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.