striven From dawn to win a field and set a fight, And then at eve must forth to seek another, The Lord knows where, all sorts save Japanese Begin to kick at pricks. So on we went, Stumbling and swearing, yet with willing souls The better fit for duty for their plaint. The knapsacks weighed us down, our feet were sore, The ill-horsed cannon called for helping hands At everv ditch and hill. One ponderous gun, A piece for parapet and not for field, A thirty-pounder Parrot, fit to smite A league awav, dubbed " Teaser " by the men, 'Was endless trial to their hearts and thews. A dozen ill-trained horses balked the task And left us anchored to the way, until With prolongs linked together on it goes, A hundred men before it, with a cheer And tug that swings that Juggernaut straight on. Soon ferried o'er the river we are forth To seek our place, well-guided by the news 1 20 THE GREAT RAID I21 Of the foe's march that our swift riders brought. Right through the throng-packed city, streets where folk, Brooding their peril, welcomed with a roar The sight of ready arms, our column went, Heartened by greeting, helped by food and drink, But most by that glad cry of those who hailed Our sheltering might as safety. Ye who 've seen Mothers who clutched their babes to breast in fear Of the on-coming foe know ill of war Worse than the red field sends, for there are men With man's heart for the trial. On we go From miles of town to other miles of fields. 'T is midnight now, and up the waning moon Rides in far silence that mocks stir of war On this bewildered earth. So it has looked The ages down upon a myriad ways, When men have worn their hearts out in the march To smite or save, -as it would tell to Heaven: "This warring is the moment; all that stavs Is God's enduring peace. Now we are come To the appointed place, where from a hill Broad, gently sloping, deep, the road sinks down Into a noble vale. On either side Are villas set in gardens, on the left A mansion with a lawn that stretches far A glacis for the guns. 'T is a fair place, Where man has gathered in his trust to dwell With friendly earth and sky. Yea, but the night 122 THE GREAT RAID Hath villain Satan in it, and he comes For service with our host. Swiftly the line Deploys upon this pleasaunce to its place, Lit by the battle lanterns. Swift the men Hew down the shrubbery to clear the field And heap the tangled ruin on our front. The guns are set and trained upon the road. Ere line is shaped, the leader of our force Is forth with men for outposts and a plan To daunt the on-coming foe. Near half his troops He sets as pickets, grand guards and patrols, A fringe to fit ten thousand ranged in line. He knows the doughty Morgan from old days As poker player, who judged craftily, With no rash ventures in his wary game, Seeking for certainties. There was the chance That when he tried these outposts he would halt For day to shape the danger, giving time For our swift chasing force to come in touch And hurl his rear guard in. Then in that coil He'd seek the moment's safety and hie on, Leaving our line untried, else force assault. The end is certain, for 'gainst five to one, Mayhap in hour's fight the game is up, In open field, for swift they wrap you in. Good men will hold for long if foes but strike Straight at their front, but 'neath a centring fire From face and flanks and rear, their hearts go down, And in the huddle up goes flag of truce. THE GREAT RAID 1 23 The ruse will work if Basil Duke's not there- That Rupert who rides hard and never turns Save 'gainst a fortress wall. Some spies brought in The word that he was there, while others told He had been wounded in the northward march And left behind. So 't was a turn of card Whether the bluff would soon be called or not. Back from his outposts and hard ride away Beyond their front to judge how near the foe, Once more the leader sits to shape his plan. First he must care lest spies creep to his line, Finding its nakedness. 'T is now the time The farmers troop along their way to town With wagons laden for the market-place. They 're herded in a barnyard as they come- Set round with guards who bid them hold their peace. 'T is the rude way of war. There 's one more task Before the finish: on the left there stands The mansion built of stone, whereof the lawn And garden-place are trodden by our men; 'Sconced by the windows and by loopholes pierced Through its stout masonry, we'd hold out long, Finding the road and cleaning out the guns If they were swept by charge. For all the din Of singing host and toil to clear the ground The household slept in peace; they nothing dreamed Of coming war. Here, far from haunts of men, They knew not of this rage that leapt on them. Now at the porch the leader knocks and shouts, 124 THE GREAT RAID Till from the window frightened women peer. At sight of battle-line beside their door They 're crazed with fright. 'T would trouble your sound wits To find a thousand devils where you're wont To know fair birds and blossoms, when you look Over your lawn and garden as you send Good-morning to the sun. -When it is clear No man is in the house, or even lad To do a man's part in the parleying, The leader sends for detail -steady men, Householders, fathers, for the ugly work Of mastering these helpless. In they go With swift plied axes, seize the frantic folk, Clothe them as best they may, heap what they find Of precious stuff in bundles, pack them with the lot Out to the ambulances and away For safety in the rear. Meanwhile, a throng, Working like demons, turn the home to hold. He who hath known of war hath memories Of sorry deeds that startle him in nights, And make him creep back to this blessed day With wonder what he was when they were done At bidding of hard duty. But the worst - The Devil's worst-are not those done on men, But on the helpless, on the Lord's forlorn, Thus smote with iron hand. Yea, he was right, The master Sherman, when he said of war That it was Hell. THE GREAT RAID Now may the weary men Lie by their arms and clutch, ere coming dawn, At good forgetfulness of day that's past And day to come. Most sleep so soon they fall, But here and there the tireless, those that go Through long campaign unshaken, unfatigued, As if the earth had shaped them for hard war, Gossip with neighbours, droning on and on Of what 's in hearts: and as their leader goes Watching amid his men to judge their shape And fitness for the task there is to do, If Duke be with the foe when morning comes, He hears that high note 'mid the ribald talk, Of home and commonwealth and help of men, That sent those warring hosts on way to death That they might spare them shame. -And as he heard, There came to him the splendour of his folk As dawn lights in the sky. That majesty Shaped by the ages cribbed in mortal frames To sight most common, yet to eye that sees By chance the deep, the garners of the faith Of hundred generations that have striven To lift their kind. There be times when the sun Of the eternal day breaks through the night That men call high noon, to illumine life That we its glory know. So to that youth Of two-and-twenty years strange chance had sent To be the leader here; this grace was given To see his fellows there laid on the sod I2 5 THE GREAT RAID As the Lord made them, keepers of his faith - His servant kings to rule the wondrous realms Won from the night- and on for two-score years That vision bides. The dawn is in the sky, The stars go out - down shuts the veil of day To 'fend men from the spaces; so they do Their little deeds unrecking of the deeps. The scouts bring word the foe comes swiftly on, His front three miles away and marching straight Upon our outposts. There the leader speeds To judge their dispositions and to see What is to do. First is to brace his heart As 'gainst the sky-line, half a league away, Behold the war front lifts as wave in sea With might to 'whelm him in its drowning surge. Five thousand foot is myriads to the man Who has to face them; horsed, they 're moving earth As if the woods and fields were turned to foes To have straight at his life. Then warily To judge their purpose. At a glance 't is clear Their march is troubled: they have not the front Set for the stroke, but columns well apart On separate ways. 'T will take an hour's time To shape them for the rush. An hour more For outpost work and scouting. If they dare Straight on, the job is easy, for our guns Have clean sweep down the road. They 're safe to break Ten thousand set in column. But the foe Iz26 THE GREAT RAID Halts at the touch of outposts, and his scouts Search out the ground for action. Like keen dogs That work a field for hunters, forth they hie Upon their errand, nosing well the earth, Counting the pickets, noting where grand guards Hold post at cross-roads, seeking what the force Is hid behind those brush&d lines where guns Gape hunger through the ports; catching the glint, Now here now there, of muskets in the sun. They sum the story to their chief, who sits, A brave mark for a shell, with field-glass up, Upon a noble horse. 'T is that the host That fronts him there may be full twice his own; Its line and outposts fit ten thousand men. They are well hid, as if they 'd lead him on And spring an ambuscade. The brave man sees Trouble before him. Knows the thing to do Is send reconnaissance straight at the line, Hurl back the outpost, draw the waiting fire, And find the gist of it; else turn the flank, And try it with a charge. It is his trade, Learned well in Mexico, where masters taught That war is action, swift, straightforward, true To war's intent in smiting; practised since On many a swift swept field. Yet now he halts Before the chance he's dreamed of for long years, The very heart of foe awaiting stroke That would bring victory to his loved cause. And yet he waits and reckons - Cxsar waits I127 THE. GREAT RAID Upon his Rubicon so long it needs To shout, " The die is cast," then on to Rome. Put valiant Pompey there, and he'll attend The shaking dice, auspices, and debates Until the runlet hath grown to a sea. Such is the difference 'twixt this and that, 'Twixt first and second in man's mighty game. The gambler wins who knows the cards and men And never halts the play. Yea, while he waits To judge the situation, up there comes A dust-cloud in the west and spattering Of distant muskets, first drops from the storm That hurls upon him; vet there still is time For the true first class. -Set it on the die And call it cast' Let one battalion hold For rear-guard work, then six to swing right on To the appointed place and make the end. If checked in front, his foe 's but infantry That creeps while horse may fly. The sun 's just up, And 'fore it sets there's time to put the torch To all that stavs their army. Flame flies fast With brave men's breath to blow it. Yet in vain Th' horizon mav recede until it shows Rome at the grasp of hand, and still it needs The Cxesar's soul to clutch it. So this man, Master of valiant deeds, halts 'fore the task Set for the soldier who hath in him might To shape far destinies. Now breaks that host I128 THE GREAT RAID9 In column marching east, and we have won Without a shot. It is a wondrous sight To see a mounted legion march away As in review before you: most so when You 've turned them to your purpose and they go Straight on the way you bade them. Yea, 't is done, And in the commonplace that wraps war's deeds As other doing, there's no more to it: The question is of breakfast. Haversacks Are empty as are bellies, so they turn Swift to the farmers' wagons that are caged In nearby barnyard. 'T is a sorry crew; They thought us Morgan's men, and all the night Clamoured their treason, told how they were kin To Rebels in his host and would be there So soon they might. Their punishment is swift, For in a trice there 's market for their wares At every camp-fire, and their wagons go As empty as their pockets back to home. Now comes the after farce of this neat play This comedy of arms, mere mimic war, As those will judge it who look but for fields Heaped with the dead, and see not 't is a game Where wits are matched to win a bit of earth, The better if 't is clean. It needs be told, For from the telling you'll see how the tasks Of strenuous men are done lightheartedly, And not with knitted brows and burthened souls. While bugles are a-singing breakfast call, I129 THE GREAT RAID Our leader wonders where he'll find his chance; The others' share was scanty, and his own Had vanished with his man, a tricky black, Who mixed his foraging with work of spy, And like enough is hanged. Now comes the word That in our rear, a scant two miles away, A true friend who had held his house alone (Good Master Greenwood of another tale) His people forth for safety - bade him there To share a breakfast. Ah, there was the chance,- Temptation from the Lord, -for in the man Was that wild hunger of the wight who's come From near the gate where " army fever" sends Great hosts for welcome. Oh, but there's the foe Still marching by our front! The column's head In east past sight, and rear guard in the west As yet invisible. Mayhap he'll turn And try a venture. Nay, for there's the dust Of the pursuit that 's on them, pillar like From earth to sky. There's now no time for halt. So wits and hunger argue, and the greed, As is the way, won out. And he is forth With two good orderlies to make him sure Of swift news, if there 's need. The one he posts On hill in sight of line, the other sets Horsed by a window where is laid the feast That waits good welcome. If there comes alarm, Swift steed will have him there in fitting time Ten minutes at the most. He on the hill 130 THE GREAT RAID To catch the signal and wig-wag it on, He by the window to stay on the watch With eyes bent on his mate. - Now for the feast Ham, coffee, eggs, da capo, silently, With pauses brief to hand the sentry out Fair share of it, with warning to look sharp For chance of signal. Luculluses have striven For time and world about to set fair boards, But never yet have had a chance to feed A famished guest as there. The hapless lot Of Svbarites who 've never known the cry Of every starving fibre of their frames Know not what hunger means. It needs a wight Who 's fed from saddle-pocket for two days, While all of mind and body toiled their best, And who at end hath won, to know how good Is gift of daily bread. The breakfast done, The host, well skilled in things mechanical A maker of great engines, with a taste For curious toys, would show some he 'd received Straightway from Paris. Odd dolls- you mind the springs, They strut and dance and quaver words of French. The table pushed aside, the bare floor served For boulevard whereon these manikins Acted their comedy to split your sides. On all fours with them host and guest forgot, The Lord knows how long, that the tide of war Rolled scarce a league away. Till from the horse I 3 I THE GREAT RAID Of sentry came a whinny: looking up, They see the loon-faced idiot who'd been charged Upon his life to watch the signal man, With jaw-dropped wonder looking at the play. Three leaps, and our scared leader's on his steed, Spurring his best straightway across the fields, To save a furlong length, cursing the fool That harboured in his hide. But when he comes Upon the line, all is as when he left; A dust-wrapped throng of horse that streams straight on Steadfast as caravan unto far wells, WTith never turn aside, and in the west Another dust cloud marching in the sky Where the pursuit strove on. There as he drew Full breath of peace, there entered unto him A vagrant colonel, sample of the kind Who infect fields of action. Peace and war Alike know much of them. This fellow had A troop of horse behind him, two-score men, All raw recruits: caught on the way to front And tumbled to our line for chance of use. Seeing the foe, he to our leader shouts: "Why don't you fire on them" " If we did that, We might hit sundry men." " Why are you here" "We 're here to send those people on the way They're pleased to go. While they move right on As fits the purpose, 't is no time to smite I 32 THE GREAT RAID For the mere slaying. You should know full well The master Jomini bids soldier 'ware Of giving battle when he is not sure That what he 'II win is better than the gain Withholding will afford." " Who's that fool Who tells you not to hit with such a chance " This Jomini, my dear sir, shared campaigns With Bonaparte and left to us the gist Of war's good lessons, taught us how to play The game and not the fool." Now comes the end Of the great march in rear guard falling back With many a halt and turn to smite the chase That goes hard at them. Numbers like his own Are gathering swift on Morgan, for in sky To north and west and east the dust clouds march, Telling the hosts that come. Then by our front Rolls in the vanguard of the hot pursuit, A troop of veteran riders, dirty, worn To that hard semblance of a fellow man More like to fellow brute. Their part's to keep The foe upon the march so swift he may Have time for no forays. Close after them The solid column, sweeping steadfast on, Watching the chance to force the foe to give Battle for safety. On the flanks here ride The trustiest men to search 'gainst ambuscades And sweep his flankers back upon his line. I 3 3 THE GREAT RAID The hunt's well ordered, and the run to earth, Though long, is certain- sure as ever chance When dice are shaken in the game of war. Far in the valley where the river flows, We hear the cannon as the gunboats send Warning to scouts who seek to find a ford, There is no thoroughfare. So it is done, The city's safe, and all there is to reap Is but the aftermath -the sorry end Of a great venture that was shaped to change Map of the world, had valour been all man Needs for fulfilment. -Swift the dust and roar Of that vast flight and chase go past the sky To be with yesterdays, and those days heap Until they mount into a score of years. Good years, for earth 's forgot the tramp of hosts, And sometime foes are friends in its fair work. Now and again he who has told this tale Has wondered how it came that Morgan missed His leap to Rubicon: until one night He found in crowded hostel Basil Duke. They lodged together; talked until 't was time To snuff the candle out, of nearby things, And turned them to good sleep. Then as the veil That curtains off the deep rolled up and left The far-off vista clear, he who once had That task of arms here told called out to Duke, "WVTere you with Morgan on the Ohio raid, 134 THE GREAT RAID I 35 When he rode by our base he could have had For little more than asking" "' Hang it, man, Why wake a chap to ask him such fool thing" Because I 've often wondered what it meant That chance was lost." " No, I was hit before He crossed the river, and was left behind." So that's the reason that I was not licked!" Sleepily, " I reckon that it was." AUGUSTA 'TWAS in that year of thunder, - sixty-two, When surging through the mountains on there came A hundred thousand foemen past the lines That fenced the North from ravage. All our might From the great river east to Georgia's hills Was swallowed in the flood that on us poured. When we, the sorry gleaning of those hosts That vanished with brave Buell in the deep, Were backward swept until our remnant came Upon the Ohio's verge, there found a ditch Fresh dug as for our graves, with but one hope, To hold the foe from crossing. Once his feet Upon the northern shore, then all was done; For there sedition waited leaders fit To rank its hosts against us. Then the help Of those who in the West had heard our cry Would find another sea to overwhelm. Where all else was despair there shone the hope- Nigh hopeless in that night-to hold the line The river set for us ; for a hard drought, Parching the starved fields and the hearts of men To tinder for war's flame, had shrunk its tide Until there was a ford by which the foe, Keen-eyed and brave, could pass. Thereto we sent A fleet to 'fend a crossing -good stout boats, AU GUSTA I37 Well armed, and captained by men brave of speech Who bore our trust with them as forth they went, With mighty bluster, to the victory Fools set in visions ere they knew their foe. I well remember how we hearkened there, In the vast stillness of an autumn morn, The far-off tooting of the mighty guns Quick beat on beat, as if a giant's heart Was throbbing in hard battle. So we knew The foe was on us at Augusta's ford, And all our nation's hope was in the hearts We 'd trusted for defence - trusted in vain; For soon the roar of cannon died away, And down the river in mad flight there came The sorry remnant of our fleet, with tale That they 'd been overwhelmed by mighty hosts, And saw while fleeing how these swept right on And shaped their ranks upon the northern shore. So hope went out, yet in the ancient way Of our hard kind we with our neighbours quirked, Chewed our hard victual, scoffed at eirth and sky, While in our hearts we thought of fields where men Had found their way to rest, as Victory Lit their on-going flags. Yea, bitterness Soul-eating lay behind our shamming grins; For we saw now the end in Freedom dead, While we limp-handed stood beside her grave. 138 AUGUSTA Then in that darkness came a messenger, Came as Phidippides, spent, - yet with word The foe was staved upon the southern shore By a hard fight, with whom he knew not, for He saw it from afar; long heard the rage Of a fierce battle, as he rode away, Quaking the earth and sky. Soon came his mate, With a like story - how 'mid fired town There was a vast contending. Flame and smoke Hid all the rest, and none had broke their way Through that volcano. One more on his heels, Who saw the fires die out and 'mid the wreck Our banner lifted and the northern shore Of the great river untrod by the foe. Yea, it was dazing so from death to leap Back to the glorious day; to know as those Whose hearts broke on old fields, down from the sky The noble twain came with the might of gods, Turning despair to wondrous victory. Surely it came from sky, for all the earth Was lean as ever churchyard of the life To set such battle-line. All fit for war Were with their flags, or where their flags had stood. Yea, in that little place of miracle There sure were not five score in shape of men, Greybeards and lads who could lay cheek to gun. They check a veteran host, when our great fleet Fled 'fore the might that marched to certain end Nay, 't was impossible - the Lord was there, AU GUSTA 139 In some strange presence shaping to his will. So bowed as beaten men by mystery, Our ribald host was stilled until we knew The wondrous simple story: how a man, A certain Bradford, doctor in that town, Roused in the night by scout who told there came Nigh to a thousand picked from Morgan's men,- They who had smote us hard on many fields And ever to defeat, - had gathered in The gleanings of war's sickles, bound them firm In a great sheaf of valour with the tale Of what it meant if that host won its way Across Augusta's ford. That they stood there, As oft their sires of old, where men should die, Sparing the Lord all questions save the way To do their dying well. So they had held Beneath their burning roof-trees through that night Of hopeless battle, save for hope forlorn That with them to the dust they might bear down The leaders of their foe - laid on so hard The shattered victors would not dare the ford Unto the further shore. Yea, they had won, They dead and living, to that mighty deed And sent their conquerors backward in swift flight, Their captains maimed or dead and all the host Smote to the heart, as are the best of men Upon such fearful winning. When our force At eve came to that ruin where the morn AUGUSTA Augusta's village lay, -mere shambles now, Trodden by Satan's hoofs, -we found the folk, The white-faced women and the wounded men, The frightened children, little wondering souls, Still by their doctor led, fighting to hold The ebbing life in heart of friend or foe; To stay the fires by which their wounded burnt On war's brave altar. -'T was the ancient tale From the grim story of ten thousand years Of what is man, the image of his lord, Whose name is Satan though it be writ Mars, Jehovah, yea, or Christ, who's changed His cross For a two-edged sword. We saw not that, Nor aught of wondrous doing, save we 'd won And paid the winner's price. Had our hard laugh At that grim doctor with his double trade Of sword and salving; said in soldier's way They were a damned good lot who stood with him So for the veterans' prayer above the dead. Then forth we went to other slayings, where New-spilt blood blotted old, and faces white Of other women bowed o'er other dead. Ah, but this grim old world is commonplace, And never men begrimed with dust and mire And better worth forgetting than in war; And in a trice Augusta's dead were dead As those of ancient Rome, and on we went 140 To save the commonwealth by slaying all That makes it other than a common woe. On crept those years of horror to the grave Wherein we earthed our best, and those who 'scaped Crawled forth into the sun to mend their hides And wash their tattered souls in Lethe's stream, Glad of oblivion, good fate's best gift To those who linger 'mid the wounds of war. So on for forty years, until the sod Sunk in the empty graves, and the old lines, Where ramparts girt with cannon frowned o'er ditch To swallow hosts, were smoothed as is the sea When storm is by; here set with shadowy woods And there with quiet sheepfolds. Thus dear Earth Sets her fair ministers, the frost and rain, The eager roots that find good sap in death, Lifting her dust in other blossoming, To smooth away her scars. In two-score years all fades save memory Of noble deeds and men, and they shine out As stars when day is done: they bid our eyes Look up and wonder how they came to bide Forever in the vault, while we stay here With the great deep between us and the goal That they have surely won. So in the eve Of the vast night I trod again the way AUGUSTA 141 AUGUSTA That to Augusta led; to question there Of men and earth how that brave deed was done And how it was forgot; how that stern host, Shaped from the nothingness of common men, Had set a battle such as ne'er was waged On this tormented sphere: so swift and true To reckoned duty and the angel death, Where with their lives they sealed a nation's fate, Barring the path of ruin; and went on Into the silence stirred by no vain breath. The earth is still the earth of that far day, The hills drink in the river where the tide Bears on its sheav&d springs unto the sea. The village stays as then beside the stream, All is as was of old, save for a place, A place of mighty graves, where silent lies The dust that once knew duty, but now sleeps Forgetting and forgot. There o'er the stones Still seared by that wild flame the children troop On merry way to school. I asked a lad To tell me of that fight. But he knew well Of ancient famous doings far away At Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill, Of Gettysburg, and many a further field Over the seas and down far ways of war, Yet nothing of the glory 'neath his feet, For all it was his own; as rich as e'er This paupered earth can be with life of men, 14 2 Once valour, that is dust. So on I went, Questioning the folk in street and shop until I found the sorry remnant-five old men, All who had shared the doing of that day And lingered to our own: grim, silent men, Who turned them all unwilling from the sun To grope into the dark for memories Of deeds they would forget. The first of them A merry sinner-bade me go to Hell And ask the Devil of it. When he found The way to courtesy -for in his hulk Lurked ancient gentleman - he said to me: Stranger, that fight was forty years ago; 'T was a damned shindy and is well forgot. You see the graves up there on yonder hill; We buried it all there. Let's have our chat Of the next races, or of last year's crops, Or the election. Come, we'll have a drink And gab of better things." Thus one by one They turned their eyes away from that hard sight