But as events travel faster than laws or proclamations, already in this war with Rebellion the two races have served together. The same breastworks have been built by their common toil. True and valiant, they stood side by side in the din of cannonade, and they shared as comrades in the victory of Hatteras. History will not fail to record that on the 28th day of August, 1861, when the Rebel forts were bombarded by the Federal army and navy, under the command of Major-General Butler and Commodore Stringham, fourteen negroes, lately Virginia slaves, now contraband of war, faithfully and without panic worked the after-gun of the upper deck of the Minnesota, and hailed with a victor’s pride the Stars and Stripes as they again waved on the soil of the Carolinas.
Along a river-side, I know not where,
I walked last night in mystery of dream;
A chill creeps curdling yet beneath my hair,
To think what chanced me by the pallid gleam
Of a moon-wraith that waned through haunted air.
Pale fire-flies pulsed within the meadow
Their halos, wavering thistle-downs of light;
The loon, that seemed to mock some goblin tryst,
Laughed; and the echoes, huddling in affright,
Like Odin’s hounds, fled baying down the night.
Then all was silent, till there smote
A movement in the stream that checked my breath:
Was it the slow plash of a wading deer?
But something said, “This water is of Death!
The Sisters wash a Shroud,—ill thing to hear!”
I, looking then, beheld the ancient Three,
Known to the Greek’s and to the Norseman’s creed,
That sit in shadow of the mystic Tree,
Still crooning, as they weave their endless brede,
One song: “Time was, Time is, and Time shall be.”
No wrinkled crones were they, as I had
But fair as yesterday, to-day, to-morrow,
To mourner, lover, poet, ever seemed;
Something too deep for joy, too high for sorrow,
Thrilled in their tones and from their faces gleamed.
“Still men and nations reap as they
So sang they, working at their task the while,—
“The fatal raiment must be cleansed ere dawn:
For Austria? Italy? the Sea-Queen’s Isle?
O’er what quenched grandeur must our shroud be drawn?
“Or is it for a younger, fairer
That gathered States for children round his knees,
That tamed the wave to be his posting-horse,
The forest-feller, linker of the seas,
Bridge-builder, hammerer, youngest son of Thor’s?