Desperate, frenzied, bewildered, blindly they fired
on their own;
Like reeds in the whirl of the cyclone columns and colors went down.
Banner of stars on the right! Hurrah! gallant Gibbon is come!
Thunder of guns on the left! Hurrah! ’tis our cannon that boom!
Solid-shot, grape-shot and canister crash like the cracking of doom.
Baffled, bewildered and broken the ranks of the enemy yield;
Panic-struck, routed and shattered they fly from the fate of the field.
Hold them? We held them at bay, as a bear holds the hounds on his track;
Knee to knee, shoulder to shoulder, we met them and staggered them back;
Two hundred and fifty and two, we held their mad thousands at bay,
Met them and baffled and broke them, turning the tide of the day;
Two hundred and fifty and two when the sun hung low in heaven,
But ah! when the stars rode over we numbered but forty-seven:
Dead on the field or wounded the rest of our regiment lay;
Never a man of us faltered or flinched in the fire of the fray,
For we bore the banner of Freedom on the Gettysburg hills that day.
Tears for our fallen comrades—cover their
graves with flowers,
For they fought and fell like Spartans for this glorious land of ours.
They fell, but they fell victorious, for the Rebel ranks were riven,
And over our land united—one nation from sea to sea,
Over the grave of Treason, over millions of men made free,
Triumphant the flag of our fathers waves in the winds of heaven—
Striped with the blood of her heroes she waves in the winds of heaven.
Tears for our fallen comrades—cover their graves with flowers,
For they fought and fell like Spartans for this glorious land of ours;
And oft shall our children’s children garland their graves and say:
“They bore the banner of Freedom on the Gettysburg hills that day.”
[After the Battle of Gettysburg.]
Float in the winds of heaven, O tattered Flag!
Emblem of hope to all the misruled world:
Thy field of golden stars is rent and red—
Dyed in the blood of brothers madly spilled
By brother-hands upon the mother-soil.
O fatal Upas of the savage Nile,[CT]
Watered with bitter tears and sending forth
Thy venom-vapors till the land is mad,
Thy day is done. A million blades are swung
To lay thy jungles open to the sun;
A million torches fire thy blasted boles;
A million hands shall drag thy fibers out
And feed the fires till every root and branch
Lie in dead ashes. From the blackened soil,
Enriched and moistened with fraternal blood,
Beside the palm shall spring the olive-tree,
And every breeze shall waft the happy song
Of Freedom crowned with olive-twigs and flowers.
Yea, Patriot-Flag of our old patriot-sires,
Honored—victorious on an hundred fields
Where side by side for Freedom’s mother-land
Her Southern sons and Northern fighting fell,
And side by side in glorious graves repose,