I bade them see again. Yet in the end, For sake of stranger, they looked back on it With grey, set faces and with half-closed eyes: Told me it all as I shall tell it you, So soon the stage is ranged for that brave play. A simple story of the deed that men Had done for duty, and had buried deep In the grave's silence, never changing word With one another of that wonder done. AUGUSTA I4 3 And when I asked the sinner why it was They 'd held these years to silence, low he said, You know damned well the reason." Yea, I knew How hearts thus hard and stern and seared by war Seal in the darkness bitter memories That day may keep its sunshine and the night Send blessed sleep to them. "And yet," I said, There's Colonel X., he often tells the tale, So it has grown for years and he in it, Till now he 's all the battle." Then they grinned, Each at the other, till the sinner spoke, Now shylv as ashamed: " Our Colonel X. Was hid awav at other end of town Until the fight was done. Now don't you tell The Lord made him for brag." Then bit by bit, Searched from forgetfulness, they brought to me All that was left in earth of memory, Mere shreds of tapestry, once fit to deck Valhalla's walls, now unto tatters gone. A task so simply done it shames the hand That would give artful setting to the tale, And bids the teller keep it to the key Of the old blacksmith's shop, where it was told By men whose hearts were true as ever knights To noble doing and forgetfulness Of valiant deeds long done. So I will patch The tatters of their story as I may; Chink up the empty places as we mend AUGUSTA I144 A Phidian marble with our best of clay, And bid our fancy make it once more whole. It is our sorry choice to let men die Unto forgetfulness, or keep them near As mummies swaddled in the winding-sheet We name our histories, or sugared round With song as bees in honey; yet they 're safe The far away. Their stateliness goes on Swift through the boundless spaces, or they bide Now here, now there, in stars that may not send Their glint across the deep. It harms them not That we shape dolls and name them with their names, And bid those puppets dance for our delight Above the weary clods that we tread here, Upon this earthball that was once a star, Now lit by borrowed light. Yea, we may do Our will with all those shadows, coin their dust To fill our empty purses, tread our stage Decked in their semblances, for they are far And reck not of our doing. AUrGUSTA 145 THE STORY 'T is a September night; 'neath harvest moon The fields are sleeping, burthened with the grain The reapers have forgot, for they lie far As soldiers in war-lines, or 'neath the sod Waiting God's call to arms. The way is still As sands of untrod desert, for the folk Have fled before the withering blast of war As 'fore volcano's breath; and this fair realm, Shaped by its Maker for the joy of man And home of His content, all empty lies As in the primal night. Yea, it is still As place of graves should be 'neath silent moon That sends it ghost of day. Now comes the beat Of horse-hoofs muffled by the dusty road, And there the rider creeping warily, Watching the dark as one who knows 't will shape The Satan he awaits. See, 't is a lad, A white-faced lad, who peers into the deep, Fearful but brave. And now he reins his horse Upon the crest of overlooking hill. There in the south, where shadowy earth and sky Meet in night's mystery, in sky and earth We hear with him the clamour of a host Swift coming on -the beat of iron hoofs, THE STORY The clank of cannon-wheels, the bugle's cry That sways a might swift onward. See, yon vale Is peopled with a throng lit by the glint Of fire beaten from the horses' feet ; And now it breasts the steep, and now its might Hurls like a lava tide with scorching breath On to the north away. This ancient world Knoweth its Lord in splendours; in His storms, His whirlwinds, and His rage of sea and land; But never mightier than in thunderbolts Sent thus in night from out the clouds of war. But nobler sight it knows in that lad's face, Fear-drawn but steadfast, as he counts that host Sweeping from dark to dark. Then on its front The score of keen-eyed watchers, horse and man Seeking for ambush, ready for the blows That rend the mask of peril. But a score Yet with the might to break the stoutest line And bear account of it. They chaff our lad, And laugh to hear him quaver in his fear; They reckon not with his accounting eyes, Nor with the hidden star that holds his soul Straight to its purpose in his world of fear. Next, half a furlong's space, swift surging on, Comes troop on troop, the centre of the foe, Hard-visaged centaurs, knit of man and horse For bitterest deeds of wvar; and then the guns, Leaping like leashed dogs as on they go. 147 I48 THE STORY And after them a space, and then the troop That 'fends pursuit and gives the centre time To turn and send its stroke. Would ye be nmen Who knew but sheltering roof-trees, 'fore ye die Hie ye as our brave lad into the night To scout a coming foe, and pray the Lord That He lend ye the valour of that bov To stay your quaking hearts till task is done. Quick as the rear-guard 's by, the lad's away O'er field and fence with half his tasl- well done And courage for what waits; on to the town, Where well he knows the host will need make halt And ready for their purpose - there to learn Whereon the stroke shall fall. Swift through the town The vanguard sweeps, in emptiness to find That danger lurks not there. Quick all the ways Are sentinelled, and the far-ranging scouts Explore the woods and vales. In comes the host, Puts off its war shape, is for while a throng Of merry men who lie about their fires Or mend old hurts and gear. With them our lad Is helping cheerily, when to him comes The grizzled vanguard's captain: "Hi!" he cries, Here is the boy we scared into the hedge. So now, my lad, you'll go along with us, You'll show us to the ford, and have a chance THE STORY 149 Of a fine frolic when we 're over there. Duke has a way with boys that makes them men; So in a jiffy he will handle you Into a soldier." Idle quirk and jeer Well conned soon tell our lad that they are forth Unto the north, to be a banner there For treason's hosts that wait but men to lead- A chosen band, each fit to captain men So that their might would hundred-fold in ranks To sunder east from west and set a wall From the Ohio's verge to Erie's shore. They hail their task as done, for well they know No force stays 'fore them, and they 'II ride so swift That they'll announce their coming with their guns, And have dismay for ally as they go Straight to their mighty purpose. Now our lad, His message in his heart, has but to hie So swift he may to give it. Forth he slips, Sending farewell with beat of horse's hoofs, As on he speeds to bear his warning home. The foemen guess his errand, bugles cry Swift warning to the sentries; but straight on He rides, as rides the dove that cleaves the air And cares not for its storms. Straight on, swift on, Unheeding challenge, 'scaping from their shot, For valour shakes the aim of dauntless men, Or makes them willing that the hero pass To his far destiny. On, on, straight on He leaps into the dark, but with the day Blazing in his young heart; for he hath won His battle with hard danger, for the spy Knows noose about his neck a chance may draw To choke his life out. Swiftly now the foe Sounds " Boot and saddle," shapes again his force, Half daunted by the deed that tells him men Are set athwart his path. Then forth they march As those who wait on danger, warily, With clutch of arms and heart for all that night Hath in it hid. Oh, it is fine to ride As rode our lad headlong adown the way On steed spurred hard by foeman's grazing shot, And with the night to hurl a score of miles As dust from his swift heels; to know you've won What men will count stout winning; know you '11 wake The shout, "To arms!" as you cry out, "They come !" So down the Augusta way our lad sweeps on With heart that beats to music of the leaps Of the brave steed that bears him. For he knows How well he wins the minutes from the foe To give his comrades chance to set their fight. Proved soldier, comrade, now, though forth he went Mere lad upon his errand yester eve, To win the end a lad alone could win. THE STORY I SO THE STORY I 5 I Who had the seed of man hid in the child, An hour's peril would to manhood spring. Afar the farmers hearkened to the cry His horse's hoofs sent, knowing it announced The coming of the foe; knowing as men Who generations on are bred in war The tocsin in those foot-beats; so they arm, Saddle their horses, and fling after him, Alone, yet with the sturdy company Of deeds that wait their doing. Now our youth Sees where the hills stoop to the noble vale, And far away its river rolling on The gold the moontide sends it. There he sees The darkened village, sees its lights awake As watchers hark his coming; reckon swift His message in his speed. Now 't is done, This first act of that tragedy plain men Set on their simple stage to tell us how Their roof-trees cradle valour and their toil Harvests brave duty from their well-tilled earth. Rein-drawn, his faithful steed sinks down. The might That bore him as a tempest -might of sires Who'd horsed the faith of Christ 'gainst Mussulmans Beneath the Hammer's flag -once more was forth In toil that dumb heart knew the master willed And that in it was duty; so they 've borne Their kinsmen to their glory, shared their deeds, To sleep with them upon immortal fields. Over his fallen horse the messenger Steps to the waiting Bradford, - leader there Because the Lord had set him for the task That should be done upon this bit of earth, - And tells his story in the words, " They come. How many and how near " " Eight hundred strong, Picked men from Morgan's force. They will be here Long afore sun-up." " What want they of us" "They 're for the ford; they care not for the town; They reckon on their fighting over there, And on a lot to help them." "Ah, my boy, We've one more man in you, and use for him. Go now to bed: you'll wake when it is time, For more man's doing. - Call our men to arms!" Ye who have heard the long roll whir the air As wings of angel Death, and seen men spring With clutch at arms and heart, -all else forgot Save the swift summons and the bidding stern Unto the place to die, -ye go with me Upon a hard-worn way of memory Trod deep by war. Your dull ears hear the drums, Your dim old eyes again as in this light Of sinking moon behold a tumult shape Swift to the ordered lines; and then the call Of name by name and the sharp answer, "Here!" THE STORY I152 THE STORY I5 3 That tells each man is true. So came our host, The motley host that swarmed before the house Whereto they came for justice; where they had Election frolics, heard their orators Set forth the citizen.- Look well at them Old grizzled men and white-faced stripling boys, With here and there a fellow who had lagged, For all the soldier in him, from the field Because his dull wit showed him not the way The Lord would have him go. - Mayhap six score, A " home guard " such as fighting men despise, Not worth the sniff of powder, touch of steel, 'T would take to scatter them. But look again- See in that ragged row the stuff of men Keen-eyed, set-faced, with that still waiting look Of our stern race's war-lines. By each stands The host that sent him here across the deep The generations span. They are not lone, But backed by spectres far off as the stars But with their might to sway. Ye who have scanned The firm-set ranks that watched a coming foe, Waiting the stroke as patient as the rock W\Vaits for the thundering sea, know how true hearts, Who never knew a fight save in their souls, Swift weld in battle's heat to wall of man, That sturdy ancient of all warring days Who serves the mastering will. There for a while THE STORY The grim physician, treading silently, Reckons the coming task and sees that all Is ready for it. Then for the words that stay Above the battle's thunder in the soul And hold it to true purpose. "s Hear, my men, This message from the Lord. He sends to us Nigh to a thousand chosen from the best, From Morgan's men who but a week ago Crushed thrice their force at Cvnthiana ford, Led by their greatest captain, Basil Duke: They come not for us; they but seek the way Across the river. 'We may let then. pass Unharmed unto their end, to see o'er there A host of skulking traitors join their flag And master all the land to Canada; See all our brothers who have battled on To 'fend our State from ravage hopeless fall Before this doubled treason. Let them there, And all this war is ended in a stroke. The nation 's dead, and we mav to our beds And sleep in peace until we find our graves Bv men who died to build it. What 's your wvill To hide you in your cellars -let them pass Or die on this dear ground for chance to save What makes it dear to us e " Then from the dark Quakes a faint-hearted " Let the gunboats fight, - They 're strong enough for it,-while we will go Across the river. There we '1I have a chance To shoot them, if they struggle to the shore; 154 THE STORY 155 Here we'll be trapped like rats." Again the man Set there as master: " Count not on those boats I 've seen their crews and captains; they will run So soon the fight begins. Yea, I would send The blustering lot to bottom if I could, And leave us here alone to take what comes. If we have mind to do it, here 's the place For faithful dying; here beside our homes On old Kentucky ground. See where we stand And reckon it as men. Shall we die here For chance to maul them so they will not dare To try the crossing, or shall we here live So long we may as cowards who've forgot All that our fathers gave us If we fight, We'll reckon that we fall. It's five to one, And they our brothers in all save their aim. Their leader Duke's a man, and he will drive Straight as the Devil to his end. See well What the beginning means, and leave the rest To God who sets us here." Still quavered out The plaint of him who longeth for dear life: Where is the need, 0 captain, that we die Here by our doors " Then from the ranks there spake The sturdy blacksmith, he who smites his way With the hot iron, forging metal good In shape for valiant use: "Yea, we '11 stand here, Here where the Lord hath set us for His work; We'll lay them on the anvil and smite hard. THE STORY Let those who've mind to skulk go o'er the ford, Or hide them in the woods, but we'll stay here And hammer out our job until we quench Our iron in the tub." Then for a while The ranks are silent in the way of men Who chew the cud of peril, harking back On life's dear ways and forward to the realms Made dear by hopes to come; then to the quest Of what their manhood bids them do where now Grim fate hath set upon them in the night That shadows war-lines. Ay, so true moen bow Their souls in silence 'fore hard destiny, Until He sendeth dawn to light the sky And lift their burthened hearts -answer to prayer That pleads for star in token of His will. Then as of old in many a waiting night Came prophet from the dark as prophets come, Robed in simplicity of common man, Who knelt him down, went bravely to the Lord With prayer He ever heeds. As they raise Their bowed heads from their prayer and look away, As is the wont of men when hearts are wide Because He dwells in them, far in the east Strides forth the splendour of the coming morn With dav's commandment to His servitors To gird them for His tasks. None cry, " Behold! The Lord is with us in the work to do! " THE STORY None knew in his dumb soul a might had come To stay beside him and to bear away His soul with earth's tasks done; yet now each one Draws closer to his neighbour, knows the light Of a new morning glows where the dark had lain Upon the way of faith. Then their leader spoke Last word of counsel: " Men, here is the day, And we are ready for it. We dare set No line to meet them, for they'd wrap us in. Go to your houses; ye'll the better fight Beside your hearthstones. Take the leaders first; If they go down, the rest will never dare To try the ford. See there upon the hill Their vanguard halts, and up there comes the sun. Now be the Lord with us as with our sires. Swift to your places." The wide earth is still. The night mists linger in the noble vale, Folding their shadowy tents. The mighty stream, Gold in the moonlight, golden yet by day With sheaved tide of myriad far-off springs, Goes silent downward to the waiting sea; Upon its bank the village with its roofs Catches the glint of sun. Along the plain By riverside and on the stately hills Are fields of ripened corn that lift to sky Their offering of peace. Yea, all is well With earth and sky and stream. They know their Lord, I 57 I58 THE STORY They bow them 'fore His might, and reck not of The immortal woe of man. There in the sun, Sharing the morning's glory with the woods That stretch their sheltering arms for wayfarers, Swift shape the ranks of war. Now bugles shout Far challenge and commands. The ranged guns Flash out, and through the quivering air their shell Stoop as swift falcons to the ships in stream To wake their coward answer in wild fire. Awhile the hills and sky quake with the roar, And then the recreant crews turn in mad flight; Scarce singed by the battle, forth they go, Beaten by fear upon the dastards' way. Hear the hurrah that greets this victory Thus easy won, for now the foe sees wide The gate unto the north a cheer that bears Their hearts far on their way. Their lines are closed, All 's ready for the mighty rage to sweep Straightway to further shore. Wide is the stream, But on its breast the troubled waters show The hidden bridge the horses will stride o'er As easy as a brook. Their leader calls Unto his captains, " Ready for the ford!" Then to his gunners, " Fire upon the town! They dare to keep their flag !" The cannon play Their rain of death, and yet no answer comes From out that silence. Then with the Rebel yell, THE STORY That ringing cry that overtopped the roar On many an olden field, the avalanche Of valiant hope sweeps onward down the steep Upon the silent hamlet -all so still It seemed a painted village, with a man Lone waiting in its street. As they ride on Their shouts die out, and men who 'd known no fear In charging o'er hot cannon know it now In sense of waiting death. E'en their horses know, For bred in them, too, is the sense of war That smites their riders, telling that before Crouches a mighty peril ; see, they rear And swerve away, but onward they are swept As bubbles on a surge. Now that lone man, Our leader Bradford, who had scanned that tide With planted feet and heart immovable, Watching the fatal moment, gives the word. Swift from each hold rings out, " Make ready - Fire!" Now breaks that surge of war upon the cliff Of steadfast valour; down the front ranks go, Rider and horse, and o'er them wave on wave Roars madly on the wreck; dead and alive Are tossing in that ruin. Rifles play From every crevice till the heap is stilled. Swift ring the foeman's bugles, harking back Their beaten ranks to safety. Once again There bides that waiting silence o'er the town It is a stroke to daunt e'en veteran hearts, 15 9 THE STORY And yet our leader knoweth with his men It is but moment's respite they have won, 'Fore craftier assault. Ay, they know well That those who set on them are kinsmen true And take hard strokes as lessons; con them swift And mend the next they give. There is no shout Of victory for fight that's but begun; But quick they turn to action; lay their dead As fitlyv dead should lie; help wounded; search Their fallen foes for chance to stay the life That ebbs away - to find it shelter good From searching storms to come. 'T is bitter work That sieged men must do when comes a lull In war that beats on them. Soon all is done That willing hearts can do for friend and foe. The master of their deeds knows well that Duke Will try no more assault, but ring them in, Fire the houses, bid his cannoneers Rend from afar, smite one by one their holds, So winning to his end-and yet he sees The half is done, for such stroke daunts the best, Slakes bravest hunger for a far emprise. There in that gruesome heap is laid the tithe And forefront of his valour and his trust. Yea, they must fail, but down with them they'll bear To earth their nation's peril. So his words Give cheer and counsel: " Men, it was well done, - A good first heat; the next will try our wind. Cling to your houses; let each be a fort I 60 THE STORY I6] To hold unto the last. Fight to the end: We'll find our winning there. They are hard hit: Another blow like that and they will break And never try the ford. Here they come on." There in wide circling lines the skirmishers Creep down the slope; from every vantage send Their shot upon the town, and back of them, Now all afoot, the main line of the host, Wary from hard-learned lesson. Still they're far, Mere flecks and fringes on the fields; but see, They feel the nip, for here and there a fleck Drops as a marksman's rifle rings, to bide As on his fellows go, unshaken on, Swift rushing in the open, with scant pause In sheltering coverts while they send their fire, As if a great wind blew them to their death. Now stumbling o'er their dead they win the street, Break in the doors to find rude welcome there From shot and steel. Swift are the portals blocked By those who fall, while from the windows hurled To smite the surging throng come shapes of men, The dead of friend and foe. Their leader sees He's spending all in vain save for the help That Satan lends him in the ready torch. Yea, he would spare that woe, for in his heart Stays true man's tenderness for worthy foe No rage of battle downs. But he knows well His hard task is to win; to find ally If needs from deepest Hell. " Quick with the fire!" 162 THE STORY He calls unto his men: " Burn every house, So thev will have to face us." Why so far, Grim master, scent ye seeking nether Hell Down the vast circlings of deep buried ways That never know the sun, when in the light Of harvest morn, wherever harvests wait, That shame burns 'fore men's eves; when every year That rounds with sickle, binds within its sheaves A sorer tale of woe than thou canst paint With all Hell's scorch upon thee-with thy pen Dipped in its burning lime Behold this scene, All ve who would know torment. There's a town, Each house a temple built with toil and hope, Roaring in flame, and they, the ministers, The mothers, fathers, children, old, and babes, Who tended altars for the eternal God, Smote by the Devil's hosts their fellow men. Why shame earth's ordered depths with phantasies Limned from the Hell that liveth but in man Why picture Satan in that far abvss, 'When thou dost know him throned within thy heart So soon the Christ is spurned Poor fool, poor fool! Leave fancied deeps and painted realms of woe, Scorch eves and soul right here. See 'mid that flame The fleeing women hugging babes to breast, Or bending o'er their lovers for a word Ere word can come no more from closing deep; Sore wounded men, who spend the last of life THE STORY In one more slaying stroke. Hear that wild cry Of those 'neath burning rafters, prisoned there, Singed with the flame, yet roaring forth their joy Whene'er their rifles slay. Hast thou yet eyes And soul unscorched to look, know then thou art Thyself the Satan. For, alas! we know That men may do his work and yet be men When the dear Christ comes back; but he who looks Unblinded on it is the lonely one, The lord of shame. Still turn once more, behold, When day smites through this night, in shape of man Scarred, blackened, bleeding by the demon's work, Who stumbling creeps through ruin of his house Lapped by the eager flame, yet bearing out A stricken foeman, lays him tenderly Upon the reddened sward and vainly strives To stay the life-tide; when the last sob comes, Straightens the limbs and covers up the face, Leaving the youth to sleep: then weary-eyed Sets him again to slaughter. Now send eyes Once more into that night and its hard flame, See there a home such as the morn looks on And knows wherefor it comes to light this world: A little house girt in by autumn flowers That waited frost in patient loveliness, Sure of their errand done, - for they 've been fair,- I6 3 I64 THE STORY With might of man and woman's tenderness, Dear joy of cradle and dear hope past death, Crowning its roof-tree. Ere upon it rolls That lava tide of war to shrivel up All that hath made it temple of the Lord, There by that window see the youth who rode In that long, long ago of yester eve, With heart of boy to bear the load of man; Swift, hard-faced, grim as ever brutal fate Shaped instrument for slaying; yea, a child, Yet with war's hell in heart. Hear thence the ring Of shot on shot and mark how his strokes tell, However far the aim. Now the smote foe Find whence that smiting- hurl upon the house And swift break way within. And there 's a cry That sobbing dies away - a cry of child That fears the dark. So on, forever on, Amid the surging flame the battle sweeps. The shouting dies away: there's scant breath left For silent grapple and the stroke that slays. Yea, it is still save for the roaring flame, The tread of hurrying feet, the hard-drawn sigh Wherewith the life goes out; for all is spent Of shot and powder, and their guns are clubbed For what of stroke their weary hands can send. See, there the living fall beside the dead Spent in the fearful doing -like to die And praying for their peace. THE STORY Hark! now there ring Once more the foeman's bugles, keen and high, Insensate shout of triumph. So hath brass Adown the thousand years cried victory To ears that hear not and to ears that hear, Shouting the lie, " We 've won ! "- See now they come, The sorry remnant of that noble host, Creeping unto their standards, shrunk and wan, Their souls borne down with shame for victory Paid with that price, alike of friend and foe. Ay, they are beaten, victors though they stand Upon that field of shame, for in their hearts The drums and trumpets wake no more the cry For eager onward deeds. Their faces tell, Grimed and tear-stained, the weariness of death That dreams of peace afar by firesides In light of kindred eyes. No more of war, Of glory past yon ford - no more of earth, Save in that silent place where men may rest Waiting the angel's trump. Ay, they are men The demon is away. Their leader rides Silent along the line; reading what's writ In those bowed shapes he chose for veteran's work; Reading in his own heart what's writ so plain That every man hath read: that 'tis the end Of all that wondrous vision; where a stroke Straight to the heart should slay the ills of war And win his people peace. Yet he must count As does the trusty soldier; reckon well I 65 With fate that stands afore him: of his men A third are on the earth; of officers There stand but three before him fit to lead Those men unfit to follow. Then he asks, "What of our ammunition is there left " The answer comes, " All 's spent; there 's not a round Left in our pouches, and the enemy Burnt his last cartridge 'fore we bore him down." Now for a while that leader silent looks Over the smouldering ruins to the hills That lift beyond the river, in that morn So crowned with hope - this eve with hope so far, And in its place despair. He fronts a deep Impassable, by beaten foemen delved, Wherein his cause hath found its hapless grave. Then longingly again to his men's eyes, As if to find in them the will to share In venture wild that shapes in his despair To try with fate a leap into that gulf. He sees but beaten men. And now he turns To where our Bradford kneels beside a man, A stricken foeman, who hath life to save; Looks long on him, with heart that by him kneels, Then in bowed speech, " My doctor, you have won. We are the beaten; though we keep our swords, You have our hearts. With you we leave our dead, Our wounded, knowing well that you will care For them as for their brothers, once our foes." THE STORY I6 6 THE STORY The