CHICKAMAUGA by Mollie E. Moore

The sharp, clear crack of rifles, and the deep Loud thunder of artillery; the flash Of bayonets, and the arrowy sweep Of keen-edged sabres; the most fearful clash Of meeting squadrons, and the pride Of hostile banners! How they fought who died By the River of Death! Morn dawned upon the field, the bugle's blast Wound out its shrilly summons and the word Leaped down the lines, and fiery hearts beat fast: Two gallant armies bared the murderous sword, And fearless breasted battle's bitter waves, And eager thousands sought their nameless graves By the River of Death! And many eyes grew dim; the labored breath Fled many a young and gallant breast; And many an arm grew rigid there: but Death Urged on the carnage, and they knew no rest, Those panting hosts. Our banner kept its pride, But its blood-stained stars tell how they fought who died By the River of Death! And Texas' fearless sons were there: they bared Their bosoms to the shock and met the tide, As their own forests meet the storm; they dared Their splendid foe with all his bannered pride: Their hearts were in the struggle, for they thought Of their free fair homes in Texas, as they fought By the River of Death! His heart beat high amid the deepening strife, That stalwart Texan's heart! His manly breast Caught in his veins a new, a holy light. As on that reeking plain, where crest met crest, A thought of Texas, with her lovely plains, Came o'er his heart like music's soothing strains , By the River of Death! The free fair plains of Texas and her hills With rich dark valleys sleeping soft between; Her moss-hung forests and her willowy rills, Her streams like silver in the noonday sheen;-- The free, fair plains of Texas! how the thought Of all their beauty nerved him as he fought By the River of Death! His boyhood's home amid the shadows lying, Beneath his own, his sunny western skies! His mother and his sisters! 'Mid the dying How is it that a new fire lights his eyes, As these thoughts weep like lightning through his breast? . . . .The day drags on: the strong arms know no rest By the River of Death! By the River of Death! 'Twas there he fell As only Freedom's own can fall! his eye Still lit with triumph, and his heart, as slow It ceased its own faint earth-born melody, To battle's raging chorus keeping time -- The "infinite, fierce chorus" -- that mad chime By the River of Death! A single thought o'ershadowed him, his eye Grew troubled for one moment, then 'twas o'er -- "His fair young wife. his dark-eyed boy, to die Far from them!" The cannon's lordly roar Broke on his ear, his eye caught back its pride, His lax hand grasped his falling gun: he died By the River of Death! He died, and night with clouded skies looked down Upon his burial. The torch-light red Glared fitfully about; they gathered 'round, His comrades, sadly silent near the dead. They wrapped him in his blanket,--song nor prayer Awoke the stillness, as they laid him there By the River of Death! Buried upon the field! 'Tis meet, for why Should warriors rest where peaceful churchyards are? Why should they sleep where battle's trumpet-cry Was never heard, nor breath of glorious war? Upon their field of glory, on the plain Where Death's strange voice hath hushed the noble slain, There let them lie. At home, the sweet young wife droops like a flower, His prattling babe hushed sadly by her knee-- His boy, his laughing boy, whose earthly dower Is fatherless childhood! Ah, the sunbeams flee That darkened hearth, and free the shadows stray, Shadows born there since that fateful day By the River of Death! The camp-fire in the distant wood gleams red, The soldiers group about the ruddy light, And count in softened tones the noble dead -- The dead! "It thinned our ranks so, that last fight! The brave who fell like brothers, side by side!" And then his comrades tell how well he fought, who died By the River of Death!

Soldier Life

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Last modified 18-April-2001