March 1, 1865. Vol. 1. Nol. 22. Page 4
Beneath that traitor flag defiant flying,
And watched by guard that glory in their sighing,
Ten thousand of our brother braves lay dying.
Men, nobles,--but a year ago they came
From friends who lisped in love their every name
To fan Rebellion back through fields of flame.
They earned a kind captivity, but fell
‘Mid foes too mean to treat a foeman well,
Proud of their honor---leagued in hate with hell.
And so our heroes, by their craven hand
Stretched like chained lions on the Southern sand,
Die of slow torment in a Christian land.
No shelter know the sufferers; bolder ones
Daring to seek it, scorched by Georgian suns,
Drop on the dead-line ‘neath the warders’ guns.
No rest! The lazar filth, the charnel-ooze,
A horrid couch they cannot shun nor choose,
Beneath receives them when their strength they lose.
No raiment! Bare to shame from head to heel,
Save rags their captors deemed too poor to steal,
Their wasted limbs the misty winter feel.
No food—or worse! The carrion vulture’s craws
Would spew the slimy dole each prisoner draws,
Flung rotten-ripe from Hate’s hyena claws.
No water! Thick with their own ordure creep
The scanty runs that cross their sloughy keep,
Till their dead bodies dam them heap on heap.
No breath! A myriad mouths that gasp for air,
Shrink at the still putrescence reeking there,
And choke in foulness more than life can bear.
Humanity! There are no pitying tears,
Nor feeling hearts, nor wholesome, godly fears,
Where Slavery’s damning fester grows for years.
Ah, yearning kindred, helplessly afar,
Question the lightning-wire, the whirling car,
And weep, unanswered, at the fates of war!
Unanswered, save to learn the gifts ye sent
To warm and comfort friends in bondage, went
No farther than some thievish jailor’s tent.
Yet faint not wholly. Stay your hearts in hope;
For from the womb of death your lost cry up,
“Father, our sufferings! Bless the bitter cup!”
They shall not cry unheard! Though crushed awhile,
Their voice shall run to earth’s remotest mile,
Telling the deeds of Libby and Belle Isle,
And Danville, Anderson and Macon, made
For torture strong with castle and stockade,
Shall have their bloody work to Heaven displayed.
Till universal man, in wrath descrying,
Spurn from the fiend whose spite, and lust, and lying,
Could bind and leave ten thousand brothers dying.
Ten thousand! Aye, if God the dead restore
From graves already ‘neath their dungeon floor,
Shall start to judgment twenty thousand more.