busy doctor answers with a nod, With eyes still on his task. So came the end. Once more cry out the bugles, and the lines Unfold and roll them weary up the steep, Down which they came with morning in their hearts. The sun hies to its setting, wrapped in gold; The river goes as it in morning went, Bearing the tide of earth and faith of men Forth to the waiting sea. Ay, myriad springs From the far hills are blent within its tide To know the light of day, the stars of night, And then the eternal deep where sun and stars Shine on forever. As they onward flow By that untrodden ford there comes a rill, New broken from the everlasting mounts, To join its brothers on the way to sea, And on all flow together, past our sight To memory's deep. Far, far away, We hear those bugles as the marching host Passeth into the night. Forever on In hearts that strove with them to fatal goal, Or stood against their might. Now we are back In that old blacksmith's shop with grimy walls, Where scraps of iron hang on rusty nails, Wait for their pennyworth of dirty use; Floor rubbish-strewn, and windows with the dust I 67 i68 THE STORY Of forty years upon them; cheap and drear After the manner of the life of man Lived on this earthy world. Again we see Those five hard-visaged, bent old men, The remnant of that mighty deed of long agone, When for a day they with their comrades found The might that dwells in men; looked once afar Through the dark gate of death unto the realm Where God lives on forever; then turned their eyes Back to the commonplace and knew no more The gateways of the soul; content to bide So long they might within the simple house Whose portals are the cradle and the grave, With chimney place for altar. So we judge, We who dwell in our palaces that look Far o'er the deeps, and for our servitors Have all the noble hosts of ages gone To guide us on far ways; to bid our souls Upon the gracious paths of fellowship With all that's pure and high. All was not told I'd journeyed far to hear, for yet I saw There by my side the shade of him who stood In noble substance two-score years ago Near to my heart: as he would be assoiled And to his rest, but waited till I heard How came his passing. So I said to them Who opened me the gates they looked not in, Tell me of Prentice. He was dear to me, THE STORY The dearer for the parting that had come Before death sealed it." Then the sinner spoke, His hard old face aglow: " Why, damn it, sir, He was the darn'dest fighter of us all; He led in every rush, smashed through our doors Like a mad bull, and swept our people out. He was the Devil's broom. But he fought fair, With no mean tricks. I saw him lift a man, One of our side, who'd stumbled and was trod Beneath their feet, set him upon his legs, And cuff him to our line. He would not strike A chap who could not face him. Many did To take good whack in front. Oh, we tried hard To down him, but the Devil helped him on, And made our rifles popguns when we sought To find his heart, and our stout bayonets Broom-straws before his sword." All that I knew In knowing him; knew that it was as man He did the Satan's work, with here and there A glint from soul. So questioned I again Of the dear sinner: "Tell me of the end; Where was he slain and how " And then all turned Unto the ancient blacksmith, as they felt 'T was his to tell the story. For a while He sadly looked away with half-closed eyes And pinched face, as those who feel the glare Of a hard flame; then gently said to me, He was your friend, I 'm sure you loved him well, I 69 For never was a fairer youth than he Or manlier in man's deeds. He came to death Upon a landing in a burning house; All who charged with him lay upon the stair Wrapped in the flame, along with those who held Against that brave assault; alone he came, Sore wounded but a mighty soldier still, Upon the master of the house, who was The last of its defenders. There he fell, Shot through the head. So soon as he was down The master turned to fly, for time was scant With fire all about; but back he came, To listen at the heart of that brave foe. Life was yet there, and so he bore him out, Laid him upon the grass, and saw him die. That night he made a coffin, washed the dead, And buried him on slope of yonder hill Beside his comrades and our brethren. Two days thereafter, when the mother came, He washed it once again and gave it her, For she would take it home." Then as I looked On his averted face I read the rest. He was the master of the house who told The way that Prentice died. Dear simple art To save his neighbour from the pain he 'd give In saying, " Here 's the man who slew thy friend:" Mayhap in part to spare himself the woe Of opening once again the long-healed grave THE STORY I170 THE STORY Where he had earthed his dead. Ah, reasons vain; It was his nature did it. Ye who dwell With all the noble hosts of vanished days Match that man's doing from their storied deeds; From out your palace windows see ye aught That better shows how true hearts beat than this Rude simple tale of valour and of faith, That dwelt in that plain man Awhile none spoke, For all our hearts were sore; but in the gleam Of the December eve I saw the shade That long had stood beside me fade away, For now the noble story was all told And his good peace was won. The sun was set Upon the last day of a hundred years When forth I went along Augusta's street From that strange parley with those five old men,- Saw there such folk as I had known of old, A weary rustic lot that made that name So linked with ancient splendours seem a crown Set on a beggar's head. Cesars and Rome And the vast memories of vanished days Bide in that word. But when I looked again, I saw the crown had 'neath it a new king: The Roman knew not when the Tiber ran By the Augustan city. That here stood The citizen she dreamed of: plain, blunt man, 171 THE STORY Content to dwell all simply in his fields, But ever readv for hard duty's tasks With plough or sword; who counted death as naught, If commonwealth lived on. Ay, 't was well named, This simple hamlet by the western stream, For there men judged right well 't was fit to die And went as men to death; they did brave deeds And then were still. 172 CUMBERLAND GAP 'T is in a far-off summer day, By a mountain pass that's as far away From our life all busied in little deeds, With its languid hungers and trifling greeds, As is that ancient summer day. Far time and place,- yet far place and time Lend them well to the lover's rhyme, If there and then was the work of men, Done as men do it faithfully well, With clear eyes that see to the promised lands, God's trust in their hearts, His might in their hands For all that them befell. 'T is a rugged host for a rude time's tasks, Where the saints are few and the sinners many; At his dirty booth the Devil asks For such no more than his dirty penny. Yet that old Satan knows well his wares, For all the scorching that's on their hides, Are but his without and the Lord's within; That spite of their blackness, their grime, and their sin, Deep in their hearts His grace abides. 174 CUMBERLAND GAP 'T is on the path where the pioneers trod A century gone when they followed the sun Into the wilds, for else guides there were none,- Save trust in their thews and trust in their God,- Breaking their way straight on for their souls: Slayers of woods and smiters of men. Edge of the axe and tip of the spear That hath hewn and smote for a thousand year The way of our kind to its far-off goals. So thev of old won to Cumberland Gap, Leaving a trail for their brothers to foliow; A nick in the range, as you see on the map, With many a peak and manv a hollow; With one deep rent in its castled crest, An open door to the unknown west. Straight onward thev went, those breakers of ways, Hunting for gates of unconquered realms, Seeking their kings, -yea, the task of earth's days Is to build and to bide for the mastering men. So the brave take it, and so it was done, And all that fair land to the setting of sun Was had for the asking of souls that dared ask And questioned not fate how hard was their task; But who set one foot forward and then set the other, In the manner of men who know earth as a mother, Trusting her bosom for nurture and sleep, Clutching her gifts, and ready to keep All of her giving by giving their all. CUMBERLAND GAP I75 With sun in heaven And good earth 'neath their feet, they built a realm Founded so well that naught could o'erwhelm Save the entombing sea of lust and greed That surges round our firmest. Their fair seed, Planted in trust, grows to good earth, and grows An hundred-fold of yield. A hundred years They delved and planted, reaped their goodly fields, Went trusting to their graves, bequeathed to sons The task of staying what their fathers shaped, With faith and might to face the dooming sea Whene'er it burst upon them. Trusting well; For here now stand their children, ranked in arms, Looking upon the way their fathers trod, Eastward from that fair portal whence those sires Saw their vast empire dim and far awav, Yet near their conquering hearts - watching that deep For ill that sweeps unto them. Looking far Over the valley of the Tennessee- A noble vale, so wide that range on range Of shadi wy mountains sleep within its fold, And many a river singing to the sea Glints in the sun as to and fro it sways Through its broad meads, as it were loath to go From all the fairness it had won from earth. Now where those fathers found no sentinels But stately ordered pines, no fortresses Save for the craggy steeps that wind and rain CUMBERLAND GAP Are wont to carve in shape of ancient holds As thev would tell to man that earth was made For sturdy battle 'gainst its ceaseless storms Behold great ramparts set with mighty guns That silent wait, and grimly look afar Whereto they mar hurl death. There by them tread The watchful sentries, scanning hill and vale For what men wait in war. And far below Cluster the tents and cabins of a host, Three thousand men set there to hold that pass 'Gainst an embattled deep. It is the morn Far in the east the day comes surging up Over the noble peaks that frame the sky- Vast mountains rude and stern; grim warriors, Who ages on have faced forgotten seas And hurled them from this land; yea, keeping well Their ward of earth for man, until he came To watch and care with them this heritage To the eternal garner. The sentinel Upon yon waiting rampart treads his beat With keen eyes set where in the glint of morn He waits the front of swift on-coming war Over this realm of peace. For well he knows That from the Atlantic's shore it westward sweeps Over that olden path the pioneers Broke through the wilderness upon their way To win their commonwealth. He watches well I176 CUMBERLAND GAP In that hard manner of this villain man, When flash from sky hath set his heart afire With the old flame of war. See how he halts, Brings musket to a ready, while he peers To the far verge, where half-score miles away There comes a twinkling, like the sun on waves, Upon the mountain's crest. Naught else he sees, No shape of man or horse; but all is told In those swift flashes writ on far-off sky, In glint of bayonets. So now he calls The corporal of his guard, and swift the word Goes on the ready ways of ordered hosts, And in a trice the leader by him stands, His hand above his eyes. A moment more, At foot of hill down which the glintings flow There leap up in the air thin jets of cloud That curl as smoke from chimneys to the vault. Then comes the answer, where that twinkling halts Before our outposts. Still but smoke and gleam, Even to eyes that Galileo armed With sights of gods. Yea, men are little things, Seen thus afar save for the mighty deeds That bridge the empty spaces. Earth and time Look else as atomies, all meaningless, That find in voids fit place. Now it sweeps on, That unseen might, 'whelming the few who hold Hopeless against its coming save to tell To foe what waits, to friends what cometh on, I177 178 CUMBERLAND GAP Winning a little time for those swift needs That press on sieged men. The bugles flare, The drums are whirring, and the couriers speed Adown the ways to call far outposts home, And swift ride forth five hundred chosen men To stay their comrades in their fight for time. The laden wagons wrestle up the steep, Filled high with provender for man and beast; The herdsmen drive their cattle to near folds Within the cannon's play, and wailing goes Forth to the rear that train of misery, The wounded, women, babes, that hie away From hold that shuts its gates, to fight and starve So long the Devil wills it. Axes ring, Felling the trees across the open ways, While ready torches fire each house and barn So that the foe shall find a desert where The sun looked down on plenty. Now 't is done, The fortress set for siege, as o'er the ridge Stray in our skirmishers. It seems a rout Of scattered, beaten men who tumble back, Scurrying o'er fields and hedgerows in their plight, Now fleeing swift, now halting for hard fight Where two or three find chance, now striving on Where swiftly gathered scores, with charge sent home, Break through the on-coming line. So, stroke on stroke, That ordered rout the bravest work of war In the good vanguard fights, where every blow CUMBERLAND GAP '79 All hopeless for near winning's struck for faith To brothers that it spares. Now a brave gun Perched high upon our hold with mouth to sky Bays out wild welcome, while from its hot breath Sweeps mile up in the air a hurtling shell, Swinging as hawk upon the victor's host, That startled waits its stoop. And now the scream Of Satan, who bestrode it in the charge, Turns to victorious roar as swift it rends A path through that dun host; so wide we see Adown it as a street. But one stroke daunts Even the bravest when it hurls from sky: So valour has no answer. In troop our men Save those who dot the wayside of those miles Beaten but stout of heart, for they have done The rear-guard's task right well -had good receipt For all their spending in the time they won, And token of it in the shout that hails Their coming to the fold. The halted foes Seek lodgement by the river where the hills Give shelter from our guns, in camps arrayed Beside their planted banners. 'T is swift done, For they are tentless, and they need but room To lay their weariness by that pure stream That washes ills away; to build their fires And by their side find home. Awhile the host Waits 'twixt the acts. The leader with his train Of ready aides from yonder hill-top scans CUMBERLAND GAP The wall that lies before him - wall of hearts That crests that mountain steep. Searches right well, As is the soldier's part, to probe the earth For hidden treasure in some chance to win His way unto the goal. Soon forth he sends The keen-eyed scouts to creep by twos and threes Through fields and forests, seeking for fit place Wherein to try surprise. Wide circling round, They close upon the fortress but to find Each nook and cranny with its sure defence; They know the warders' hail in well-aimed shot Of purpose wild, to halt and not to slay; For the true soldier knows the comrade still When he must count the foe. They take the quirk Of many an outpost: " Ho, Johnny, we are here And hungry for you. Get out or come in, We 're tired of your fooling." Steeps look plumb When half a mile up fellow veterans crouch In grinning patience, waiting till you come, What's left unrent by cannon, blown and spent For last hard greeting at the rifle's mouth, Or spit of bayonet that hurls a chap A ragged bundle down the way he came. So through the day and night they do their part, That better than the battle tells the skill Of warring wits that play the ancient game With move and check until there comes a mate, And the great board is cleared for ventures new With other gambits. So upon the morn I 8 CUMBERLAND GAP I8I The wary foemen, judging well their part, Sway to the west, -break through the ways that lead On to the north, leaving our fortress blocked By force to hold it sieged until it starves Unto its rendering. Ye who would find How dear to heart are hearts of fellow men We dumbly know are beating next our own, - Thumping response when our own pulses quick, Each knit to other, brave for this hard world In comrades' deeds, -go set ye in a hold That yesterday was firm linked with a realm In common action as the body's parts; To-day cast in the void as some far isle Tramped round by sieging waves, with never sail To give a glint of hope. Slow wore away The weary months where morn and noon and eve And all the nights we listened to that void For distant shot, for roll of drums, or cry Of far-off bugle telling comrades came To break our prison; but it stayed all dumb, As if the deep had won again the realm That once knew men. 'T was all in vain we tried By morning foray or by night surprise To break that wall of silence, for the foe Hurled back the living remnants of our scouts Who crept in darkness forth with hope to slip Into the night away. No token came CUMBERLAND GAP Save ring of watchful rifles, or the cry Of hopeless valour wrestling to brave death. So on and on, until one midnight time, When earth and heaven back to chaos went In the wild ravage of a mighty storm That cowed stout hearts and blinded wariest eyes With flame and thunder, so that miracles Seemed fittest happenings, our outposts found Dropped in their midst, or by the lightning sent, Shape of a man as men are shaped who've fought What earth and sky may send to beat them down With the true hero's might to bear them up Unto the goal where they may fitly die With good priest faith to shrive them. There he lay, Shot through and nigh to death, naked, and torn By thorn and thickets where he'd dragged his wounds Through the beleaguering lines,-a mountaineer, Who fought and won his fight because he knew In his true warrior heart we hopeless starved Because we idly hoped when brave despair Should send us on as men. His life went out With his brief story, telling how the foe Had swept our hosts in ruin to the north, Until from Alabama to the shore Of the Ohio none held front 'fore him; That Buell's army in the wilds was lost- Lost even as were we to hope of all Who mustered swiftly for a last array: That gleaning of shorn fields that gathers all I182 CUMBERLAND GAP 18 3 Of man's shape fit to set as hope forlorn In battle where lads fight because they 're men, In knowing death is better than life shamed By living overlong. By lightning's flash We saw peace come to him, and read it clear In the scant rags that clung about his limbs, He'd borne our arms before he brought to us That message from the dark. The storm was by, And glorious morning swept up o'er the hills Bearing the valour of immortal sun As we laid in the earth that messenger Whose word lived in our hearts; to lead us far O'er the vast wilderness, where brothers true Faced ruin for the lack of men here scotched As rats in hole. Once more we nosed our cage, Tried every way, to find our jailers there Well fed and merry, scoffing at our ghosts That dared to face them. Then we crept about, Picked over bone-heaps for some shred that 'scaped Hunger of yesterday; stewed haversacks, And searched our pockets for the chance of crumbs To eke out one more day; heard from the foe A mighty shouting, telling us once more Of victories they hailed. Yea, we were low, Of earth's forlornest, who wait patiently The doom writ in the sky; set in the stars That shape brave messages for happy men. Then came the master's hand, the brave, strong hand I84 CUMBERLAND GAP That wins strange might from trial, smiting hard When all of life seems out. He who had been For all the weary siege but ruler set To watch and chide; to hunger too and grin, So that he shamed the weaklings when they drooped. The " old man " of our camp-fires, silent, grim, Much feared but little loved, stood forth the Lord To break our prison bars and let the day Into our hearts. The drums had beat tattoo, When from his tent went forth the orderlies Swift through the camp with word for all our men To make them ready forth to march ere day. To march, yea, willingly, straight to the sky Or straight away to Hell; but how to fare As else than ghosts along those well-blocked ways, No living man could guess. Yet quick we came With shouldered packs that made us glad to lean Each 'gainst the other, for we were starved men And bent beneath our burthens: sadder lot Ne'er gathered neath the moon. Lo, there he stood, Our sometime " old man," now our very Lord, With that upon him to bid heads lift up And quaking legs stay firm. Then came the word Straight to our hearts, "We march on to the north; They hold the roads; we '11 hew ours through the woods Straight to our brothers, or we '11 leave our bones Where they will show men marched." Oh, what a shout Rang from that peak and far down in the vale, CUMBERLAND GAP I85 So that our foes from sleep sprang to their arms, Deeming the sky was on them. Then we swung- The men of months ago, stout veterans, The ghosts all left behind - adown that steep And straight into the forest. First there went The van of hundred axemen, felling swift, So that the way was opened as we marched Slow onward save in heart, for with us went Our sick and wounded and our batteries Drawn by starved horses, poor dumb beasts who knew But service only, naught of that which stuffed Our empty hides with might and sent us on With breath to toil and shout, " Forth, straight away!" The axes rang before us; crashing went To right and left the trees. Upon the rear A host of other axemen closed the path With skilful felling; so contrived the boughs Laced in a tangle where each branch was knit So to its fellows that the barrier Was tight as beaver dam, and each bent twig Ready at touch to smite as well-swung flail Whoever stirred it. Thus we were islanded In that great sea of woods as far and safe From our hard jailers as though ocean wrapped Upon uncharted isle. Afar we heard The drum-beat and the bugle call to arms In all our foemen's camps, and roared our joy At the wild questioning of the hubbub raised By Yank and devil in the far-off wood. i86 CUMBERLAND GAP We knew him swift as Satan, knew he'd spring Upon our outposts, find there emptiness, And then, suspecting ambush, wary creep Unto that silent hold. Then as we climbed Up the long reaches of the wood-clad hill And won its summit with our slow-hewn way, We looked off to that fortress, lone and still, Where we had worn our hearts out. O'er its crest The fulling moon went down, and in the east Drave up the first of day. Good day to eyes That long had seen him glower through the bars Of that hard prison, mocking as he -ame With his free sweep to circle round the world. Yea, we now hailed him freemen once again, Free in God's wilderness to starve and die On a brave quest for graves. All held them still And looked back waitingly, as those who watch For wonder from the dark. Then as we gazed And listened in that silence, far we heard The clamour of our foes who hastened on To seize that hold and search its mystery, The tap of marching drums, the trumpets' cry To columns closing in, and then the thing That waited in the night. First bayed a gun, Sprung with its overcharge to bits in air; Then swiftly all its mates leapt to the sky, To fall as thunderbolts amid the flame That licked our tents and barracks, leaping up As it would fire the vault. Now came the stroke CUMBERLAND GAP For which the rest was prelude, came with roar, Heaving the earth to sky and hurling far Into the night the ruin of that hold. A moment and 't was dark; then scattered brands, Fanned to swift burning by the wind that swept Into that tumult, bore to woods and fields A tide of flame. Long stood we there and looked, But silently, for none had heart to hail Our ally Death, though well he smote for us, Sending us safety in that mighty stroke. Then rang again the axes down the slope On other side of hill; our way breaks on, Marked by the trees that totter, lean, and crash To right and left, leaving a rift where crept, As in a roofless cavern far from sun, The thin blue line that flowed down hill and up Over the mountain torrents, round the crags That sit as ancient ramparts on the crests, A monstrous serpent, with each scale a man, That worms its way o'er earth with many a turn, But ever towards the north star -animate With strange compulsion that bids it go forth, Starved, hopeless, toiling on its unseen quest. The eyes that look to earth from starry realms For all they know of deeds that we know not - Deeds marvellous and strange - see none so far From shape of ordered spheres as they behold In this wild march. There on the east and west 18 7 CUMBERLAND GAP Lie open wide fair ways that lead straight on Whereto that thing would go, and yet it gnaws Its burrow by their side; and stranger yet, Upon those open paths there, writhing on Like scaled serpents, they two striving north But swifter on the ways. Often they turn Upon a cross-road, seeking for the path Rent by the kindred shape on through the wood, And when they find it, there a tumult wakes 'Mid smoke and flame. But straight upon its course Sweeps the blue serpent, cleaving through the grey To lodge it once again within the wild, Leaving the cloven to reshape and crawl Back to the open fields. -Oh, ye who look Upon this troubled bit of whirling down From isles of peace afar, know ye that here Ye see of all God's realm arch mystery For these contending serpents are men shaped, As they believe, in fashion of Himself, And set in His creation for His work. Those glittering snakes are armies, and each scale Is that Lord's image striving till it dies To slay its fellow shape; and as it falls Back to the earth that bore it, forth there comes Another to its place. Yea, ye are far, But sure ye burn with us when ye behold Dear men chained in these serpents, creeping on As in a living prison, pray in vain Unto the might that rules us that He slay I 88 CUMBERLAND GAP 189 These time out-during demons. Ye ministers Who serve Him as we would, cry we are here In this forgotten atom of His realm, Knowing of day but biding in the dark; Cry that He save, or smite us to the deep, That we be shamed no more. The morning came As toiling axemen clove our way to vale, Wherein a brooklet spreading from the hills Dwelt 'mid broad meadows, glad to tarry there Where first it knew of man, to lave his limbs Ere he is cradled, ere he goes to earth, To hear his children prattle, light his toil, And bear his hope unto the unknown sea. There in that mountain fastness dwelt a folk By ages parted from the ways of men, Knowing but rumour of the wondrous tides Of life that sweep the world, of all its deeps. They had but sky above and earth beneath, And Death the great abyss, yea, and their souls That knit them all in one. In them they ranged As others on wide seas, brought fancies back Wherewith to deck their simple cabined lives- Gauds very like to those that Ormus sends From its great marts, or Ind, to venturer Pays for his far emprise. The deeps are like In all their noble yield of pearl and gold That guerds the farer's toil. Each year they sent Over the eastern pass a caravan CUMBERLAND GAP Of shaggy mountain bulls that bore away Their store of feathers, beeswax, and the "sang" That goes to far Cathay; and in good time The beasts came bellowing home beneath their loads Of precious things and strange, but strangest yet The sense of far away that came with them, As breath of Araby in ship that fares Thence to our western land. Then for a year Their lives drew back into that little place Girt in by hills and woods, lit by the sun, By neighbours' eyes, and stars.