January 11, 1865. Vol. 1. No. 15. Page 4
‘Twas night, a dark but peaceful one,
And o’er the bivouacked lines a quiet laid:
All day the scorching Southern sun
Had strove to pierce the pines and banish shade.
Near by a tree, on dewy ground,
A camp-fire blazing bright, strange shadows cast
On faces three: and forms around
Fantastic glow in sudden light, and flicker past.
The first, a merry, bright–eyed youth,
The boyish drummer brave, whose features fair
Ingenuous wore the stamp of truth
A mother’s teachings gave, reposed him there.
The next, an old and thoughtful man.
A veteran to the triumph blast of War:
The other, o’er whose brow there ran,
Half hid by clust’ring curls, a long red scar.
“How came it, George,” the eldest said,
“That one as young as thou hast left thy home!
What could have thus thy footsteps led?
So far away to scenes like these to roam?”
The Drummer answered—“Not for fame.
My home I left the warlike drum to beat,
My country called me, and I came,
Though sad the parting was, with willing feet.”
“But tell us,” said the Drummer fair,
“How you with loving wife and children dear,
Could leave them all, so lonely there,
For chance of war? Had you no silent fear
That never more on earth you’d meet them?”
“Like you, my boy, I heard my country’s call—
And should I here below ne’er greet them,
In Heav’n I shall, and God will keep my all.”
A silence followed, when the third,
Unquestioned, half reluctant, sadly said,
“I came, but not because I heard
My country’s call—my ears to Fame are dead
The one I loved was false, untrue.
I could not bear to see her as a bride,
And not as mine, and thus with you,
To-night, a soldier sits by your side.
Some foe-man’s bullet, swiftly sped,
May find within my heart a resting place
If so, and either see me dead,
Tell her I bravely fell, toward the foe my face.”
No more was said. The weary three
Their blankets spread in silence on the dewy ground
The waning camp-fire ‘neath the tree,
With fitful light soon saw them sleeping sound.
The morning dawned, the foe was near,
And soon the noise of battle filled the sky.
At eve it ceased. The moonlight clear
Shone mildly on three forms each other night.
The one, a Drummer, fair and young:
The next, an old man grasping at the air;
The last, whose brow, with curls o’er hung,
A scar displayed. The dead were lying there.