by Anonymous

Five Zouaves killed! -- one thousand in all -- 
   Five from a thousand? Then he may be one.
If in the havoc of bayonet and ball,
   So many were killed, one may be my son.
   And death, to the boy, all the glory he won.

Death! Yes -- a life wasted -- warm blood spilled in vain --
   God! that a coward should lead on the brave
To the jaws of destruction, where balls fell like rain.
   "They made the charge steady!", well, what was to save
   The gallant Zouaves from defeat and the grave?

O! that is what hurts me. I know he was bold.
   And in his last letter he spoke of the hope
Of saving his country - and cheerfully told
   How he bore his privations - was anxious to cope --
   With the enemy's force at the battery's slope --

That to die for one's country is glorious and good,
   And he grudged not one drop of his blood that must flow --
And no more did I, if I knew that he stood
   With a leader as brave, face to face with the foe --
   But to follow a coward! O God! It hurts so.

"They had taken the battery," so read the dispatch --
   One moment of victory, then to retreat
From the backs of the foe they were ready to catch --
   O! fool of a leader -- dishonored -- to cheat
   Those brave men by making their triumph defeat.

Well, what is a soldier? A tool, a machine --
   To be marched -- to be fought -- to be killed --
When the hot cannon balls come crashing, between
   The ranks of our sons, dealing death, is it not
   A worse doom than defeat to stand still and be shot?

Another dispatch from Great Bethel -- thank God --
   He is safe. But what then? Those Zouaves fell,
And the footstep of sorrow on some hearts has trod.
   If not mine. If our country to save they must spill
   The blood of their sons, why not my son's as well?

The Zouaves in action at Big Bethel (sketch by Thomas Nast).