-Afar they heard The roaring of the mighty beast that came Trampling the forest down, and forth they went To give it battle, fearful though it seemed Even afar, for war was in those hearts That had not known its lines for hundred years: The eager greed for smiting who comes on - Or fellow man or Satan, yea, or Lord, Who fits not to their fancy in his deeds. On came their valiant host, full half a score, Shock-headed, barefoot, eager for the fray Until they saw us starved and battered men In a hard fight for life. Then they were friends, Eager to serve us as before to slay; Helped drag our cannon; led us to their homes, And bade us welcome with no questioning Save of our needs. For now their fear was by At sight of neighbours from some far away Who'd fallen by their doors. They gave their all Igo0 CUMBERLAND GAP From scanty larders, store of corn in barns, Their cattle, fowls, and pigs; sent messengers To claim the help of kinsmen in their task Of succouring a host. Did once again The noble miracle by Judah's sea, Where those scant loaves and fishes fed mankind For all the ages on, for they were given By Him who showed all deserts plentiful To those who will to give. While the men Swept far the land to fill our empty maws, The mothers cared our wounded with that skill Bred of the wilderness, in homely ways That passes craft of surgeon, for it hath The ancient healing touch of woman's hand To bring the life back in the homesick man With memory of mother, or let forth His willing soul in peace. But yesterday We were as beasts hunted unto our lair, Where we had turned at bay, and fellow man Save for the foe was dead. Now here we lay Beside a brook that sung as is the wont Of helpful streams upon their way to sea; With the good Lord who seemed so hopeless far Undoing hurts with those dear neighbours' hands That change this earth to heaven. Our worn frames, Weak from long caging, wearied by hard toil, Fled for a respite from the task before. I9 I CUMBERLAND GAP So 't was the morrow morning ere we marched, Healed of our torment, for that friendly day Had made hard yesterdays of no account, Once more to battle with the wilderness. We had in us the hearts of men who know Again this world is fair. We went not lone, For many of those neighbours marched with us; They little questioned of our quest, or cared What we were fighting for, but in their ears Our drums and trumpets waked numb memories Of unremembered days wherein their sires Had war trod in their souls. Cowpen', and Yorktown, Dunbar and Worcester, Cressy and Poitiers- And back unto the dark to that far time When first the brute waxed man and felt his might In onward surging war-line. So their legs Wagged them with us by instinct, as the babe Draws mother's breast, because it is the way Good Mother Earth has taught in her dame's school She's kept these ages; where her tasks well learned Are paid with kingdoms, honours, all her gold, Forgetfulness with death. We swifter fared With those keen guides in front who knew their land As lions know the fields wherein they range. The giants of the forest bowed them down At ring of their swift axes; 't was a sight To see the flakes leap far at every stroke As if they 'd waited for the chance to fly, 19 2 CUMBERLAND GAP And might that had defied a thousand storms Slip to the earth at touch of mastering hand That dared to smite right on. Where peril lay There in our front, that night of all unknowns, They searched it out, slipped through the tangled ways As wild beasts with the ken of things unseen But wondrously discerned. 'T was now straight on, With never backward step from balking cliffs Or deeps impassable, but by the ways The pioneer knows well, up beds of brooks Where winter's floods had cloven through the crags, Over broad meadows where the beavers built Their mouldering dams, where wreckage from the hills Staved on its way to sea, o'er table-lands In the high air, home of sky-loving pines That kept their shadowed floors as temples clean And silent at our footfalls, yea, that stilled The clamour of our men so they crept on As in some vast cathedral where they felt The Lord was near. In that good pilotage We swam beneath that endless roof of boughs, Steering our way to shore, and in each eve Sought those vast porches where the soaring cliffs O'erhung their fretted bases, finding there Strange altars, chapels in those ancient fanes Shaped for some faith that never came to be, All decked for worship in the peace that dwelt Forever with them. So we went dreaming on In idle drowse that numbs the wits of men I 93 I 94 CUMBERLAND GAP Who starve but strive right on. Dreaming we stood Each morn beside the grave wherein we earthed Brothers who 'd earned their rest, and dreamingly Heard the far call of bugle tell the foe Had found some by-way to us, once again To set across our path, and then we woke For a swift doing while the forest rang With the high bell notes of our guides' sure guns, Whose everv stroke bore death, and the hard slam Of well-aimed volleys, or the fierce hurrah Of charge that rent the foe. 'T was swiftly done. Our men, starved nigh to earth, found strength to smite For chance of haversacks of those they slew,- The half alive are fearful when thev call On what abides in men when nigh to death And hungering for peace, then dreamed once more Beside a wider grave wherein we laid Those who had paid the price. Yet there were days Oases in that desert wide of days - When we knew morn and noon and eve once more, For our good pilots, steering deviously, Found here and there a little place of homes, Each with its welcome, when our drowsy wits Were wondering who should open earth for us The morrow morn. And then we tried to set Our tatters into shape, tied up our rags, And lowered knapsacks so they 'd cover up Our ragged breeches, stepped with sore feet forth CUMBERLAND GAP To the sad tune our stumbling drummers beat, Or broken-winded buglers tried to find. Once more Elysian Fields with meat and drink, Scant, but enough to change our ghosts to men; Once more a sight of world that knew of homes, Of women's voices sorrowing for our plight, And shout of sturdy men who hailed us friends, Who fared forth with us when reluctant on We smote again the wood. Then for a while, Before we waned to spectres, we were gay With songs that lightened toil, with quirk and chaff To spur a drowsy wight that maundering went In day-dream of his home so hopeless far, And whack to send him waking to his task. Then each felt neighbour's burthen as his own And shared it as he could. All that was by, And now we went as phantoms silently, Each shut within himself with eyes to earth, That once rich earth, now with but place for feet And for wild hunger. There are many ways By which the ancient brute sealed deep in man Breaks back to day, but none so swift as that He finds when famished. Look into those eyes Where shone the light of mercy, love, and faith, The noble stars of sky, now lit with glare Ye see in ravined wvolves. Yea, 't is a sight To see those limp and faltering shapes of men Leap tiger-like upon a horse that falls; I95 I96 CUMBERLAND GAP In their wild fury stripping its lean bones Before the life is out. And as they gorge, See how above us wheel across the sky The watching vultures, as they knew the end Of all our striving. Spare us, Thou good Lord, War, pestilence, and famine; for they cast Thy shape back to the beasts, slay all Thy care That through the weary ages stored in him The wondrous harvest of his agony From errings infinite, that makes him man, The heir of life. In such a song as this There comes a time when singer should go swift, Else is his lay too sad for hearts of men, And not good solace, as all songs should be: So let our spectres grope on to the end Of their sore travail, till upon a morn, Far in the north they hear the cannon boom, Not the sharp yelp of field guns, but the bay Of the huge war dogs caged on fortress wall Or kennelled on stout ships, -and so they know Their striving near its goal; beside those guns They know their banner flies above stout men Who are their brethren. They listen long To make it sure that trouble of the air And quake of earth is no mere phantasy Bred of their weariness, -one more day-dream Of vagrant hope; but as the gentle wind CUMBERLAND GAP Swings from the north, the dullest ears know well It is the roar of guns. And now a cheer, A quavering shout but brave, goes to the sky, As might from out a spectral host that wins, Beaten yet victors, to the further shore, Where they may lay them, knowing they have done Their part as men. Now all their strength is out, -- The might that bore them disembodied on, Faithful, in that sore tasking,- and they fall In utter weariness, to lie as on the field Where lie the dead, heaped as they go Upon the earth; here pillowed on the breast Of one who went before; there stark and lone With closed eyes turned to sky. The sun climbs up, Waking the world; but those he marshalled on In their hard tasking sleep as children sleep 'Neath roof-tree's shelter, for they know that there, Down in the vale, are brothers who fight on; That whate'er may be lost, the good cause lives And waits their waking. Now the bugles sing As larks that climb the sky, and forth the drums Send their wild heart-beats, waking dullest ears That know the stir of earth. Up leap those shades, Those withered shapes of men, gaunt but now strong! From brave dreams to a waking for brave deeds Swift they are ranked, and swift they stride away Down the long slope that leadeth from the hills To the Ohio's shore. The unhorsed guns 197 198 CUMBERLAND GAP They've dragged a hundred miles with four-score men Yoked to each harness, tugging ceaseless on At the heart-breaking toil, seem light as sleds That boys drag o'er the snow -as if they too Lifted their brazen hearts to hail the deeds The morrow brings to them. Ye who have read, After brave Xenophon, how Spartan host, Long wandered, hopeless save for Spartan hope, Shouted at sight of sea, -of sea that blessed With chance of battles new, -and hear that cry Of kindred fate and hearts, from land and time So far no Grecian dreamed them, hailing gleam Of the Ohio's wave,- know strangely near Are knit all ages by the deeds of men: How " Thalatta " e'er rings on hard-marched ways That lead from lonely peril to the touch Of kindred helping hands. Now they have won. That sheltering wood 's behind, and 'fore them lies The day of open fields. There in the stream A fleet of gunboats that had swept away The foe that watched their coming. Yea, 't is home; Their nation's roof-tree 's o'er them, and the might Of brothers by their side. I see them now, How shadowy, gaunt, and old, as there they lay, None seeming less than threescore, -as the dead Made ready for the pit, while o'er them bend CUMBERLAND GAP Their helpers good, so strangely young and stout, Lifting each spectre for his food and drink, Then laying him to sleep. So for a time These whilom men were infants; newly born Back to the life they left on that hard road; Back swiftly to the strong men that they were Before their jailing and their wild escape Into the night away. Here is the end Of that brave fight for life and that which lives Beyond the battled lines. Yea, 't is the end, As valiant deed is ended when the veil Thick woven of the years shuts to our eyes The men who shaped it. When the curtain drops, The tragedy is ended, and we forth To seek the stars and air, and care no more For heroes dead or living, for the time To tell their story 's by, and they are dead So soon the story's told. But count it not That all is done when curtain falls; for Time With his immortal servants is behind, Shaping the stage for other tragedies. New actors con new parts they are to play, And the old pictures of earth's vales and hills Will hail those living as they hailed our dead; For dead and living are alike their own. I199 THE RESCUE MARCH DAWN comes where sleeps a host awaiting day To bid it forth to deeds. Far in the east The ushering star grows dim, and all the world Knoweth its splendour near: so hosts have slept The weariness of yesterdays away These weary ages, dreaming of God's peace, To wake for Satan's war. On yonder hill, Lined 'gainst the blackened west, the leader stays, The master of those legions, on his horse, Leaning unto the darkness, reckoning for What cometh o'er the vale of Tennessee Where night abideth yet- a sentinel, Whose task it is to peer into the night With heart for what night sends. His face is still, But in his eyes there is the light that shines Adown all ages' midnights, finding ways Where valour's feet may tread -the Caesar look That shrinks the ample spaces of this world Unto the stage where man may play his part And baffle destiny. Out of the west, Past the linked arches of the earth and sky, We hear the throbbing of the far-off guns, Now as a tremor of all earth and air, Now as a whisper, now a pulsing roar, As night winds tell the raging of far seas. THE RESCUE MARCH Awhile the leader hearkens. Then he becks An aide who waits; gives orders that are borne So swift as horse may leap. Then looks away Over the slumbrous camp, where 'neath the tents, Grimed with the mire of many a hard-fought field, Sleeps the brave host that waits his word to do Hard task for soul and thews. Then as he goes Adown the hill, he hears his message ring: Up and away, up and away!" Sing out the bugles, whir out the drums, Quick to your baiting, Johnnies are waiting." With the swift magic of the soldier's craft The tented fields are bared, the cannon horsed, And to their banners flock the burthened men, Each with half-hundred weight upon his back- What he hath of earth's goods, and what of ills Wherewith to slay his neighbours. Ye who know The tricked-off soldier of gay holidays Will seek him vainly in such veteran hosts That tread the ways of war. Behold him there, The ancient man of arms, who hath trod on Out of the primal night in search of day That dawns within his heart. Bent 'neath his load, A burthened, dirty peddler, forth to vend His hard pelf o'er the world. Bright arms and eyes And step that tells of might hid in that heap: All else is sordid, foul, as men may be With the clean life of true men 'neath their hides. 201 THE RESCUE MARCH Look down those serried ranks, and see thy folk The masters of this world. Yea, they are grim, As they had looked within the gates of Hell And knew its scorching still. Yet in them bides The heart of men sent on from sire to son, The grace of God from mothers who them bore To keep this world from shame. Long ere the sun Fires the tree-tops on the waiting hills, These ordered legions, thirty thousand strong, Are ready for the word that sends them on Wherever it may bid, and now their chief Giveth the message,- message that hath wings, Cleaving straight to their hearts, " Hear ye, my men Bevond the river, forty miles away, Our brothers are in battle with the foe, Who smites with twice their force. Valour will hold Until the sun has set; but in the morn We stand where they have stood or we are damned, For that good fight is lost. On to your work!" Then out that host there sweeps a mighty cheer From men who hail their tasking as the Lord Had opened wide His gates and bade them in; Yea, in that surging cry we know their hearts Are where their feet shall stay before the morn, When all those burning miles are trodden down. We hear not in that roar the devil's note, That rings o'er reddened fields for victory, But that from high, to tell the souls of men 202 THE RESCUE MARCH 203 Have might to stay the brother. On they swing A-roaring to the wood, and from its depth Far ring the echoing cheers-and now the field Where myriads dwelt the night is lone and still. Ye who in fancy see war's splendour gleam, From battle's front have never seen the might Of men who hurled them o'er the earth away Upon a rescue march. Yea, all the deeds Of noblest legions on the hardest field Have Satan in them ; but this march to save Is as the warring with the dooming sea O)f those who fight for shipwrecked -for the Lord. So are the dirty ways of war sublimed By those who march to save. On rolls the host, Steadfast as river forth into the sea, A mighty living tide that breasts the hills And roars adown the valleys, breaking ways Wherever earth may hinder. On, straight on, As hurls the avalanche that knows its path From the vast might that sways it. WArhile the morn Lightens their hearts, they tread to beat of songs, Wild catches shaped by camp-fires to old tunes That fit to plodding feet -those roundelays That vanish with the dust wherever hosts Tread on the paths of war; with quirk and gibe And boyish antics like a troop from school; 204 THE RESCUE MARCH With never note of what flames in their souls To hurl them on their way. They 've that strange shame That bids true hearts go hide nobility Beneath the ragged cloak of vulgar phrase; Yet through its tatters shines the shape within To eyes that know the trick. Yea, each one sees The image of his brother fighting on For God and land, like blazing cross in sky, As forth they to it willing as their Christ. They know the splendour of their task; they told How well they knew it in the roar that hailed Hard toil and death for goal. Yet now they howl Like monkeys on a frolic. Yea, such men Puzzle the wits of those who see their masks And naught of what they hide, who know not how Man 's shaped as is the realm where meanest things Cloak the majestic, so that we may tread Beside the Lord unblinded. Hear that song: "Trudging away, Hell is to pay, The old man is in for it, so trudge away. Ho there, you Johnnies! Yankees are coming! Get up and git, for the hornets are humming; Don't try to stay, -- Buell 's away, The old man is after you, Hell is to pay! "Old John Brown had one little Indian, Two little, three little, four little Indian, Five little, six little, heap little Indian, THE RESCUE MARCH Smart little Indian boys. Old John's body lies a-mouldering in his grave, But his boys are marching on. Glory, glory, halleluja! glory, glory, halleluja! For his boys are marching on !" Now comes high noon. The spring of morn is past - they shout no more, But bend them to their toil, with but a word Of cheer to wearied neighbour, or a whack To start his slowing blood. At frequent streams, Chill with the winter's snows, a horseman tries The surging waters, -finds where men may fight Waist-deep, each helping other, past the ford. Now plunging in, they wrestle with the flood That heaps above the throng and tugs and whirls; So here and there a man is swept away To wrestle with the torrent, -'hap to shore, Or 'hap to find another path so deep That leads to death. There is scant time to save Whoso falls by the way, when men strive on Unto a nation's saving. Yet see there Where one is whirled away, a brigadier Who cons his passing legion, turns his steed, Leaps swift into the stream, and spurring hard, Wins to the helpless, lifts him on his horse, And swims beside him till the shore is won, Roaring his curses on the hapless wight Because his gun is lost. So on and on 205 206 THE RESCUE MARCH The tide of life fights with those kindred streams That part it from its purpose: man's hard fight With brutal earth for chance to win his way Unto nobilitv. The ford is past, And all the dripping legions swing away, While mocking drums and bugles sing the call Of " pease upon a trencher." With no halt They munch their soak&d grub, the ancient hoard Of grimy haversacks; their pork and bread A gruesome mess that well-bred hounds would scorn The " three days' rations" that to veteran tells Famine and fight to come. Days when his belt, Drawn to the last notch, will not hold his legs In shape for sturdy wagging. While they feed, The weary horses strive to snatch their share From boughs and sedge-tops. So, close knit as ship That leaves no wake behind, go men and beasts With thirty thousand wills all shaped as one, Bound by a mighty purpose, straight away Toiling to horizon. 'T is now the time, The leader knows, that peril of the march May come upon his host; when souls and thews Grows weary of hard striving and bow down; When those who 've stood with no man at their back Upon a broken line falter and fall As dead beside the wlav. So now he rides With rear-guard, watching for the sorry signs THF RESCUE MARCH That stout hearts break beneath the load they bear. Still none lie down, and when, now here, now there, Some stagger to the earth, stout neighbours lift Their knapsacks on their own, and cuff them on. So they 'scape shame. This world yet giants knows Who in hard trials joy to help bowed men - Shoulder their loads and trudge on as they found Might in their double burthens -still have breath ITo send a shout of welcome to the skies For the brave tasking. There 's a Hercules, A soldier from the woods of Michigan, Who hath in him the axeman's nimble strength, The hearts of myriad oaks, the grace of pines That he hath slain. In him some Norseman old Finds once again on earth his ancient way To valiant plundering. Like Santa Claus, Clad in his motley spoils, he tops the heap With knapsack of a stripling by his side- A raw recruit, poor lad, who finds the Lord In that huge sinner. Yet as on he swings Upon the way, he pipes as pipes the lark, As if his only task were heralding Of merry days. And those who hear his song Straighten their backs, and are once more stout men In soul and thews. As on the rescue sweeps From morn to eve, each mile the sullen roar Of battle nearer comes, till cannon beats Sharp music for the march. The setting sun 207 THE RESCUE MARCH Is wrapped within the war cloud that rolls high Over the sulphurous field. A mighty arch, Lit by the pulsing flashes of the guns, A score of miles away and yet so near They quiver firm-set earth. Beneath that pall That shuts out heaven, on the columns pass As hosts that enter in the gates of Hell, Leaving the breath of sky. 'T is now deep night, That time the leader fears when men no more Take heart from all the cheering hosts of day, But blindly stumble onward, faint of soul, As if they groped o'er graves to find their own. Yea, all the morning valour's left behind, Trod down in weary miles, and all that holds Those bowed shapes to their task is faith of men. Ye fancy proof of man comes on the fields When dear life 's set for hazard. See ye here Far sorer trial than where they front Death That numbs their valour with his weariness, Leaving but faith to face the agony, Spurring them on unto far place to die. Hear that vast smothered cry, the myriad moan, Those prayers to God or Satan. See there youths, The child still in their faces white and drawn, Who sleep as on they stumble; dream of home, Of mother, or of sweetheart; wake to know Again their torment. See yon grizzled sire, Still soldier good, for all his three-score years 208 THE RESCUE MARCH That now weigh sorely, striving yet to stay His son who totters by him; last of three Who but a year ago strode forth with him Seeking their people's safety. So the host, That vast creation of omnipotence In soul-linked men, moans ever on and on Upon its tortured way: as some vast brute, Incarnate from the clods to do His work Of rending earth or heaven, might surge on, Bearing its load of woe to destined end, Knowing but torment till its task was done, In the lone joy of death. See there the men Who in the day swept on in measured tread That marks the veterans' going, keeps them free, Onward to swing as ordered birds in air, Are but a herd that crowds and sways and halts, Here in wrestling throngs, there with spaces wide, Past which in shambling run they win them on. See in these jammings of the senseless mob, At every halt, they sink upon the earth, Heaped on each other: lying as the dead Smote by volcanic blast. On them comrades Stumble and fall until they block the path As drift-wood bars a stream; and then the fight Of all who lead to wake those dead to life, Smite them afoot, and send them on their way With kicks and cuffs and curses, whack of swords, And prick of bayonets. 209 THE RESCUE MARCH Thus through the night Creeps on the column hurled forth on the morn, Nigh unto death, but with the might that lives When all of life is out, for faith bides still And bids it on, yet on. But now the wood, That all the night hath wrapped them in its dark, Hath light of dawn that once more pales the stars In presence of new day; a dawn that wakes No song in those bowed hearts. Oh, what a change From those brave legions ready for the march With Caesar round the world, now bent and old As they had trod with him the ages on Since he was quenched in earth ! What stuff for deeds Is left within those ghosts, those once stout men, Who hailed their cross when last swung up the sun Set them to bar defeat, to break the surge Of victory that leaps unto its goal Nay, they are beaten, fit but for the graves Whereto they stumble. So say ye who know The outer shell of man, but not the seed That hides within the husk; that waits to spring Unto its wonder, at the mastering word. He who hath conned that march and hour by hour As miser reckoned spending, hears that word Brought by hard-ridden aide who answers hail, Sent yester morn by swiftest couriers. " My general bids you know he is overwhelmed; His lines are beaten back, and half his force 2 I 0 THE RESCUE MARCH Hurled from the field and huddled by the stream. He dares not hope your footmen win to him, But asks you send your cavalry and guns To cover his retreat." Then for a time Our leader looks upon his down-bowed men - That sullen stream that creeps unheeding on - And forth into that war cloud, as he would Make reckoning with fate. Then answer gives: Say to your general that we shall stand To the last man where stood our brethren, there, Before we see the sun." The aide spurs hard, For he bears hope to brighten that despair. He hath the measure of that silent man And knows he reckons well. Hark! from the front There comes a cheering, -weary and yet brave, As dying men who find in victory A life spring for their hearts. Yea, now they tread Adown the slopes beside the Tennessee, Nearby the boats that are to bear them o'er Unto that smoke-enwrapped field of Hell, The goal of their far striving - place to stand And give the Lord account. See them sweep on, Once more a veteran host, with heart to snatch Victory from Satan. Now with swift charge They mount the boats, and with their willing might Swift warp them o'er the stream. They have a cheer From the cowed throng that skulks on further shore, 2 1 I THE RESCUE MARCH And from the myriad wounded who wait there For surgeon's help or death, a quavering cry Of shades that once were men: they send a roar, A lusty echo of the shout that rang The yesterday when forth they roaring went Unto their task. Swift from the decks they spring, Swift rank them 'neath their banners. Chafe to wait The slower guns and ordering of march, For each hath tide in heart that surges on And curses halting feet. 