Although dated August 13, 1862, just before the beginning of the Second Manassas campaign, this poem was not published until 1866, when it appeared in Richmond: Her Glory and Her Graves. According to Lee Steinmetz, writing in The Poetry of the American Civil War (Michigan State University Press, East Lansing, 1991, p. 82), the poet "conforms to a popular Southern literary tradition in praising the fallen dead while at the same time reflecting a somewhat nostalgic but nonetheless intense love for Southern cities and Southern soil. Apparently Southern poets, very shortly following the war, understood that the War...was to mark the close of a distinct way of life. 'Virginia's Dead' thus becomes at once an elegy for the soldiers of the Confederacy and, by implication, for the South itself."

Interestingly enough, in naming the Confederate States, the poet includes two that never managed to secede completely (Missouri and Kentucky had both Confederate and Union governments throughout the War) and leaves out Arkansas, which seceded May 6, 1861.

"Virginia's Dead"

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Last modified 18-April-2001