APRIL 20, 1864 by Private Miles O'Reilly

Three years ago to-day We raised our hands to heaven, And on the rolls of muster Our names were thirty-seven; There were just a thousand bayonets, And the swords were thirty-seven, As we took the oath of service With our right hands raised to heaven. Oh 'twas a gallant day, In memory still adored That day of our sun-bright nuptials With the musket and the sword. Shrill rang the fifes, the bugles blared, And beneath a cloudless heaven Twinkled a thousand bayonets, And the swords were thirty-seven. Of the thousand stalwart bayonets Two hundred march to-day; Hundreds lie in Virginia swamps, And hundreds in Maryland clay; And other hundreds, less happy, drag Their shattered limbs around, And envy the deep, long, blessed sleep Of the battle-field's holy ground. For the swords--one night, a week ago, The remnant, just eleven, Gathered around a banqueting board With seats for thirty-seven; There were two limped in on crutches, And two had each but a hand To pour the wine and raise the cup As we toasted "Our flag and land!" And the room seemed filled with whispers As we looked at the vacant seats, And, with choking throats, we pushed aside The rich but untasted meats; Then in silence we brimmed our glasses, As we rose up--just eleven, And bowed as we drank to the loved and the dead Who had made us thirty-seven!

Soldier Life