'T is once again The miracle of dead made live, good deeds Where death may be well earned. Now they are forth, Cleaving that chaos as the north wind cleaves The tangled wreck of storm; brushing aside The throng of vagrants, wreckage of the lines That Beauregard had smote; then carefully Crowding against the hedgerows to give way For those who bear the wounded; endless stream That flows from 'neath yon burning pall of war, With its grim harvest laden on their biers. See there a mighty black with master borne Upon his shoulders, as the shepherd bears Lost sheep unto the fold. Hail, Carey Bell, Dear, well-remembered giant! Thy swart hide Wrapped as brave sinner as this world e'er knew; To thee hard battle was a minstrel show. On with thy burthen snatched from 'neath the feet Of charging hosts and borne for weary miles - 21I2 THE RESCUE MARCH Yea, on I see thee marching past the sky With grin and quirk, but on thy back that load To lift thine own of sin! Now all the line Breaks to the double-quick, with hands o'er eyes And faces turned away ; for there 's the place The surgeons set their tables yester morn To toil through day and night. Look, if you dare To face the sorest torment of this world; Look not unless you could behold the Christ As he wore out his stout life on the tree, For here is once again that agony Shrouding the everlasting in its night. See those red altars for war's offering: And by them faithful priests, clad in their robes Once white as snow, now dyed with blood of man. See how stern faced they are, hard as the steel That in their tender hands rends limbs of men. See there the bearers toss upon the board, As porters heave their bales, a shapely lad With death writ on his face. The surgeon's hand Goes swiftly to the heart; then waves away What 's past his help, unto the nearby field Where lie his silent comrades, a great host Waiting their graves. Another in his place, Grey-bearded soldier, on his shoulder stars. Now with deft stroke of knife his wounds are bared And o'er him bends the surgeon. Swift the work, For in a trice 't is done, and his legs cast 21I 3 THE RESCUE MARCH Upon the heap that 's grown since yester morn; And forth he goes a remnant of a man, Haply to creep unto some far-off grave, Or happier to find it in the nearby field. So on and on those hard-faced ply their trade. Ye think them hard of heart See one there lies Who 's dropped the mask and sobs his life away Beside the mortal wounded, that no skill Can help save to the passing; smote in soul, By agony he 's shared. No wound 's on him, Yet there he dies of heart-break for that woe Fought all the night in grim way of his kind Who face, as men must, torment. Now from afar, Beyond the wood that 'fended yesterday This refuge from assail, the enemy With nearer planted guns welcomes the dawn With the wild music of his cannonade. Swift through the throbbing air come hurtling shells, Skimming above the tree-tops; stooping down To send their torment 'mid this wreck of war That here hath sought asyle. See there one sweeps, A shrieking demon, eager for the chance To do his master's bidding, with sure aim Upon that altar. Yea, well is it done - There 's rent earth where that place of mercy was, All else hath vanished, save the faith that stays In faithful hearts and hands. Swift as that stroke The ruin's mended. Other priests stand there, 21I4 THE RESCUE MARCH White-robed and ready, as new-stricken come Unto the new-built altar. On with ye So fast your weary legs may bear ye on To what awaits ye in once blossomed fields, Where tender eyes were opening to the sky Trusting the Lord, to find they waited feet Of maddened throngs to stamp them in the earth. What doth await ye there is Satan's own, What's here hath strangely mingled Heaven and Hell, Those warring infinites that rend our souls And make an end of deeds. They breast the hill, Spurred on by what's behind, and on they surge Into a ruined world, a ravaged earth Beat down by hurrying feet; past smouldering fires Where vanished homes: past many a field where lie The ragged flecks the bearers have laid down Because the life was out; o'er broken arms, Guns with rent wheels and mouths turned to the sky As they would bay the heaven -now deep Hell, Paved with the dead ! the mingled friend and foe Sealed in death's mystery. At first they seek to step Over the corses, then they stumble on, Cursing the hindrance, plucking here or there Canteen or haversack. Thus sways the host Unto its place of tasking. Now 't is there; The bugles ring their message and it swings To right and left, to stay where they have stood 2 I 5 2 i6 THE RESCUE MARCH O'er whom they stumbled on. Yea, 't is a sight To lift e'en cowards' hearts, that swift deploy Ending the rescue march and setting might SWhere hope was swept away. There, as the surf That laps along a strand, the waves swing forth In battle-line, until o'er hill and dale It reaches past the sight; then sinks to earth To wait the call of trumpets to its deed. The rescue march is ended, and what comes Needs but a brave awaiting. Up lifts the sun That shone to hills and hearts the yester morn And bade these brave men stand where brothers stood Who lie upon this earth: brave, patient sun, With welcome for all deeds and light for feet Unquestioning where they tread, unto its noon And on unto its eve! See those near lines, One that sleeps for near waking, one that sleeps In the forever, waiting for the trump That shall awake them past the realm of days. How very like those brothers as they lie Hap-hazard where they fall, some eyes to heaven As if they saw their peace in its still depths; Some with their hidden faces turned to earth As babes that hug them to the mother's breast, Shielded by loving arms; all in that trust Of the enfolding deeps that comes to all When lids of eyes go down. Yea, they are one, THE RESCUE MARCH Those silent brothers, in the sleep they share, Though they of further line wait tap of drum, And nimble bugle's cry to wake for war; And they the nearer for the angel's call In the far morrow, summoning to peace. So lie those twins together on the field- Death and his brother Sleep. It is so still In air and in all hearts that birds dare sing Their welcome to the day. Yea, 't is a dream That ever else than sleep with its wild dreams Stirred this abiding peace. No war fronts here; Even the guns are drowsing as their tasks Were all forgot, -idle as cannon old That are the children's playthings in a park; Fearful but for their villain crash of yore- Now well past all ill deeds. The horses lie Beside their weary riders. All 's so still The mother partridge pipes her tiny chicks Unfearing 'mid the sleepers, and the bloonms Trod down by hurrying feet lift up once more Their chalices to sky. So for an hour; Then on the fringes of yon sunlit wood, Where stand our outposts half a mile away, \We see the skirmishers' swift ordered line Sweep to the front, and hear the pattering shots That tell the storm-front near. Now on it comes, Surging from out the forest like a wave Shattered by surge through tangles, Blut swift shaped 21I7 THE RESCUE MARCH Into a mighty breaker that rolls on Unto the waiting shore. Swift on they come To grasp the victory they won at eve But night kept from their hands. They see it near, For on that field there stands no longer wall To 'fend their onset. One swift rush will win Their way unto the wreckage by the shore. Theirs is the mighty hunger of a host To grasp the fruit of hard-won victory: It spans a wondrous reach of emptiness, From patriot's longing for his country's weal To that of hungry bellies. On it roars Lust-swept unto its goal, a mighty tide Of all incarnate greeds. Ah, but now lifts A wonder to their eyes. To bugle's shout And whir of drums, from out the earth there spring The lines that went to earth as night came down, Of dead made live again in brothers true Who heard far cry and hastened. They stand firm As men with planted feet to save their dead, Their dear lives profit in the wrestle hard Made with rude death for fate: yea, as a rock To meet that valiant surge and hurl it back, An adamantine shore 'gainst roaring sea, Making its raging impotent and vain, Commanding it be stilled. 'T was long ago. That battle's smoke hath gone into the void, Its thunder to the deeps where all is hushed. 21I8 THE RESCUE MARCH 2I9 The blossoms spring the fairer on that field, As is their wont to where the faithful lie, That earth may give to beauty chance to lift Back to nobility the noble dust Of long-forgotten days. UNDER THE BANNER COME with upbearing wings, for we are forth To scan a realm trod down by warring hosts. From the great river eastward to the sea, 'Mid Allegheny's peaks, and by the shore Where laps on coral strands the wondrous stream Of tropic ocean, troop the hosts of war. There bugles ring and tireless cannon throb With pulses that their echo finds in hearts 'Neath roof-trees shadowed by enduring fear. Come with God's staying hope, to see this earth Shaped for His glory in the joy of sun Turned to the Devil's altar, where men haste As moths into its flame. Come with the eyes That look past Satan to the eternal fields, Sown with the seed of valour, whence shall spring The goodly corn that giveth to the store Unstained by reaper's blood. Yea, let us send W'ar's horrors to the deep, and keep in heart The nobie it unmasks; o'erlook its shames, So we may catch in light of brothers' eyes What lay, in brothers' hearts they could not tell, Till true faith broke the seal and bade us read As the dear light went out. 'Mid all that rage, Wide as the sea, behold this lesser field, - UNDER THE BANNER Still to a Caosar's grasp of earth a realm, Where, from the Mississippi to the hills That look as sentinels toward the sea, As they would watch the coming of their foe In marshalled surges, for a hundred leagues Stretches our war-line, that hath wrestled on, Still sweeping forward as a mighty wave That fronts the hurricane; now beaten back In wreck from steadfast rock, to lift again 'Fore the vast rage that sways it. Here it roots In the rude surge that brings it nigh the shore And sunders Rebeldom, so cleaving straight The way unto war's end. There in a morn Of promise-'bringing days the banners flit Beneath the shadowy arches of the pines, And trumpets wake the silence as they sing With hope that hails the shore and hard task done By willing hearts and hands. Life hath its morn, And needs no lark to carol in its day When past the night it sees to victory: So singing, they troop on. The master stavs Amid his aides upon a hill that looks Far to the north, wherein the rear-guard holds The lengthened chain of posts that stays this realm, Hard won, hard held against the desperate foe, That sure would smite to win again his own So soon his hands were free. It was the plan 22 I UNDER THE BANNER In our vast weaving of the net of war That east and west our hosts should press and hold All set against them, so no force could 'scape The clutch to range afar. We little knew How from that valour-breeding earth would spring Youth from the cradle, age from by the grave, Shaped to war's sternest use. AV, we were fools After the ancient way, in reckoning Brothers who stood against us less than men Of our own hearts and thews. But he who looked There to the north saw far, -saw well the chance, How to a leader's call from earth would leap A might to break that line and leave his host A drifting wreck lost in a 'wildering sea: So, with a heart that echoed to his drums Roaring on to the south, with soldier's eye He scans that northern way. There all is still. The fields are tenantless; the chimneys send No wreath to sky; for all there knows the peace Of war-trod land where earth's a widened grave. But see in that vast stillness, there afar Upon the edge of sky, the vultures swing Out of their ordered circling, as they knew Life breaks upon their realm. Now where the way Mounts o'er yon sunlit hill a dot moves on, A trail of dust behind, and now it shapes To horse and man: that olden messenger Who down the ages hath the dust of earth Spurned on his eager errand, bearing on 22 2 UNDER THE BANNER Command of fate to spur the hearts of men. Now he is here, and halts his weary steed Before the silent master. Swift he tells That from the east a hundred thousand men, Out nether earth, or sky, have broken through Our slender line; swept o'er the men who stood To die where they might stand; and hurled straight on Unto the north, with naught to bar the way But weary remnants of the wrecked commands Who set their wounds against the victor's host; Yea, and a throng of laggards, who now heard Their brothers' cry and knew at last the throb Of hearts awakened, springing forth to deeds With nothing of the soldier save their souls, A mighty tumult purposeless and vain Against that veteran might that would march on, If valour captained it, to Erie's shore And rend the land in twain. Ye who have seen Great captains face hard peril know the look That tells the might of man -that still, far gaze, Summing a realm of deeds and reckoning well What duty bids be done; how steadfastly They face the vast on-coming of the fates Sweeping upon them with the might to 'whelm Lean souls of common men. And then how swift They spring upon that peril with the stroke That smites it down. Yea, 't is a little thing Whereon the Lord hath writ the soul of man, 223 UNDER THE BANNER No bigger than this page, and yet it holds The master and the servant graven there; Of all the ages long the history, Since in the brutes He willed that man should be His temple in this wilderness of days. So for a while our leader looks away Over the spaces: then to his waiting aides Gives orders brief that send them swift afar Southward to stay the march and turn our host Back on their hard-won way; and east and west Unto his generals, to gather all Straight to his banner for the work to do Of winning back the realm so bravely won. Yea, it is hard to feel an empire slip Out of his willing hands into the deep, Yet 'tis the soldier's part to face the storm As he would happy faring. Swift they come From south and east and west in ordered streams, As rills that know their was unto the sea. A hundred miles of march, and all are there Beneath one flag in eager backward march, Rebargaining for fields that brothers bought And paid with faithful lives- no beaten host, But stout of heart, as when their bugles sang Of victories to sky. For well they know That 'fore them is the foe, and their stout hearts Leave else unto their leader. On they go, 224 UNDER THE BANNER From dawn to dark, in those long summer days, Scant-fed, sore-footed, gaunt, weak save in heart, But there well-tempered steel. The pole-star lifts As march on march they win their certain way, Trailing the longed-for foe. A wondrous thing Is a vast army in the primal realm Of ancient changeless woods and ravaged fields Wrecked by the tread of war, swift surging on As some great planet parted from its realm Through spaces seeking for its destiny Hurled by the will of God - and yet it goes A well-shaped commonwealth, where each man sets His feet to win and ward. There is the van The keen-eyed thousand horse-that scans the paths For what may lurk of danger, sweeping off The nimble foes that seek to block its way. Afar to right and left the flankers swing, Searching each vale and wood with ready stroke For what may menace. Swift stroke, then straight on- And after all, the rear-guard's wrapping lines, Warding the myriad wagons, droves of beeves, The throng of helpless gathered to that hold, As in old wars to castles. With them go The ambulances for the broken men Who've fallen on the way and are not healed, By prick of bayonet or slap of blade A shapeless huddle till the foemen try Assault upon it, then swift-ordered host 22S UNDER THE BANNER That stands a fortress 'gainst his stout assail. Within that moving wall of steel and fire Marches a commonwealth of kindred souls. Look well upon them, see what dwelleth there Writ clear on every face: the ancient tale Of poet's fancy, valour flaunting out Its vaunting banners Nay, a sorry throng, After the manner of earth's plain, strong men Set in the common deeds of common days. A marching folk, such as trooped on of old Through Europe's trackless wilds to bear down Rome. A host with peace in heart, but war in hand For whoso bars its way. An idle rout Until the bugles sing, and then stern lines That sweep as mastering surges straightway on Whereto the great sea wills. Those who know war In kingly pomp of hosts shaped by the art Of Old World masters see but rabble here Soldiers to be or soldiers that have been Until they knew defeat. But see them near, Ye critics of war's work, see now this mob Of farmers, shopmen, smiths, a folk in arms, A dirty clutter of on-straggling men Chaffing their leaders, girding all that lies 'Twixt Heaven and Hell. For now comes the test That tells a soldier dwells within their hides Before them lies a river wide and deep, Swift flowing, fit to try the skill 2.26 UNDER THE BANNER Of very Caxsar, trained in war's keen art, And on the further shore the crested line Of ramparts crowned with foemen. 'T is a check To mate the deftest player till hard siege Batters those walls to dust -save for the might Inborn of men who know this earth their Lord's And they its freemen: wonted to the ways Of keen, hard smiting at the front of ills With linked hearts and hands. Swiftly the scouts Pierce through that menace, picture it for deeds To silent leader of the waiting host Changed now from rabble to firm-ordered men. Then bugles ring, and forth the batteries Whirl to the hill--tops, while the columns break To battle order, steadfast creeping on To win the hither shore; while from the train Hurry the pontoniers with ready gear To bridge the stream: scores of good boats on wheels, Cables and anchors, timbers for the way To bear the rushing legions. In an hour The action waits the word; a cannon shouts, And ere its shot is forth its thunder cloud, The valley is a roar. From every point That offers vantage leap the screaming shells, While from the woods and fields the musketry Rings till it drowns the bugles. Swiftly rolls The cloud of battle o'er the trembling stream, Mantling its valley, shutting out the sun. 227 UNDER THE BANNER Now 'neath that pall sweep on the pontoniers Down to the riverside and toss their boats As they were cockle-shells into the wave; A moment and they're ranged. It nothing halts That from the further shore death cometh swift From hidden marksmen. As each toiler sinks Beneath the reddened stream, a brother 's there With hands to clutch the task, by him another, Patient and still, to stand where he hath stood So soon as he doth fall. Now it is built, And o'er the firm-set was the skirmishers Leap forth as unleashed hounds unto their work, Whirling the scattered marksmen of the foe As smoke before the wind. Then sudden pour The eager columns, infantry and horse, Cannon that waited for this final stroke, In tide that shapes it swift to ordered lines That circle round that hold, and smother out What flickers there of fire. The task 's half done, The foe well scotched, so on in surety Streams the brave river o'er the other stream, Each seeking for its sea. Ye who know war But in fair pictured fancies - headlong charge, Or wall-like lines whereon its surges break Know not its mightiest part in deeds like this, Where stout men hurl them 'gainst the rugged world, Rend through its mountains, bridge its mighty deeps, 228 UNDER THE BANNER 229 And count their foemen least of all the balks That hard fate sets athwart their eager souls. Now as the rear-guard passes, swift the bridge Slips from its moorings; once again its gear Of boats and tackle mounts upon the wheels And swings on to the north. The battle-lines Fall from that hold away, our dead are graved, The volleys ring, and then the quickstep tells The part of comrades done. Straight on, straight on, With no care of the foes they leave behind The wrecked host within that ruined hold. An hour's delay in summons or assault Were one league less of safety in the quest To save their commonwealth. True soldiers count Their foemen as no more than pieces set On the great chessboard for the game of war- They lift or leave them as it fits their play: So those hard-battered foes are left to creep Where they may will away -to earth their dead, To salve their wounded, and then hunger on Through the lean desert of this ruined land, Seeking their far-off comrades. Straight on, straight on Our mighty rabble streams, while day by day The store of victual shrinks. The herds of beeves, That in the outset seemed to cumber earth, And taxed the rear-guards' nimble care to keep From the swift raiders, shrink to sorry score, Lean as their herders, so that when they fall UNDER THE BANNER The buzzards scorn to pluck them. 'T is no more The semblance of a march: the men break ranks And drift across the fields for chance to fill Their empty bellies with what they may glean Where hosts have starved before. The parched earth Hungers as they, but giveth all it hath - Now here an ancient nut, and there a nest Of lonely bird that with strong wings hath won Nurture from far to stay its starveling brood, Where once was fecund plenty. 'Hap they find 'Sconced in some sheltering crevice of the hills A cot, whereto has crept a helpless throng, Widows and orphans, with a scanty store, The sweepings of their larders and their bins,- To eke out famished days; the while they hope Slow down unto despair beneath God's sky And 'mid His generous fields. The path is hid By woven brambles, long untrod, so blind A hound would fail the way. But as they go On their swift hungering search, they hear afar In the still air of eve a mother's song Lulling her babe to sleep -the olden song That builds a stair from sorest earth to heaven But they are of deep Hell, and naught they hear But the hard cry of hunger. Straight they go, As famished wolves that break through tangled wood, Straightway to plunder they have scented far. 'T is quickly done as fits the Devil's work, And he has one more harvest from this earth 230 UNDER THE BANNER Whereto the Lord sent man. The night shuts down As black as night should be in path of war To hide it from the sky, and through it creep The skulking hounds back to their sheltering flags To sleep in safety there by faithful hearts Good ward 'gainst Satan. Yea, and ye who hear Would hide ye in that darkness, waiting day To light again your flags and heal your eyes With all the glory of brave hearts that march To save your commonwealth. So have your sires The weary ages on made of the dark A shield to hide them from the shame of war, And all your singers help to blink the truth That war is Hell, loosed from the nether deeps Where ye help Satan slip the bolts that hold His caged hosts from man. The morning herds The stars back to their fold, and vagrant dav, That once sowed plenty in these waiting fields, Glowers upon their ruin. Forth there sings The cry of bugle -senseless shout of brass That roars so long as there is left of breath To stir the heart of man. So day by day And night by night they tread those vistas down That open endlessly. Where is the foe That marched unto the north No answer comes 2 3 I 232 UNDER THE BANNER From scouts who vanished swift into the dark That warps this lifeless earth. The soldier knows His task in battle's clutch, in patient siege, When stroke on stroke slow wins him to the end Over his comrades' graves: but thus to grope In the vast silence of forgotten lands, Seeking the spectre of an unknown host, Brings need of men who look afar and high And not to common flags. There comes a morn When with the lift of veil the fore-guard halts, Looks forth, and listens to a pulse that beats Far in the night mists: scarce it is a sound, Rather the throbbing of a far-off sea To wake the heart that is to it attuned. The soldier knows it is the bay of guns, Crying their welcome unto foe and friend. Swift with their swaying flags the signal men Send wide their message to the hosts that shout The weary shipwrecked's welcome. Never men Spent by far swimming gladlier hailed the shore Of the entombing sea: no longer lost In numb immensity, but foot on earth WNVhere heart and hand may smite a man's way on To dav or dark, they lift their weary packs, And lines that crept as wounded serpents swing On with the might that sees to victory. 'T was fortv miles away where leaped those guns, UNDER THE BANNER But ere the sunset they have trod them down And won touch with their homes. All night it flows, That wondrous torrent through the gateway set In the stout warding lines. First enters in The train that bears the wounded and the worn- The wreckage of hard deeds, who lift their heads To look upon their peace, and know 'tis done, That endless racking over stony ways; And then the thousand wagons, freighted once With plenteous rations, rattling now as drums, But all too heavy for the famished mules That stumbling sway them on; and then the guns, Dusty and grim, but still fate's tireless hounds To bay the coming hunt; after, the swarms Of troopers marching by their worn-out steeds, That scarce can pack their saddles and their bones A starved host, yet man and beast alike With hearts and thews of steel that need but rest. A fill of sleep and victual, and those frames Will hurricane the earth, while now they grope Like spectres to their graves, and lay them down As they would bide forever, - each a space Of silent hunger waiting to be filled Of all the Lord can send of comrades' help. And first for that good filling comes the throng Of lusty youth and manhood waiting there, Ten thousand hulking fellows full of sap, To swell the sunken ranks - raw men, but true. 23 3 234 UNDER THE BANNER They try " Hurrah "- it dies within their throats At sight of that grim silence. Could ye cheer The ghosts of Casar's legions flitting in Through port ye 've opened wide With willing hands And nimble wits they help them to their rest, Loose gear and lay the weariness to earth; Swift from the camp-fires bring them food and drink, Lend, best of all, the touch of loving hands That stays the flagging soul. Oh, it is good To find the port when we have fought the sea Until the life is out. Yea, all this realm Is shaped of deeps and havens-deeps where souls Shall fight on unto death, and past the gate Know touch of comrade's hand. So with the men: They drink in life until their shapes are full, Feed on from dawn to dark, sleep fast till day, And then da capo till they wake to sing. But they, the captains, have a fight to wage 'Gainst that hard foeman Time. All is set clear Of battles, march, and siege, yet those who read Know nothing of war's toil: to fit the trains; Shoe horse and man; mend all the precious gear Of that vast engine so that it may fare, Once more stout ship, forth to the 'wildering sea Ready for battle's shout; while those who care For food of beast and man heap up the store In endless wagons ranked along the streets. UNDER THE BANNER The ordnance men try every arm to find If it be true for duty - fill the stores Of cartridge, shot, and shell. It is a deed To set a hundred thousand men for proof In war's hard tasking; else is for the Lord, Who loves the ready host. Yea, it is brave To see a mighty ship cleave on through deeps, Or see a host swing to the marshal's wand; But ye know there the moment's deed that shines Because an unseen host has faithfully Delved for that doing till the task was done, All save the momentary. 