THE PRIDE OF BATTERY B by Frank H. Gassaway

South Mountain towered on our right, Far off the river lay, And over on the wooded height We held their line at bay. At last the mutt'ring guns were stilled, The day died slow and wan. At last their pipes the gunners filled, The Sergeant's yarns began. When,--as the wind a moment blew Aside the fragrant flood Our brierwoods raised,--within our view A little maiden stood. A tiny tot of six or seven; From fireside fresh she seemed. (Of such a little one in heaven One soldier often dreamed.) And as we started, her little hand Went to her curly head In grave salute; "And who are you?" At length the Sergeant said. "And where's your home?" he growled again. She lisped out, "Who is me? Why, don't you know? I'm little Jane, the pride of Battery B. "My home? Why, that was burned away, And pa and ma are dead, And so I ride the guns all day Along with Sergeant Ned. "And I've a drum that's not a toy, A cap with feathers too, And I march beside the drummer-boy On Sundays at review. "But now our bacca's all give out, The men can't have their smoke, And so they're cross--why, even Ned Won't play with me and joke. "And the big Colonel said to-day-- I hate to hear him swear-- He'd give a leg for a good pipe Like the Yanks have over there. "And so I thought, when beat the drum, And the big guns were still, I'd creep beneath the tent and come Out here across the hill. "And beg, good Mister Yankee men, You'd give me some Lone Jack. Please do--when we get some again I'll surely bring it back. "Indeed I will, for Ned, says he, If I do what I say I'll be a general yet, maybe, And ride a prancing bay." We brimmed her tiny apron o'er; You should have heard her laugh As each man from his scanty store Shook out a generous half. To kiss that little mouth stooped down A score of grimy men, Until the Sergeant's husky voice Said "'Tention, squad!"--and then We gave her escort, till good-night The pretty waif we bid, And watched her toddle out of sight-- Or else 'twas tears that hid Her tiny form--nor turned about A man, nor spoke a word, Till after while a far, hoarse shout Upon the wind we heard. We sent it back, then cast sad eye Upon the scene around. A baby's hand had touched the tie That brothers once had bound. That's all--save when the dawn awoke Again the work of hell, And through the sullen clouds of smoke The screaming missles fell, Our Gen'ral often rubbed his glass, And marvelled much to see Not a single shell that whole day fell In the camp of Battery B.

Soldier Life