This poem first appeared in London's Once a Week and was datelined "From the Once United States." It has also been published as "Civil War" and "The Fancy Shot." By any name, it is a grim reminder of a tale too often told in a war that set brother against brother.

The word "handsel" used in the third verse is a now-obsolete term that means "to inaugurate with a token or gesture of luck or pleasure." Ironically, the item that the captain chose to celebrate his rifleman's first "kill" was the locket that his brother's wife had given him on the occasion of their marriage -- a gift that was often referred to as a handsel ("a token given upon someone's entering upon a new condition").

"Civile Bellum"