'T is ready now: On the third day, the thing that entered in Like phantom ship to haven breasts the sea As Nelson's ships that sought their Trafalgar, And counted naught but reaches of the deep 'Twixt them and victory - brave for that dark Wherein their fate is hid. Behold the field: It lacks all fields can give save place to lie Where waiting vultures set them to their task. Yet forth they stride as men upon their quest, Naught seeing save its end. For now the scouts, Swift riding through the dark, have searched the foe, Fouid that his march was halted on the brink Of the Ohio, shrunken to a span But fronted by a host swift.gathered there - Greybeards and lads and women clad as men; 235 UNDER THE BANNER A throng that martinets look on as leaves A whiff of powder scatters, yet a host That those who know their folk know well will stay Where they have mind to die, yea, stupidly, Because they see but 'fore them, while hard men Who know war's game see well to what's behind Of goodly space for scamper till they clutch A better place to stand, though it be far From where their captains wait them. Let us look The nearer at that muster of our folk, The vastest it has sent adown our wxvys Since England sprang to stay that mighty king Who masked in petticoats, upon that day When the Armada swept unto her shores, And gave the world fair token of what waits 'Fore the invaders' feet. Ye who have seen This tedious creature, man, go sleepily In his dull round of duty, with no blink On sky or deeper earth, know not the man The Lord hath hid within that idle heap To wait His purposes. This plain, dull man Comes from the dust, and unto dust goes back The generations on, until some morn Flames on the sky the call unto his heart; And then his head lifts up, for to his soul Enters the waiting might of men who bore Himself in valiant days: the men who stood Firm planted on the hills by Alfred's side; 236 UNDER THE BANNER 237 Trooped forth o'er Tilbury field, or built the wall Of Naseby where the surge of Rupert's charge Broke into wrack and left our England's might Unshaken for all time. So troop they on, Those silent majesties of vanished days, To old familiar places on the wall Of that enduring fortress - heart of man- They 've built the ages on. A motley throng Old Britons in their breech-clouts, Saxon thanes, Men who stayed Cceur de Lion, nmen who drew Stout bows at Agincourt, or drove the pikes Straight over Cressy's ground, Old Ironsides, Who as the Devil battled for the Lord When came His crowning mercy at Dunbar, And nearer yet the men who laid them down In stout King's mountain fight, or found the gate To the eternal on unnam&d fields That gave them all they asked of earth and sky, Man's true way out of life. Yea, they are still; Slip so as shadows to the place that he, The keeper of the hold, knows not they come To stay beside him, and if needs be die Once more faith's noble death. Here is a flock Of fledglings from far nests, mere piping lads, Who 've 'scaped their mothers and are forth to heed The old cry in their hearts that made them men With one brave shout. Nay, nay, they will not turn, For that high note doth echo on and on 238 UNDER THE BANNER In their awakened souls, as yet unfilled With coward greeds and lusts. Ye may tread down Such callow youth 'neath hardened legions' feet; Ye will not find them in the scuttling rout, But with their faces turned unto the sky, Where their wide eyes have seen the messenger Cleaving the spaces. Behold another throng From the far end of life, old, grizzled men, 'Who 've won them to the verge of threescore ten, When Psalmist reckons life as weariness, Its fires out, and naught but ashes where The once bright altar flamed -the cannoneers Who rammed the heated guns in Perry's fight, Or when brave Pakenham's host at New Orleans Swept chaff-like 'fore their blast. They long have dwelt Beside their chimneys, dreaming out their davs With tales of ancient war; dear, half-forgot, Mere treasured memories, that share no more In profitable deeds. The yesterday Thev heard the cry that quicks the hearts of men: Up went their white heads, straightened out their backs, And in their veins came tide of youth again. Swift was their muster by an iron gun, That for an age hath slept on village green: An ancient war dog that shared memories With them of olden deeds. 'T was rusted deep, Until its throat was like a honeycomb, Its trail and wheels worm-eaten -still the gun UNDER THE BANNER 239 Round which their youth had danced in many a fight. The village smith had patched it here and there, The grandames shaped their petticoats for bags To hold the powder, and the pyramid Of painted shot half sunken in the earth Gave rest of ammunition. There they are, The mightiest score that ever trod a field, For in their helpless valour is the sign Of what lives on within the hearts of men Even when life is out. " A chance to die Where men would die to keep their land from shame: We ask but that, good captain," was their prayer, Straight from their soldier hearts. Of such the host That halted Bragg upon the Ohio's verge, Made that stern soldier see that 'fore him lay A wilderness of war, where stout men fall Before the might of shapeless throngs who count But on the stroke they send, and take their death With never look behind. So he lay there, To speculate with fate, perchance to win Now here and there a pawn; to force the holds, Enwrapped by his hosts as isles in sea, To render to his arms; nursing his strength On the rich gleanings of the ravaged farms So played the Fabian game until fair time Gave chance for deeds. 'T is a good game When ye have Rome for castle, with Rome's hearts Ranked close upon its walls. Ay, but that name UNDER THE BANNER Of Fabius spells ruin when you wait In open fields a veteran foe that swings As eagle for the pounce. So forth it goes, That aged host, upon its fatal wax' Over an earth that waited in stark drought For slacking of its thirst from hearts of men. This epic of the march may not be told In straightwav fashion of the mountebank, When with his puppets he bedecks his boards, Each matching trick to other; so the play To squeak of pipe and whack of drum goes on Until, his pennies gathered, comes the end. We now, behold the sea, whose cadences Top here and there the roar and then fall back Into the 'whelming shout of all its hosts, A symphony that wakes a seraph's ear, But dulleth that of man. So we mav catch Above the diapason cry on cry, Of those who sink and those who touch the shore: With that in heart, we guess the else of man That goes into the deep. The march flows on, A mighty river sheaf of myriad springs Swaved bv the Lord unto His waiting sea, WNVherein each life is but a drop of dew- So savs the master of the Orient faith. Nay, sage, it is not thus with men; they stay, Living or dead, as jewels in the stream, 240 UNDER THE BANNER Or in the outer deep whereto it flows; Such end in all-confounding fits the realm Of primal things that never lifted up Glad eyes and knew their Lord. But those that see Unto His throne live on, for they have looked Unto His splendour. Let us jewels grasp, Now here, now there, from out the hiding sea; Set them to gleam awhile within our hearts, So we may light us on our upward way, Knowing it leads to God. First of these gems See a fair youth, who looked but yesterday Into the dark and knew the Lord was there Commanding him to deeds; woke as a man From childhood's dreams upon the mother's knee To face men's grimmest work. Hail, Edward Wolff! Near half a hundred years have sent their blooms To deck thy grave, and all of thee is dust That earth may claim its own; and yet thou stay'st With those who die that men may ever live In the Lord's light, well knowing that black days Of starkest winter wait dear life to spring Up from the earth to heaven. Still I see there By Cynthiana's ford the leaping guns Baying glad welcome to the host that comes Straight on o'er heaped dead. Sure is the toll They pay for that hard passing of the flood; Swift is the dance of nimble cannoneers To the quick music of those ministers 241I UNDER THE BANNER That serve the rage of men. There, 'mid the flame And whirl of smoke, I see thy fair young face Lit by that hell-fire -girl's face, with a crown Of golden ringlets fit to grace a song. Right o'er their dead sweep Morgan's veterans Up to the guns. With one far look away, Down slip'st thou by thy comrades. So 't is gone, Thy life made for God's day; and all is still, Save for the victor's shout and mother's cry To deep that answers not. Roar on, ye drums; Clamour, ye trumpets, to the eternal vault; Tramp on, ye legions, tread into the earth All of its blossoms, stain its noblest springs With the heart-blood of man! Harvest earth's woe To the eternal garner! Still we will glean Out of your ravage the glory of days. Hail, Jackson ! in thy shape there fares a man Who should have marched by Cxsar o'er the world With idle might that treadeth straightway on; For in thy eyes I see his mastering soul Look o'er his legions to the bounds of earth. I well remember how thou pacedst the cage Where thou wast prisoned by our 'customed life A courteous, placid lion, trained to bear The gilded chains as if it loved their frets: 'With lifted head and eyes that gazed afar And look that compassed wilds. Yea, well I knew, When as a lad I faced thee, how there dwelt 242 UNDER THE BANNER That primal monarch 'neath the gentleman, Ready to spring into its native realm When time came for the leap. Now thou art free To rage on to the end -the lion's end That comes the morrow, when on yonder field Thou 'It charge with Caesar in thy legions' front 'Gainst legions stout as e'er that master set. I see thy valour lift the front of war As toppling surge and send it roaring on. I see thee ride its crest, and hear thy shout When it breaks on that shore, breaks and rolls back From the unshakable. Then in that wreck, Swift shaping as the sea for new assault, Rages my lion with the might to sway The host of demons in the heart of man To deeds of God or Satan. Forth it sweeps Once more to smite, once more to know the rock Of firm-knit brothers' hearts. So on and on Beat those vast pulses of the warring deep Until the battle ends, and they who seek- Those sometime foes - together for their dead, They turn thy face to sky to see the light That lit thee forth still in its silence glow, As with God's welcome to brave deeds afar. Roar out, ye bugles, clamour forth ye drums, Trample, ye hosts, until the earth is sere As the black streets of Hell. Yet well we glean For the garners of love seed that shall spring To beauty forever. 243 UNDER THE BANNER So as our host sweeps on look forth the eyes, The stars from out man's deep, dear eyes that see O'er battle's clamour to their waited place In the eternal peace. Why should we name Now here, now there, a man, when all who go On in that vast procession march with all, And have for due more than all song can lend To sing them on their way Yea, we will leave Those unsung men unto their loneliness That foldeth in the heart that seeks the grave With Him for guide. We'll turn as for a look Upon those edifices that are shaped When brother's linked to brother for far tasks, Where man's life is but drop in sea of deeds. Behold those banners that flit down the way, Those ragged bits of flame that top the staves Borne by those trusted, who know well the trust Is warrant of swift death. Each lights a throng Of close-knit men, who know the might that comes From soul of brother who stays by his side, Firm there for all that fate may ever send: Those ancient legions dubbed with modern names, The regiments and squadrons of our time, Still the old legions that hath valour borne Since man learned might of man, that have marched on With Alexanders long forgot and Hannibals That lacked their Livy's page. Here is a host Fair sample of their shape - a hundred men 244 UNDER THE BANNER That ride beside their guns, those brazen-mouthed, Who have bade welcome over many a field To many a roaring charge -swept it away As hurricane sweeps corn, to sullen wait For next that cometh on. A scurvy crew Of unkempt chaps: some in their saddles loll Like idle louts, catching at winks of sleep And dreams of far-off homes; some o'er the guns, For better chance upon those lurching beds Than saddle gives unto their tired hulks. Their horses wander widely as they will, Gaunt frames that once were steeds, now skins and bones, Seeking like starved hounds the chance to stay The desert hunger in that desert earth. Those caravans that troop o'er western plains, Mere odds and ends of folk, seem as war-proof As this dejected medley. -Then the cry Of bugles from the van, and random shots That ring from yonder wood, send spurring aides Bearing swift orders down the surging line. With the first note, as at the lanyard's pull That bids the shot away, those hulks leap up Into their war shape. Echo sends the call Back from the hills. Five score of veterans, Stern-visaged, nimble, gather round the guns, Each to appointed place. The horses swing Unto their stations eager as the men, Heads up, ears pricked, and nostrils flaring wide To catch the trumpet's note that sends it forth, 245 UNDER THE BANNER A firm-knit might of link&d beasts and men. This fearful thing 's a legion, where the dead Fight on with those who die; where comers new Slip into shades of those who fare swift on Into the shadow-land. Now flareth out The call from its own trumpet. See it whirl By the right flank away, crushing right on 'With roar that shakes the earth and stirs the sky In storm-cloud beaten from the parched earth, O'er fences, stones, and gullies, till the note Of trumpet swings it to overtopping hill, Into its ragged order; moment's whiri Of guns and men and steeds ere it is shaped Into the waiting silence'fore the rage Of storm comes on. The daunted foe draws back At stroke of fore-guard; back the bugles send The legions to the march. Once more those men Seem lazy brutes -no more. The sun is down, And all our host spreads out as in the sky The marching thunder-clouds in mists diffuse When the hot dav is o'er. Now from the vales And the far hill-tops twinkle the camp-fires Where lie those legions, ordered so they '1l stand At call in battle-lines. On every way And 'cross the fields the pickets watch the dark, And far through wood and valley sweep the scouts, To smite and hold the foe and send swift word That sets the lines for battle. All 's as safe 246 UNDER THE BANNER As brothers' faith can shape it. 'T is the time When men put off their arms, and once again Are lads upon a playground, or afar In homes where dwell their sweethearts or their sires, Or 'hap to those still places where their dead Sleep at the end of all their lifetime war; When he who goes observant through the throng, Seeking to read what's writ upon the page,- That which escapes our volumed histories,- May see the look on face that tells the man What woman makes and keeps to serve the Lord, Or 'hap old Satan- look of yearning heart For mother, sister, maid, that dims hard eves And softeneth those lineaments of brass War sets where was the man. Yea, like to death New come with peace, transfiguring the shape, Is the soul's stillness in those memories So calm, so far away, so in the deep Of the great primal, love. 'T is but a glint Of all that host of shinings that are seen Bv eyes that see in eves what makes them stars Gleaming in heaven's vault. Now for the sheen From off another facet of man's soul. Here in an empty sheepfold 'mid the weeds Once green and lusty, now like crackling straw That crumples 'neath th' intruder's feet and makes A sorry bed for those poor wretched shapes, The bearers lift the stricken, lay them down 247 UNDER THE BANNER In the good churchyard order, two and two, With space between them where the surgeons kneel To do their part. Swiftly the space is filled, And swift those men of mercy do their tasks, With the still look of those who seek to heal Or help the passer. Some are from the front, Struck down in little fights, borne in for miles By wearv brothers on rude litters shaped With muskets and with blankets, others packed As sacks on saddle-bow to 'scape the chase Of the on-coming foe, with brother's arms To hold them safe if 'hap life in them stayed. And with these, smitten in the shock of arms, A white-faced throng of those who in the march Have battled on against the fever's might, Fought its grim spectre, praying for the strength To wear once more the weary march away In hope of bettered morn, at last to fall Worn to mere shred of man. The lantern sends A moment's light upon each agony As the deft surgeon careth for the woe With whate'er may assuage, be it but sleep, The blessed sleep that wakes so peacefully In God's own morning. Now the light moves on, The stars look down into those weary eyes. So last good-night is said. Oh, ye who dwell Where youth and manhood, stayers of dear homes, Who bear the lightsome burthen of long years To set the world with blossoms and with fruit 248 UNDER THE BANNER In love and heritage of love, see them laid By their untimely graves, lone and afar From all that helps the passing look ye here On God's undying shame. Turn ye again The wondrous jewel of this life and see Another facet that sends forth its ray To glimmer merrily, an ancient sheen That 's lit the night for legions since they 've tramped This old orb up and down. Here are the men We saw about the guns, who presto changed From louts to veterans and back to louts, To tune of piping brass. Presto once again, They change to players. In that brotherhood Of jumbled men shaped by the legion's soul There 's wreckage of two troupes, whose trade went out When war set its grim comedy afield To hold the eyes of men. There, 'twixt two guns Set on the spokes and axles, they 've a stage Made of the wagon boards, contrived to fit Their frolic humour well, as like of old In barns and courtyards where the masters bade Their eager audience to see far Rome, Or to the elfin realms of fairy-land, Over the dirty setting of the play. Yea, this suits well To time and place. On either side the guns, The brass new polished, yet with their black maws Where harbours death, stand warders of the stage, Lit by the battle lanterns, Argus-eyed, 249 UNDER THE BANNER That serve the gunners when in dark they dance Their morris round them, or that light the shell When, held 'twixt knees, the steady hand cuts fuse So shot may find the foe; or show who's down And who swift takes his place. There's music, too, For with the host go fiddlers, flutes, and else To shape an orchestra. For audience, A shouting multitude that chorus sends To everv well-known song; applauds the part Of every player who acts to its mind, Else hurls him off the boards. Ye who have seen Smug congregations gathered for a play As yesterday for preaching, know not how The mimic life can stir the hearts of men Who roar on with it; find in it the torch To light them on hard ways. They 're nimble chaps, And set all in a trice so 't is prepared As swift as for a fight. The scene awaits The entry of the actors from the dark That serves as green room; now the first leaps in To roar the prelude- burnt cork and ivory That make the nigger; yea, they judge right well What fits the time and place, for place and time Are servants of that blackness fate hath sent To rob them of their day: and it is well They take it merrily -and like the shape That brought us Afric night, gives what it hath Of fun and frolic as it dances on Into the night it made. 250 UNDER THE BANNER 25I Welcome, Jim Crow! For all thou art a raven, thou canst sing As mockingbird 'neath moon; thou art no lark To carol up the sun; yea, all thou hast Of chortle in thy pipe is echo sent From ancient droning 'neath the lazy palms, Or mimic of thy masters. Yet thy soul Hath in it that dear note of primal days When first the brute looked forth and knew him man, With goodly earth about and light above, Dim and afar, and yet that light of heaven The realm first knew in thee. Howl out thy song And thrum thy banjo. When this age is writ And all its wonders counted, thou wilt stay The strangest of its shapes- telling what waits Of fate within those stubborn wrecks of time Which lie the world about, to block the path Of prosperous ventures. Our sins set thee here To do the tasks of beasts, and now we go To reckon our account and take fit doom Where shame pays its hard forfeits. Prance away Upon our stage ; it is all well with thee, Thy merry heart will bear thee ages on Amid the ruin that thy presence breeds In this fair commonwealth; and if it falls There in the wreckage, thou wilt prance right on In the old Afric way, and never know What went into the deep. 'Hap 't is thy part, Thine and thy like of changeless primitive, UNDER THE BANNER To keep the ancient substance of our kind, The flesh and bones of body and of soul, Safe in the garner of the baser life, So that those vagrants we name civilized, Those prodigals who waste their heritage In far and daring ventures towards the sky, May find a pauper's refuge in the hut These humbler keep for them. - He needs be grim Who looks on Jim Crow's face and turns away From its contagious grin, for there 's the fun, The immortal fun, that fences souls from deeps, Shuts out the infinite, makes actors all In the dear comedy. Jackdaws are grave And monkeys bewigged judges to Jim Crow, Who sends straight to our eyes the antic shape Of all men's doings. The prelude shapes the play; there 's nothing here But gibes and quirks and merry happenings In cracks and whacks, with now and then a song That arches spaces with the one word, " home," To still the boisterous throng. 'T is but a glint, Quick turned away, for those rude actors knew Their part right well: so once again the jeers At all that 's set above them, from the Lord To last whose won his straps. To hear the gibes And roaring echo from the listeners, You 'd think our host on verge of mutiny. It is the ancient way of all their folk, 252 UNDER THE BANNER To find their fellowship with gods and men In howled contention 'gainst all things that are; Profaning all their altars in their words, To die beside them faithful in their deeds. The morrow they will tread with willing feet Straight to their graves at bidding of the least Of those they scoff this eve -with never halt Upon the Master's way. Now the tattoo Slips from the bugles for swift way in air, Seeking the echo of the unseen hills, Bidding to sleep. So finds the play its end. The stage has vanished, as all stages do, Swift in the dark. The boards where Sambo pranced Are back into the wagons, and the lamps Are ready for the next dance by the guns When Johnny comes of night, and all the host That roared before the stage slips to the earth For the good sleep of merry weariness, The best that soldier knows. Three drum-taps ring, The lights wink out, and all our world is still, Save for the distant shout where sentry hails The wary captains, who search well the lines To see the ward is good. Such is a host Swinging across the earth to smite its foe With hardened legions. Yea, the might of men Is 'neath his banners in that forward march Straight to far purposes; yet, would ye see 25 S3 254 UNDER THE BANNER The greater majesty of fearful war, Go seek it in the sleeping camp where lies A nation's strength awaiting day's return To bid it forth to death. There on the earth In ordered lines a hundred thousand men Beside their arms betake them to God's peace; Turn for a while in dreams to far-off homes, To happiness that they have made a dream That duty's part be done. Walk down those lines, Knowing this sleep presages that to come, When in like order they shall rest for aye At end of all this battle-with the Lord, Merged in His host beneath the waiting earth. Here lies a grizzled fellow on whose face The watching moon shows touch of tears that came Ere weariness bore weary sorrow down Into forgetfulness; and here the callow lad Who was the wicked damsel in the play, Full of side-splitting antics, light as air, Sobbing his heartache with his face to earth. Here a fair youth that day made for its joy, To send its radiance into childhood's eyes, Starts from his sleep and wildly looks afar Into the night, moaning a woman's name; His troubled neighbours roar their brutal gibes Until he wakes and flings him back to earth To lie as with the dead. So on and on Ye may review the host and see them all The shipwrecked of life's deep, the castaways, UNDER THE BANNER Who watch the hopeless sea for lift of sail Until their lives go out. For in the march The brutal shape 's atop and hides the man From neighbours, - yea, himself, - so that we know Naught but his commonplace, the rags he wears To hide his shamefaced splendour; but this night Ye see this hardened villain that in sun Was sinner fit for Satan, know in him That mortal hopelessness, the very pit Where fate may grave the soul. Yea, as in death, The man who looks up into loving eyes Clean of earth's foulness, as if glad to tell To world he parts from what was in him hid Of God's nobility, so in this slumbering host, Empured in night's still spaces, we may read What's writ upon the souls all hid by day, That lifteth men above the realm of clods; See in this stalking horror clad in arms, Lit on by banners, glamoured by the love Of feebleness for strength and fear for deeds Of all-inspiring valour, Satan herds His troops to nether Hell. And now the lark Leaps from the flaring trumpets swift away To hills and hearts of men, and echo finds Alike in both, for morn is ever morn, With hope to lift the curtains and good joy To usher in the pageant of the day. The sorrow of the darkness is forgot, 255 UNDER THE BANNER And e'en the sorest heart knows why birds sing. Swift all 's made ready for the onward march, And ere the sun hath swept above the hills The legions swing them forth in ordered lines. So on and on the days soar up to noon And stoop down into night, until the earth, Burnt by stark drought, is now like Afric sands, A famished realm where they must thirsting go, Dreaming of springs, of streams where heaven sends Its glorious plenty. Yea, 't is hard to thirst Over a land that hath within it hid The wine of life; to know that 'neath your feet In cavern arches vast and cool and still Are noble founts that idly flow to sea, Leaving your life to starve. The pioneers With pick and powder break way to those caves, Searching those hidden springs, till 'hap they look Into those wondrous spaces where the deep Hath shaped its temples to the unseen God, Cathedrals vast that ne'er have known the tread Of weary sinners, nor have heard the cry To Him that stills all thirst. Far in those fanes Veiled by the stalactites they find a stream That flows forever; quick a line is made From the dark portal down into the deep, And swift the buckets pass so all may taste Once more that blessed drink and hie them on As famished as before. The march is hard 256 UNDER THE BANNER When earth 's at best, when in the laden fields Is plenty for the taking, and clear streams Plash from their fonts across each mile of way, Where you may drink your thirsty fill and thank The Lord who sendeth thirst and for it springs. That half a hundred weight, a soldier's gear, Is little to a beast, but to a man A sore accursed load, that bears him down As he tramps out the path to horizon Whereto his soul doth bid him. Where he fares Sore-footed, tortured from his head to heels, A plodding brute who does his master's will: Asks but to know his way. Yea, hard at best When sky bows down to bless; but when the arch Is of this brass that spans a desert earth With all its pastures withered back to dust, It is but blundering quest of weary men For place where they may die. Here every morn Brings day more famished than the yesterday; Here cattle, who know well the hidden springs In shadowed dells and where in parched streams There bides last pool, or where the lush grass stays, Moan out their life. See there beside the way Where was a lakelet full unto the brim, Set round with lilies, now a filthy pit, Mud-rimmed, with but a centre patch of ooze, And in that festering mire the shapes of men Who crept into it with the thirst they know 2S7 UNDER THE BANNER Who bleed of mortal wounds; crept in to drown, Their longing unassuaged. We'll now away For wider sight of that broad field of war. Come to yon butte, that in its castled steep Enwalls a far-up plain -land fit to be Acropolis to 'fend the realm it crowns Against the wide world's siege. It is the wreck Of ancient land that once stood in this air High as the summit; all else gone to the deep Upon the ceaseless march of earth that goes In the vast pageant trooping to the sea. From this still, far-up place, so high and lone That never beast hath trod it, where but wings Seek for a resting-place, we now look forth Over the war-worn plain and see how man Mimics his Maker in the rage to send What is down to the deep, to wreck fair lands That new may from their dust arise. Afar The sun of morning glimmers through the dust That hides its face. There, fifty miles away, On weary roads the foe is hastening south To 'scape the stroke that else the morrow brings From Buell on his flank. Here at our feet Tramp on the myriads of our mighty host, Striving to win the vantage in the game, Dust-wrapped as is the foe, for burnt-up earth At tread of foot dissolves in burnt-up air. Hear that vast clank of wheels and beat of hoofs, UNDER THE BANNER The lashing whips that goad the flagging teams, Curses and cries that spur the weary men To wear away the miles that we may come Timely to give the stroke; 't is so we win To save the commonwealth, right on through Hell. Thus o'er the desert, once the fairest land That ever lent its substance to man's need, As mother breast to child, these armies swing, Searching for chance to smite. Here on this steep, Parted from all that turmoil by the peace That dwells within the spaces, we would stay To wait the silence that will come full soon When all that tumult hath swept on around The arch of weary earth: here wait until The sky doth send its rain and life comes back Unto this stricken wild. But we must on, On with those masters till we scan their deeds In all their fell completeness. Still for days And still for nights this torment racketh on. Earth is a furnace, sky a lambent flame, Hearts are but cinders, and those shapes of men Cased in the sweat and dust are mummies old From Egypt's graves, where never cometh rain To loose them back to earth. The fields are fire; On them no man can rest until he 's dead. The soldiers dig the brittle sod away And lie within the pits as in their graves. They stretch them on the harness or the guns, 259 UNDER THE BANNER Hew down the sapless trees, and on the boughs Find blessed shelter from once welcome ground. The bivouac we saw where merriment Cloaked well its sorrow, and where blessed sleep Came like the dew to fresh the souls of men, Hath now but darkness where a ceaseless moan Goes forth unto the night. Still forth they send, Those changeless pipes of brass, their shout of morn So for the ages on they 've called to men Upon vour feet all ye who are not dead, Here is a day for duty ere ye die!" So forth they stagger, wondering how it comes Thev are not with the blessed who sleep on Waiting that other trump - how 't is that man Tramps on when life is out. There is no more Of blessed comradeship that balms all hurts With hand and heart. Each in himself is sealed By overmastering pain. Each stumbles on, And if his comrade falls, steps over him As if he crossed a stone. For 't is the time When all the man is worn out, and there stays Naught but the primal brute within the hulk, That ancient might that bears the soldier on As an automaton. Yea, they're the dead Who've strangely missed their graves. 