By Fred Willoughby
July 12, 1865. Vol. 1. No. 40. Page 1
A regiment recently returned home to be mustered out of service. As the weary looking veterans marched down the busy street, with the remnants of the dear old flag fluttering in the sultry air, the windows of every building were alive with beaming faces, and the sidewalks, to the very curb-stones, were thronged with people, cheering loudly, and eager to grasp the hands of the returning soldiers. At the window of an humble dwelling, a little golden-haired girl stood, raised on her very tip-toes, so eager and pleased was she to see the war-worn veterans, for she expected to find her father among them.
On the morning of that day a soiled and much worn letter was placed in the hands of the little girl’s mother, which, when the seal had been broken, imparted the heart-rending intelligence of her husband’s death! What wonder is it that she sobbed in brokenness of heart, even when the town was crazed with joy! And when the little girl’s prattle sounded in her ear, how keenly it must have stabbed her heart; and how bitter was the thought that, while other homes were soon to be brightened with the presence of a dear husband, father, brother, friend, hers was to be a place of mourning!
They are coming, mother, coming! I can hear their merry feet
Ringing out upon the pavement, sounding loud upon the street;
I can hear the drums a-beating, and the fifes a-piping loud,
And the people all are shouting!—such a happy, happy crowd.
Running out to greet the soldiers back form battle-field and camp—
Can’t you hear them cheering, mother? Don’t you hear the steady tramp?
They are coming round the corner, filing down the avenue;
Oh, how tired they are looking, and how worn their suits of blue!
And how tattered is the banner! Mother, only come and see,
For it must be father bearing it, you know he wrote that he
Was a Color-Sergeant, and his flag was almost wholly gone,
It had been through scenes so dreadful, where the men have fought so long!
You are weeping, mother, sobbing, whereas I’m so very glad,
I could almost shout with rapture, yet you seem to feel so bad!
Tell me why your tears are falling, and why all the morning pale;
Did that worn and crumpled letter tell a sad and cruel tale?
Yet you kissed and hugged it gladly when the postman gave it you.
But the moment you had read it strangely sorrowful you grew!
It is queer you are so silent when the town is mad with joy,
Don’t you hear the bells a-ringing and the men and children cry?
Till the very air is shaking with a long and loud huzza;
They are all so very happy that the men are home form war;
All are wild and merry, mother, save you, won’t you tell me why.
Ever since you read that letter, you have never ceased to cry!
Now the weary men are marching past the window, by the door,
“Tis the regiment, the very one whose banner father bore,
But another, He’s a stranger holds the remnants in the air,
He is taller, is not bearded and is younger and more fair;
And I do not see him with them, nor can’t I even trace
Anyone that looks like father that could wear his smiling face!
Oh, my throat seems choked with anguish, welling upward from my heart
And a something makes me shudder-there’s an inward, cruel smart!
I can guess the reason; mother why to bitter grief you yield—
Father is not with the soldiers, They Have Left Him on the Field!—
Oh, ‘tis pitiful, ‘tis dreadful, when the town is wild with joy,
We must stifle thoughts of gladness, we must only sob and cry!