'Tis now high noon Of that last terror God meant for a day; Those starved beasts are silent as the dead- 260 UNDER THE BANNER There ring no more commands to spur them on- And yet they onward surge as swings the shot, Though might that hurled it forth is echo now. Then through the host there sweeps a tide of hope, A rumour such as wildly springs in throngs, Born of their hunger, or now strangely guessed By senses hid from man while he is man, But native to the brute that he is now, In battle for dear life. 'T is that there 's hid Beyond yon wood that stretches to the sky A sometime river, and within its bed The pools for which they pant. The officers Catch quick the rumour know the host will break As maddened beasts straightway unto their quest; Know that the column will become a rout, With chance of planted foe beside that stream. Swiftly they swing the corps to right and left, Shaping a battle order so they'll on Formed for the stroke, if need of stroke is there; Then for a hard rush forward to the goal, Inhuman, blind, as when the buffalo, Long famished in the blasted prairies, scent In the all-holding air the breath of stream And rage unto it. So, new life in heart, The host breaks through the wood in open lines, Wave upon wave, confused as in flight, Looking a rabble, yet a rout that shapes Swiftly to battle front at bugle's call. The dried earth crackles 'neath their hurrying feet; 2 6 I 262 UNDER THE BANNER The tangles break before them. 'T is a wild That since the primal ne'er hath known of man Save when the lonely hunter silent crept Upon those ancient trails deep worn in earth, Carved by the feet of many a vanished kind, Mammoth and mastodon, whose footprints showed W\ay to the gentle deer. This shade hath known Ages of flight and chase in myriad shapes, Of brutal hunger and o'ermastering fear, But never yet this demon might of man In the rude front of war. While swift our host Sweeps through this ancient forest, as the tide Through the sea grass and tangles, onward borne By vast compulsion of the far-off orbs Unto its destiny, its mightv foe, In a like torment fighting hard for life, Hath caught the hope of succour in the vale- Of drink in Chaplin's Fork. They too strive on, Uncaring that they front the arms they've sought To 'scape by marches hard. For in each burns The thirst that he must slake -yea, if he drinks From Charon's boat on way across the Styx. So nears the last act of this tragedy, Where armies are the actors and the scene This ancient wilderness, wherein they tread Swift to the finish. Let us look away To see the stage where all this action ends: The wood is wide, unbroken save for vale UNDER THE BANNER Where, 'mid a strip of fields, the shrunken stream Trickles as tiny spring from pool to pool, Fed from the caverns in the nearby hills- A little island of fertility Set in that weary, famished, war-trod waste, Fenced by that forest from marauding bands And from the hostile sky by sunny springs, That deep earth sends to-day. See, there are homes Unstricken yet, with children by their doors, And pastures where are sheep, and kine yet know The goodness of earth's pastures: it is noon, So they are gathered 'neath the arching trees Or belly-deep in pools; drowse where the shade Of the great rocks gives harbour from the sun. Yea, 't is an isle of peace that breaks the sea, Set in its wilderness as that far height Whence we looked forth upon the rage that went A day ago unto its near won goal. See in that little valley where a spring, Slipping from 'neath a crag, endows a field With all that deeps above and deeps below May give to bit of earth, a cabin stands, Built of well-shapen logs that tell the care Of builder who had love within his heart And shaped of it a home. It is girt in By blossoms, kinds that have for ages sent Their kiss to eyes of women for the care That gave to them the day; so have they won From our dear mothers of a thousand years 263 UNDER THE BANNER Abiding loveliness; yea, as the bees The ages on have shaped the world of blooms From primal nothingness until it looks Content upon the stars, these mistresses Of the old hives of men have wrought these cups To be the chalices whence we drink love, Unknowing how immortal love hath shaped The wine and cup for us. A woman stands Amid the morning-glories with her babe Pressed to her heart, as she would stay the fear That dwells in her sad eyes as far away She hearkens to the roar that onward comes Like tramp of surge that fronts a mighty tide Clamouring unto the land. First in the east Far as the horizon the thunder beats, Then in the west it rumbles from the wood, Now dim and muffled like the quake of air Out of great organ pipes before the wind Hath waked their cadences: swiftly they change To the vast tumult of on-striving hosts, The cry of bugles, thunder of rude wheels, The captains shouting, and the roar of men Who look to near won goal. See in the east From out the woods that crest the gentle hills Leap the forerunning of the avalanche, The skirmishers, who, finding naught of foe, Dash forward on the run. And then the line Of the great thirsting host sweeps like the leaves 264 UNDER THE BANNER z6 Before the wind. Bowed, hungry-eyed, they go Like famished beasts and hurl them at the stream In the fierce lust of thirst. What was a might Of ordered legions that no storm of war Could break to tumult now's a maddened throng That surges to the pools. The first who come And cast them down to drink are trodden o'er By the insensate mob that rushes on: Yet in a moment comes the bugle call That wakes the soldier, swings him to his place To bide the order. Swiftly guards are set Over the precious founts, and details fill The canteens from the pools. Each has his share, A moment's slake of that devouring thirst The sea would hardly quench. Then as good life Comes back into their hearts, they look away Over that oasis and dream of homes They left enwrapped in peace in Georgia's hills, Or Alabama's vales. Yea, as they gaze Upon that lonely woman with her babe Held close to heart, they yearn to far away And are for time as men. She idly looks A moment on that host, then unto the wood That stretches to the west. As yet 't is still In its vast shadowy spaces where the sight Sweeps through the towering arches of the trees From day unto the dark. Then o'er the domes Of the great fane she sees the birds stream up UNDER THE BANNER In flocks unto the sky, and from the way That leads unto its shade leaps forth a doe, With fawn beside her, chased by panic fear; Within the sunlight it a moment stays, Looks wildly on the throng and back to wood, Then, as it saw to hope, straight on it goes Unto the woman, who with touch of hand Gives silent welcome while she looks afar. Then comes a throng of 'wildered beasts that flee, Swayed by like fear, unto the open fields From wonted coverts, seeking with the flocks Of sheep or cattle refuge in their plight. The freshened soldiers set them on the hunt, But quick the leaders read those omens true, And know a battle-line sweeps through that wild. The bugles flare, and ready drums whir out The assembly call, and swift the adjutants Order the lines to meet what on them comes. Quick to each point of vantage haste the gunls Unto the hills and gates of forest ways, And back of them the grey-ranked infantry, Dun as volcanic ashes. On the flanks Gather the troopers, with their squadrons set For 'whelming charge upon a stricken foe, Or for the stroke that halts his victory. It is a splendour, grimmest of this earth, Such ordered might that bides the coming storm, Silent, unfearing, trusting to the Lord And to the brother's faith; with hearts that turn 266 UNDER THE BANNER From sight of waiting death to far-off homes, Where bide their loved ones - bide and hope and pray Until the night shuts down. Yet with keen eyes And ears attuned they set them to their task, Hearkening the rage of that on-coming sea That 'hap shall 'whelm them. Now it roars afar A mingled sound of myriad feet that break Way through the forest tangle; captains' shouts Who strive to shape the host; wild cries of men Who see the glimmer of the open day Peer through the forest gates. Now forth it leaps, That tide of blue, broken as is the sea Striven through reef and tangle to the shore- Sweeps far into the open, sees the foe Ranked for hard welcome. Then across the vale Swiftly the mastering orders swing that rout Back to the forest verge for well-closed lines, Whereon the stillness of the spacious realm Comes as a shadow down. How oft the sun Hath looked upon this scene, where earth's good fields, Clad in His harvests, wait the rush of hosts To trample ruin where He plenty sends, And change dear homes to shambles! Look your last Upon this realm of peace that quick deep Hell Shall gather to its fold. There still are homes Where frightened women strive to hush the wail Of children in whose hearts the olden fear- The primal demon -springs. There yet are flocks That look unto those roof-trees for good ward 267 UNDER THE BANNER From ancient peril; blossoms love hath shaped Unto their beauty. Still the matron stands, Babe clasped to heart, and crouching by her side The doe and fawn - twin mothers in this wild Where God and man have bade them wait for death. She looks away as shipwrecked for a sail Over the 'wildered sea, as if she knew Amid those myriads there was one to stay Her heart in its sore ail. Those stern men look As men have looked, the hapless ages on, Upon the abodes of peace they are to stamp Beneath their ruthless feet -yea, they are still Before that Satan's altar that awaits The innocence it is their part to slay. They are the Devil's priests, yet they are men With hearts bowed down 'fore what he bids them do, Chained to his service by the will of God, In those strange gyves he forges for the souls That seek his purposes. Now comes the cry From out the trumpets hard, insensate shout That wakes the demon in the hearts of men, Sending that wave of blue adown the slope. Swift from the east the cannon answer, hail With shell and shrapnel that arch high in air, And swoop as hawks to quarry. From the west O'er the on-rushing wave our cannoneers Send like swift message, telling earth and sky That Hell is once more master of their world. 268 UNDER THE BANNER Now in a moment all the vale is wrapped Beneath a pall, as if those brutal guns Would from the heavens hide the work they do At bidding of their lords. Let us not seek To scan that torment; men may do this task That Satan sets them, yet live on as men; For the hot breath of action sweeps them past The horror of their deeds, to leave them far In the still spaces with their souls assoiled. But he who looks on battle with still heart, Watching the eddies of its fiery tides And reckoning their sweep, goes to the deep And shares its curse with Satan. Let us go For soul's empuring back into the wood, Where silent majesties lift up to sky Their offerings of peace and 'neath their arms Keep the eternal shelter. 'T is a step, And that volcanic roar is far away; The cannon's thunder and the muskets' crash, The maddened cry of men who close for stroke Straight at each other's hearts, are as the hum Of whirring spindles and the throb of looms Where legions spin and weave. Or where afar Comes chaunt of distant waters hastening down From the far hills into the waiting sea, Or hum of bees that tend their ordered hives And harvest summer for their winter's cheer. For in this primal temple all is shaped 269 270 UNDER THE BANNER Unto enduring song to hail the Lord, Though He hide far away. See, here's a nest Of mother partridge with her speckled eggs, Each with its miracle of life to be Hid in its tiny sphere. The mother comes Back from her flight with chirp to her unborn To tell them danger 's by. And there 's a hill Of ants that build their ordered commonwealth Deep in the earth and frame it to live on In stately shapeliness and during peace. Still from the valley sweeps the far-off hum, That throb of shuttle and the spindles' whir: Yon world of men is living as is this With the hard tasks of life. Lean down thy ear Upon this earth, so dry it seems as dust; Hark there the murmurs sweep -as in a shell We've picked up on the shore and listen to For wondrous tale of sea -of far down springs, Of far up branches swaying in the wind, And deeper yet the song of mother earth In glad expectancy of her great womb: The far down thunder of the mighty toil That shapes the lands to be, faint tinkling notes Of merry atoms as they dance away To find their place in garners where they wait As gold, or precious stones, or wondrous ores, That shall at touch of hand spring forth to serve The need of men to come. In all that realm UNDER THE BANNER 27I We know the Master's will, the Mother's love Shaping for life to be. Still from the vale Sways up that other song, so strangely set In its wild dissonance 'gainst this of earth, As angels' choir 'gainst that which roareth forth From the dark gates into the senseless void. See in that sunlit space are moths that dance Their weddings in the air. Each filmy thing Hath in its shape the life that ages on The mighty Mother's bred to bear her love And fruit in joy. When the twain lives are joined And the fair seed sent to good winter's care, They vanish in the dark. So on and on Forever goes the jocund round of day In this primeval. - Lend again to earth Thine ear and hearken once again the song. 'T is now from dust that once had shape in man, Whereto the dear life comes for memory Past all its wanderings in God's wide realm, So lit with noble stars; 't is but a moan - Yea, far away and faint, and yet so clear: Dear brothers of the day, bide in its light And shape it to life's raiment 'gainst the cold Of the deep spaces past the darkened gate, Where winter numbs the naked, who fare on As heedless wanderers who have no store From His all-giving sun. Come not as we Unto the Boundless, paupers to the throne, 272 UNDER THE BANNER To see the happier, vestured in His love And winged with mercy, hie them to their task Of shaping for His will." Now yonder vale Stills in the gloaming, so we'll turn us back Unto our brethren, seeing to the end Of the great tragedy, - the end that came While in this nearby wood the ancient stage Had love upon it in the noble play Of life that knows the deeps of earth and sky: How good e'en death at end of those fair days The Lord doth bid it to. Ah, what is here Forth from the portal of the wood we look Over the valley to the further hills, Upon a scene we know not. All is changed: As that fair city by the southern sea, Trusting the deeps, slept 'neath its arching palms Until the demon smote it, so those fields, And all they bore, have vanished in the scorch Of war's volcanic breath. Where stood fair homes Are smouldering ash-heaps; where embattled hosts, The scorched earth is flecked as by the leaves After an autumn gale - those ragged bits That once were men. How still and flat they lie! For when the life is out, 't is but a dot Upon the earth that living was a king. So from the portal of the wood. But on With all thou hast of soul to stay thy heart UNDER THE BANNER Steel-tempered mind that takes this living woe As if it were the deed of far-off days, Washed out by tears and faded to a tale That stirs our hearts but stirs them languidly- For nearer view of what shall scorch thy heart With sight of what is man. See, now we come Where lie the first that fell, rent by the shells As forward leapt the charge. They are but few- Mayhap three score-that counts not in a fight. The foe aimed high; it needed tenfold that To stay the rush and hurl the remnant back. Yet they've one gunner who can train a piece, For in this heap that was a man and horse- Now a strange medley they must grave as one- See, there are epaulettes that bear a star. This shows good practice, for a shot like that Will often shake a charge that would not mind Chance whack on one in five: the man should have His shoulder-straps for it. 'T is but two hours Since these men laid them down; yet here they lie As if they'd lain forever in their sleep, So parted are they from the glorious day, So far within the night. Now there's a space Where leapt the charge unscath&d by the fire, With here and there the fleck where some stout man, Slain with his comrades, battled on with death That he might die with flag near to the foe, Or 'hap when life was out he was swept on In the great surge as wave sweeps on a stone. :273 274 UNDER THE BANNER We see just here that Johnny lost the range For twenty seconds -that the best will do: When Satan on you comes, the steadiest Have eyes that blink the sights and fingers thumbs, In the nice business of laying gun. But here is plenty : see, so quickly strewn That for broad acres of this trampled corn You must step warily, or else you '11 tread Upon some bit that once knew it a man, That squirms beneath your feet unpleasantly. Now for some furlongs' breadth they lie so close They 'd serve as stepping-stones across a stream Wide as the Mississippi at its flood. You see that here the muskets did their work Great guns are but as toys until the charge Is on their mouths, and double canister As a tornado sweeps the host in air. The most are still, but here and there one writhes To free him from the dead that bear him down, So he have chance to draw at least the breath That sends him to the spaces. You would help To lift his burthens from him Nay, good man, 'T is but a drop you 'd save from this wide sea. He 'II find the way out sooner if he lies There as he fell. Yea, even now he goes To join his brethren. And here lies a lad In Johnny's ragged grey: a shapely boy, Scarce half-way through his teens. See in his hand A letter clutched still - 't was his last thought UNDER THE BANNER That passer-by should send it on its way. There you can help. To Mistress So-and-So, Sure it is for his mother. Here '11 be truce For pick and spade work, so you '1 have the chance To send the story to her; nay, better leave The poor heart to its hope for yet a day: Mayhap 't will quench in hunger 'fore it knows The hand that wrote is still. Here is a place Where charge met counter charge; you see it well, For here the mingled flecks of blue and grey Are flattened down; stamped into sunbaked earth By myriad feet, as to and fro the hordes Swung in the fearful rush. And strangely here White patches blotched with crimson, where we tread Softly as on a velvet matted floor Wherein the foot sinks with luxurious ease. Look close -they are the sheep that pastured here, Dear emblems of His peace. And now we come Upon a battery that followed up To stay our charge and send the cleaving strokes Upon the foeman's lines. Six weary guns, Mere wreckage : four with mouths to earth, And two that stay on shattered carriages. Between and under is a tangled heap That quivers here and there, and in the midst, 'Twixt two that stand, their captain face to sky, A lanyard in each hand, that tells he stood Last of the company, then hied away 275 UNDER THE BANNER In fiery chariot with comrades brave, Whom he blew from his guns. We've trodden far, And 't is a rugged path, such battled field, Where swift the soul wears out; yet we will on To see the finish of it: 'mid this woe, 'T will not be hard to die of weariness And the heart sickening that doth beg for peace, For all the hard mask that the soldier wears Looking upon his work. Here are the pools Whereunto strove the hosts, and here they lie At the won goal as drift-wood on the banks Where raging flood is by: a heaped wreck. There in the channel they are strewn so thick That the on-creeping stream scarce oozes through The cumbering mounds. Upon the further slope Where stood the line of grey there lies a ridge Skirting the path of stream, yea, as a wall, To show how like a rampart living stood The ranks were here laid down. So far the tale Writ in these shapes that in the noonday were The best the sun e'er lifted from the dust To fashion for earth's glory. Another waits For those who hapless 'scaped to bear this woe Until 't is wearied down. Theirs the sore task To shape this ruin so the morrow's sun May look upon the living, fit to do Like work before it sets. They 're swift at it: 2 76 UNDER THE BANNER A thousand bearers tread in ordered lines, As might the harvesters, across those fields. They scan and turn each heap with surgeon care To find a life to save. 'T is gently done With a rude skill, for well the veteran Learns when the man may live, when he must die. So they tread onward, leaving many there Who plead for succour, for they know right well The great Leech waits beside them. See them lift That mangled shape upon the stretcher's bed As tender mother careth for hurt child, Twist up the tourniquets, and trot away In careful haste to where the surgeons ply Their fearful task of saving. In an hour They '11 glean the living from this field of dead, Yet leave it laden even as 't is now. The sunset dies, but 't is the harvest moon That tends belated toil in all those fields Where happy folk haste in the summer's yield For winter's store. See there, how full and round Swings up that glory in the eastern sky. We know it stark and cold, a senseless thing, Save that it hath its light from during sun That by it sends here greeting and good help To those who labour on until their task, However sore, be done. There in the fields Upon the battle's verge a weary throng, Worn nigh to death, are delving in hard earth 2-77 UNDER THE BANNER The trenches for the dead. They may not wait The morrow for the task, for with the day Hard duty rides to bid them on the march Or to new battle-lines. Yea, and the sun Hath duty too by those poor bits of clay That best be done beneath the sheltering earth- The goodly office that sends back the dust To the vast store that feeds the life to be, Yet scanty for the need; that we deem vile Because it rends our shapes and those we love, And leaves but memory of all that 's been. We will to them and see this harvest home. How bowed and still they are who do this task! Save as the picks thump in unwilling ground, Or shovels ring upon the flints, 't is still As though 't was spectre's work. The trench begun, Swiftly the bearers lay their burthens in Close side by side, with faces to the sky, And in such order as their mangled limbs May take from kindly hands. As they are laid The fillers make the finish ; steadily, Yet with eyes turned away, they ply their task, With wonder if the morrow they 're to lie In a like grave. The most the bearers bring Are sorry shreds of what were once stout men For when the life-tide 's out, the shapeliest Are shrivelled up as seed-pods when they 've done Their fitting part. Yet now they bear a form - 278 UNDER THE BANNER One of those seldom whom death cannot smite Out of nobility; yea, he looks to sky As if he faced the deep as should a man Who knows his Maker's image is in him Deathless forever; and as those toilers stay Before that majesty, their task forgot, One goes swift unto it and casts him down, Moaning, on that still heart. You see how like The living and the dead: you know the rest As though 't was fairly writ. His comrades take The brother from his dead, and we fare on, Leaving the toilers to their ancient task. And as we wander aimless as the air, With step aside to let the burthens pass, And idle look at some new shape of death That starts from out the dusk beside our way, We happen on the ruin of that house Where stood the woman clasping babe to heart, When age ago we went into the wood To save our souls from Hell. All is away That gave it glory when we looked before: The flowers trampled as all else to earth That iron feet can batter heedless down. Upon the very threshold lie the dead, And 'neath them, dead, the mother doe and fawn That sought there shelter -else we might not know This shot-rent, blackened charnel-house the home Where love had made its nest. We enter in: The door is wide -we need not stay to knock, 279 UNDER THE BANNER For from the place all sanctities are gone, Chased forth by shames. It may be that this roof Under its dark will give us chance to rest Our weary eyes from that which lies without Beneath the harvest moon. See on the hearth Amid the embers flickers yet the fire About the vessels set for noonday meal. By it a woman crouches, lone and still, With babe to her bared breast. She heeds us not: Were we the Lord or Satan, she would heed Naught but the woe that slays her; so we stray, As he who trod with Virgil step by step, To scan those circles -looked down in the pit That lies the deepest from the light of sun, With frozen heart and limbs that would not stir For all his will to flee. Yea, what's without Is dav to this black night that here shuts in This lonely woman bowed beside the hearth That was her altar, hapless, innocent, Smote by the wrath of God. Now comes a stir To break the silence - measured march of feet, As those who bear a burthen; carefully They lift it to the bed, -her marriage bed, - The bed where came her babe unto her heart. They straighten out the shape and cross the hands, Weigh down the staring eyes -those helpless deeds Men do to one who passes. Then they go Forth to their toil without a spoken word, As if this world was by the time for speech. 280 UNDER THE BANNER She heeded not their coming -knew it not Nor of their going. Yea, but now she heeds, As if that presence called her. Then she looks, And fixedly, upon the dead, as if She had come back from far; she slowly goes, Lays her dead babe beside him, wipes away The blood upon its lips. Then she lifts up, Looks forth into the dark as if she saw In the Almighty's face, with right to scan, This foul pretence of mercy, justice, help, Sent to His servants of this stricken earth, And then she falls, the life out, to the floor. We lift her carefully and lay her down Beside him and the child; we see her breast Is riven by the shot that slew her child, But that she waited, hoping to the end, As women wait their loved. This is the end. Come forth and shut the door; step heedfully, For yet the way is cumbered. Though we see The harvesters are flitting with their loads Unto the garners, else this world is still, - Save for the thump of picks and clods that fall Upon the upturned faces, all is still,- Sleeping with stars to watch and summer moon, Full-orbed and glorious, pregnant with the love That lovers see in her. -s Nay, 't is a lie, A pretty trick to cheat us to our graves And cast us in them helpless at the end, 28 I 282 UNDER THE BANNER Setting this world with seemings of a God Where there bides only Satan. Past that door Is answer to all prophets in those dead Who tell this earth is shame." " Nay, good friend, Here we tread on with Satan masked as man, But with the sun up comes the Lord to chase That demon from the world. So ages on Ormuzd and Ahriman, in joy and woe, In love and hate, circle the sphere around. Yea, every orb that spins hath day and night, And some lack moons to tell that day endures Beyond the darkened round. Thus on they go, For eons on, dark smiting love and hope, Slaving God's angels as within yon door. So shall it be until the hearts of men - Men of this earth or men of farthest star Give judgement in this trial; cast their swords In one or other of these balanced scales, And Ahriman or Ormuzd to the deep. We may not doubt the end. That 's but a sham, A vagrant fancy, that finds in this Hell Else than its fiery blackness - clings to hope When reason bids despair. Let us be men \With hearts for it, nor palter with the truth, The sorry remnant of the good we dreamed The heritage of man." So we go on, Stirring the silence with our witless tongues, As men so oft have gone in battled fieids, UNDER THE BANNER With souls all hopeless crying to the deeps And vainly hearking to their emptiness. And as we go, With night-wrapped hearts that wait for glint of morn, A shadow comes o'er moon; midway in sky Front of another battle, vaster yet Than Satan sets on earth - these legions swing Swift mustered from the sea and sent away In marshalled hosts to sweep upon the lands. It is a mighty order; 'fore its front Stream out the skirmishers that swift explore The empty spaces of the desert air As if they sought a foe, and then the line Of lurid blackness, as a fortress wall With towered steeps and heights impregnable As the enduring night, from past the stars Were marching 'gainst the realm of things create. Now from its ramparts forth the lightnings spring, Waking to thunder all the over realms, Stroke upon stroke to mock the wrath of man. See there one falls as plummet from the sky; Not like its fellows in swift, zigzag search For place to smite, but as a messenger Straightway to do His service. Straight its way Unto that cot, an instant glory there, And then swift flames that tell the stroke went true Unto its bidding and its task is done. So opened heaven's vista in that night Unto our souls, and then its blessed rain Came with tumultuous joy to kiss the earth 28 3 284 UNDER THE BANNER Again to loveliness. - Oh, 't is long gone, But those who lived that night out, and who look Yet to the dark, have glory in old eyes Burnt there as that wild tempest swept away Death from a stricken land. Yea, they know well How in that storm the rivers roaring came From out the hills upon their way to sea: How all that tortured bit of earth was healed With floods that smoothed its graves and sent its wreck Swift to the waiting deep. And now our host, Caged by the raging streams, drinks deep, and knows How good is earth to be on, yea, how good To all who win their way out of that night. Ay, it is long ago; near all are dead Who trod that march and field -or friend or foe There found their graves in peace, and this hard world Has shaken 'neath the tramp of other hosts, And other women have clasped babe to breast In a like agony; and oft the moon, Helping to noble harvest, lit good fields Where Satan reaped; and hopeful years have lent Blossoms to deck their graves. Love shapes its nests Swift from hard ruin; so the sparrows build Of winter's wreck good cradles for their chicks, And men shape waste of battles to uplift Hope to new life. See on that stricken earth How brave the harvests hold up to the sun, Ripening for men to be, and all this air UNDER THE BANNER That throbbed with battle is now won to song, As sweet and low as mother's lullaby That hushes her babe's sleep to gentle dreams; Chaunting forever to the hearts of men Of valour that claimed death so men might live Upon a bettered earth. And as we list that hymn, Up comes the round of silent harvest moon Over the eastern hills, and far we see The bearers with their burthens of ripe corn, Great laden wains that creep unto the barns, While happy weariness beside them goes. And there a mother gives her breast to babe, By fireside where the smoking supper waits His coming home. -Yea, this old world is young. Its age and villainy are but the mask Of youth and love eternal, and its dust But seed that waits to spring -seed in the earth, Deep hidden there with death, invisible Save to the eye of God, until it lifts Once more from earth to sky. Take from the store A handful - search it through: all seems decay Mere wreck of things that were, that silent goes Back to mere emptiness of common dust. But lay it in the sun and let the dew Descend upon it, then it's all alive With might that soars to beauty, full of gems That hid them from the day that they might wait For day's good service at the call of God. 28 5 TOLD IN THE DARK YEARS after, when the graves were smoothed and green We saw new-laid at Perryville, and those Who took their shearing there had gone forth shorn Of this or that of limb to do man's part WVith what the Lord had left them, by a chance Upon a stage-top, drowsing through the dark 'Mid Cordilleran hills, two veterans met, - Ex-Johnny and ex-Yank, -and in the way Of those who talk in night, half-musingly, More to the spaces than attending ears,- For there 's no face to check with questionings And keep us to the commonplace of days,- They came on ancient quest of how a man May find his way out when he is against The outer blackness. Then once more was told The tale of captain who, amid his guns, His men all dead, his pieces gone save two, Fell face to earth, drawn lanyard in each hand, And so went forth on well-attended way. Then from the dark the Johnny capped that tale: Yes, 't was at Chaplin's Fork. I saw it done, For I was there before you. It was when We were with Cheatham, and we rushed those guns. Three times we tried it: thrice they tossed us back What did not go in air to rattle down TOLD IN THE DARK In chunks and rags upon the men behind. It's bad enough to have the front ranks slip, When you must stumble past; but when they fly Down on your head in pieces, it seems tough, And you are middling likely to light out. This time we waited for full half an hour, While twenty guns were whacking at his six. 'Twas near enough to see they pounded hard. Two pieces to the right and two to left Were knocked to finders. All his men lay still And they warn't possuming. So on we went, This time for certain, for his game was up- We'd break their line and win. But when we came To home stretch in our run with not a sign Of life in all that outfit, up he rose Upon his knees, that chap, between the guns That still stood in the centre. In each hand He held a lanyard, so we knew his game. Three times before we'd faced it,--gone right on Until we went up blazing; but the sight Of that tough captain on his knees was worse Than all his hundred dancing. It's black dark, You can't see heads of wheelers; but I see That fellow kneeling, white-faced as a ghost, His head bent forward, and his blazing eyes, When, fifty yards away, with all our shot Whacked straight at him, he tumbled; but he pulled Both lanyards true, and half our company Skipped in the fiery chariot. When 't was done, 287 288 TOLD IN THE DARK We turned him over -what was left of him. He did n't bleed - he 'd been dead half an hour, But waited for his escort. We forgot What we went there for-did n't do the trick Of right and left, to flank the broken line, But drifted back worse beaten than before. To have a dead man whack you's mighty queer; You 're good for nothing till you 've had a sleep - If he will let you have it. So you see, A dead man with the Devil can do more Than most who think they're living, if he 's got The righteous stuff in him." Thus, from the dark, The ancient Johnny phrased it- not so high Or wide as you would shape it, yet as true Unto this rude world's needs. THE CHANGE OF FRONT HOTCHKISS STORY IT is at Fredericksburg: the battle's raged From dawn till dark and on from dark till day. We Johnnies have a job to hold our line 'Gainst overlapping -task for wits and heels Five times our force; but we have both for that, For Stonewall Jackson's here. Now comes the word That o'er the Rappahannock, on the east, A force is crossing for stroke on that flank: Sent home, we'd have to scuttle. Jackson 's checked Like game upon our right, and now his men Catch breath and chance of victual. They must march Straight for this peril; for we 've no reserves For swift, sure work. Quick they are afoot, And pawing off those ten miles with the swing That beats the double-quick of his keen soul He on the very front, as is his way. Two hours and he's there to find it was feint, Already blown away. So he must back Where business was doing on the left, As told his soldier's sense. So right about The column swings to bugle, and the ranks Of eager hearts surge back without a word Or growl for wasted toil, for well they know 290 THE CHANGE OF FRONT They are his men in body and in soul. Each hath his glory, knowing well that he Is of a majesty. But with the change The front's now three miles off, and so old Jack Plunges o'er fields and fences, with his staff Lumbering behind him, to the leader's post, Where eyes may know of danger. As he rides, Bobbing like jockey, all the column halts, Finding it comic, roaring out the fun That tops all reverence: " Come in, old boy, The Yanks will catch you!" -" Don't you run away ! "- " Dad, here's the place for you right with your boys." So to that yelled compulsion back he comes Upon the road. The men cram to one side And bellow out their love in ribaldry, While he, cap off, bent low, rides as for life Until he wins the front -mops his wet face, Scarlet with shame and rage, and for an hour Is fazed as never on the hardest field. I 've often wondered what you Yankees thought Of that wild racket sent across the stream. You must have guessed that fifty thousand men Came up to our support: you reckoned right, For when they 'd had their chaffing, every man Was in his heart a legion for old Jack, To die a dozen times, if he 'd a mind To ask that trifle of them. THE LEADER'S PRAYER A JOHNNY S STORY AGAIN of Jackson: now it 's on a halt Of days on days: of yonder what it means That nothing's doing when all is to do To round out our campaign. This loitering Is not much to our minds. The idle men, Getting obstreperous, are full of pranks That with another lot tell mutiny. Till a shout From an observant chap to all the camp, A mot of order, -" Get a move on, boys, Old Jack has gone into the brush to pray." We all know what that means, and mighty quick Are frying bacon, writing letters home, Patching sore feet, or conning all our traps To find what should be jetsam in the sea With the hard faring. Yes, the rogue was right. An hour goes by, we see again that cap Peep from the sassafras, and then old Jack, Still-faced as priest, slips silent to his tent; And quick the bugler by it sounds the call That tells his soul is ready. Forth we swing The Lord knows where - maybe old Jack told Him, Maybe he did n't. But what we know right well Is Yanks are in for it, and that we '11 be Not quite so many when the job is done. THE ARTILLERY CHIEF HOTCHKISS STORY HE was the chief of our artillery, Well-trained old soldier, who had learned his trade At WVest Point and had practised it right well In MIexico. Most queer as to his clothes, Odd happening, the oddest was his cap, Shaped like a cohorn mortar- pointed front: Wherever fight was hottest went that cap. It stuck up like a steeple, so the boys Guyed at it worshipfully -watched in the smoke To see it bobbing round, and knew all went As well as could be while that cap was there. He cared for it, though careless of all else. Wohen spattered by a shell, he 'd have it off And brush it tenderly, press out the dents, And set it back before he looked to see What else had happened. So unto the end " Old Cap" was keeper of our trusted guns, And none were ever lost. Now came the day After the finish: Appomattox was One night behind us, and we were afoot To hunt our homes. 'T was in the early dawn, As I was making ready. By my camp Were parked those precious guns, and through them tramped THE ARTILLERY CHIEF 293 Alone, for last inspection, he who 'd been For those long years their keeper. Slow he went And sadly: bidding each old piece farewell: Scanning the gear to see that all was fit For what of duty 'fore them. When he came Unto the last, he lifted up the lid Of limber-box, took off the cohorn cap, Brushed it right well, then set it tenderly Within the case, shut cover down, and turned To take my greeting, looking old and queer Without his headpiece. " Are you going home" I said to him. " No, major: as you see, I have just left my home." APPOMATTOX: THE CONFFIDERATE'S STORY HOTCHKISS STORY WE 'LL lounged about all day in ugly mood. We knew it was the end, and knew as well We had the Devil in us that would take That finish to the pit. Marse Lee and Grant Nliaht fix it as thev pleased, but we would go Into the brush and give the Yanks their fill Of Mosby's fighting. If we could not have The land we longed for, we could make it Hell. We were still twenty thousand - five times that Were ready for the shindy. We might win The wav to Mexico our dads had trod And have a fair chance to lick out the French, Or maybe Greasers. So the talk went on; A11 were for mutiny, some for a dash As soon 't was dark, so we could keep our arms. We 'd scatter through the woods; there'd be no risk That we 'd be nabbed. Some would take their parole, Then skip off to the south to join the lot Who soon would join us. We 'd no time to think, And did n't want to. For all that we 'd had Of fighting, still our bellies were not full Of that hard victual. Fact was, we were men APPOMATTOX Who had forgot our homes, now mere machines For killing neighbours --that's a veteran. So all was ripe for trouble when there came Slow riding from the council our Marse Lee. We'd seen him bend in those hard years, and vet We'd never seen him broken and so old. At sight of him, our hearts leapt up; we went On a straight run for him: a fellow got Right 'fore his horse, and, lifting up his hands, Cried: cc Oh, Marse Lee, tell us what we should do." He drew rein; in a jiffy all were there, Caps off and still as mice -with ten-foot space 'Twixt us and him, and then a dead-tight pack For acres round. He looked on us awhile, Then said - it seemed a whisper, but all heard Men, I am going home; go you there, too. We 've fought a man's fight, and we still are men To do our part by fireside and our folk WJe have to help. The terms are generous, For they 're our friends who have been our brave foes. You keep your horses; you are free to go To find your homes or make them. Come with me, There 's still time for a crop." That warn't just it I disremember what he said. He warn't A cent's worth for a speech. But when he 'd done, Each chap had shout within him for his home. A lane was opened in the crowd: he went, Hat off and silently, and we held still Till he was out of sight - a-riding home- 295 296 APPOMATTOX And then we jumped to follow, as we 'd used When he showed us the way. We all forgot Of Mexico and Mosby: for we saw Women and children and a house that lay Out in the broom-sedged fields, and heard the cry Of a great welcome home. We laid our arms Right willingly; for now our fingers itched For hold of ploughtail. - Somewhere, I have read A lot of learning as to how it was That all that war was ended with a bang Like busted shell. You see now how it was: Marse Lee went riding home, and we went too Because we could n't help it. THE SOLDIER'S WAY I RODE with Hotchkiss, on an eve in June, Far down the Shenandoah- all the vale So lit with summer's hope that end of day Seemed as the morning, making naught of night That dwelt not in men's hearts. Scant twenty years Since 't was the path of war. But twenty years Is all an age for healing of rent earth: Babes wax to men and women, widows find Their rest with long-lost lovers, and the hills Forget the bugles' echoes, throb of guns, And the hard agony of men who die That commonwealth may live. We who were foes, Now close-knit friends, were nearer in that place By the dim shadows of forgotten war, To make trust dearer. As we onward went Amid the wheat-fields, oft he turned aside To scan some nook wrapped in the commonplace Of weeds or corn; then I read in his eyes Of deeds that men did there, but he was still. At length we came where Massanuten's wall Stands like a great ship midway of the vale, Parting that sea of plenty east and west. Here a wide field still bore the stamp of hosts An old cantonment with the heaps of stone Where men had built them hearths beside their tents, 298 THE SOLDIER'S WAY Now bramble-covered; save for paths, a wild, Deep trodden by their feet. Here my good friend Came from his silence -told me a strange tale Of his great leader, Jackson, one that tells What lit that thunderbolt upon the way To his swift smiting. " Here we were cantoned, Some twenty thousand, watching winter out, Soldered in mud, fighting for chance to keep Our bellies from collapse and what was left Of marrow still unfrozen. Bottomless Was every road, and what of victual came Wallowed to us afoot 'cross sodden fields, In cattle that we plucked as hungry wolves To hides and bones. Another day had worn Out to the finish in the weary round That promised nothing but the like to come From dripping earth and sky. We drowsed like cats Beside our smudging camp-fires stupidly,- Old Jack' the dullest, -till we crept to bed, To dream that two months more would set us free To lark it once again. I 'd slept an hour; Woke startled as he shook me - bade me rise; Stood waiting silent till I was attired, Then led the way to where a meal was laid; Without a word sat waiting till I 'd done, Then went with me to door where stood my horse And waiting orderly. Then the command: 'Ride down the range to cross-roads; there you '11 find THE SOLDIER'S WAY The force of Colonel M. Make sure 't is he; Give him the order " Forward."' Ere I spurred, I asked what next to do. 'Should I come back Here for report' 'Yes, straightway here.' I fought with night and storm until I bumped Upon that mounted thousand; worked to front, Lit match, and found the leader -gave the word; Backed horse into the hedgerow while it roared Northward into the dark. 'T was four o'clock When I won back, to find black emptiness Here where I 'd left that host. I lit a torch, Found how the footprints pointed, and rode hard, But it was noon before I made report Unto that mystery that looked away In speculation past the eastern hills." "And yet he trusted you, we know so well, You shaped his fields for action with your maps." Yes, yes; but we 'd a saying that he prayed Right carefully to keep his plans well hid From himself and the Lord. His was a soul Shaped for contriving silence. All his deeds Were their own trumpeters. His thunderbolts Were still as seed in earth until they leapt Straight to their purposes." :299 THE HAPPY RELEASE AGAIN 't is Hotchkiss' story. Of the host Never a gruesome tale, - such men forget, Or grave as deep as maybe in their souls, - This time the last one of the mighty store That Homer should have shaped. 'T was thus it ran: _ "The war was ended when the sun went down On Appomattox field. All through that night We packed our remnants, ready to hie home, To what was left of it in wreck and woe. My share was large: a worn-out wagon crammed With maps I 'd made for Jackson and for Lee; They were in tatters like our battle-flags, Muddy and blood-stained, ripped by many a shot; But they would win me bread in days to come, When railways, mines, and towns would have to be. I 'd all Virginia pictured for war's use, They 'd serve for peace as well; for 't is the eatth We need for business, whate'er it may be - Earth set forth clear and true. So I hied on, Full of glad hopes, to Staunton; found there home Gaunt as the rest; set my lean steeds to plough, And counted days until the corn would serve My beggar's state; and found now here, now there, Chance bit of work where my old maps served well. So the hard fight was hopeful, till one night THE HAPPY RELEASE There came a provost-guard, clapped me in chains, And had me straight away to Washington. Their captain, a good fellow, made it clear The charge was weighty ; -it concerned those maps Headquarters records- they had run them down After a six weeks' search; and so I stood Traitor and thief for trial, with slim chance To 'scape the threatened noose. I 'd been a fool Who 'd never thought it out. The maps seemed mine - Some made before the war, and all as near As my own hide to me. Then, while I lay Chewing that bitter cud of fear and shame And sorrow for my loved ones, came again That captain who had nabbed me for a word, A hard man's word of help. " See here," he said, "Next week they '11 try you, and your chance ain't worth A sou marque. Now Lincoln's dead, you '11 hang, For that chap in his boots is gone clean mad, And all the town is with him. You shall have A try with Grant, maybe he'll help you out. He 's a hard ticket, but he is a man Who sees things straight -knows what it is himself To tumble in a hole and wallow out As best he can." The plan seemed but a straw, And yet I clutched at it, with little hope, For I had seen that sphinx when came the end At Appomattox, when he met our Lee With iron face. " How will you manage it" " I 'II take you with a guard up to his door 301 302 THE HAPPY RELEASE And chuck you in. You '11 have to fight it out. Maybe I '11 catch it, but I '11 take the risk To give you chance." So forth unto Grant's place In the War Office, 'twixt the double files, Led by the captain, - passport for the guard,- A knock, a gruff " Come in," and there I stood Before that bear-trap face and searching eyes To fight for life. "Who are you " " Hotchkiss, sir, Sometime of Jackson's staff." And then behold A saving miracle! "Major, I 'm glad you 've come Yes, 1 've been looking for you for a month. Sit down, we 'II have a chat -take a cigar." " But you don't smoke " I said. " Never till then, But then most joyfully." " Major," he said, " I have a job for you: we need good maps Made right away of all the battlefields From Gettysburg to Richmond while they 're fresh. You know them best, you 've mapped them for your side Before the fighting: if we 'd had your help, We 'd saved a year of it. As for your pay, Call it three hundred monthly, rations in. Pick out your party. So it is a trade " I answered with a nod: I did n't dare To trust a spoken word. He shook my hand And went with me to door. There stood the guard, Saluting when it opened. "What is this" THE HAPPY RELEASE 30O3 "General, these men came with me; they wait here To take me back to jail. About those maps I made for Lee and Jackson; like a fool I took them home with me." " Oh, that 's all right: You kept them safe, they'll help you mightily. Here, captain, this man 's free; he is engaged For public service. Find my adjutant, He'll fix the papers up. Major, good-by, Your orders will be ready in an hour." THE BURIAL PLACE A HILL-TOP that looks far above the throng Of brother hills, and into widening vales Wherein the brooks slip onward to the sea. A place for castle in old war-worn lands When might was master: here, the silent hold Where sleep the dead in earth that looks to sky For the brave trust in all that dwelleth there. Here lies the dust of kindred, sire and son, Mother and daughter. Generations on Have here won rest and the abiding peace The summits only know. One tall shaft lifts, With lesser clustered round it as they group The children of a house about its hearth Before the time for sleep. Hereto have come An old man and a youth in ancient quest Of place for one more grave, where she shall bide Who long hath striven faithfully to serve God's will on earth. And as they silent go With look to far and near, that she may lie Where it is fairest, he, the elder, stoops Beside a gravestone where rude wheels have cut A deep, now moss-grown scar; and from the earth He lifts the shreds as though on them were writ Legend of ancient days, then looks away To read again the past they tell to him. THE BURIAL PLACE 'T is not yet two-score years, yet 't is as far As Trojan legend to the youth who hears How o'er this earth of peace tramped demon war, Treading its hills and vales with feet that scorched Their goodly life out; how of all that dwelt Out to the rim of sight, peace stayed alone With those who bided here in God's strong arms, Unheeding Satan's deeds. Now musingly, As one who tells himself the half-forgot That dwells in kindred heart, the ancient told The story of that time. " See there, my lad, Upon yon field, there stood our line of war, And there from out the south came on the foe For the hard grapple. 'T was a swift-set line, Ill reckoned for war's work, and place to spare This hill for what it held. Then to us came A master of hard deeds, who nothing cared For graves that are or graves that are to be When battle's work is on. Swiftly and clear Rang his commands. But first of all to me, To go upon the run unto this crest And place my pieces by this monument, Sweeping the highway yonder in the vale. Then in a moment, forth the battery Swept down the slope before it, broke right through The walls and fences, then into that gulch In seeming ruin, yet with gear unharmed And horses stout enough to pull it out, With spur and lash to speed them up the slope. 30S 306 THE BURIAL PLACE As whirlwind on they went, as whirlwind burst Into this place of graves. So came that scar Upon this column that shall bear the mark Until it goes to dust. 'T is all that tells Of that mad storm that went into the deep; 'T is but the graves that stay." THE ORPHAN BRIGADE EIGHTEEN hundred and sixty-one: There in the echo of Sumter's gun Marches the host of the Orphan Brigade, Lit by their banners, in hopes best arrayed. Five thousand strong, never legion hath borne Might as this bears it forth in that morn Hastings and Cressy, Naseby, Dunbar, Cowpens and Yorktown, Thousand Years' War, Is writ on their hearts as onward afar They shout to the roar of their drums. Eighteen hundred and sixty-two: Well have they paid to the earth its due. Close up, steady ! the half are yet here And all of the might, for the living bear The dead in their hearts over Shiloh's field- Rich, 0 God, is thy harvest's yield XWhere faith swings the sickle, trust binds the sheaves, To the roll of the surging drums. Eighteen hundred and sixty-three: Barring Sherman's march to the sea - Shorn to a thousand; face to the foe Back, ever back, but stubborn and slow. Nineteen hundred wounds they take THE ORPHAN BRIGADE In that service of Hell, yet the hills they shake With the roar of their charge as onward they go To the roll of their throbbing drums. Eighteen hundred and sixty-four: Their banners are tattered, and scarce twelve score, Battered and wearied and seared and old, Stay bv the staves where the Orphans hold Firm as a rock when the surges break Shield of a land where men die for His sake, For the sake of the brothers whom they have laid low, To the roll of their muffled drums. Eighteen hundred and sixty-five: The Devil is dead and the Lord is alive, In the earth that springs where the heroes sleep, And in love new born where the stricken weep. That legion hath marched past the setting of sun Beaten nay, victors: the realms they have won Are the hearts of men who forever shall hear The throb of their far-off drums. 308