The Unknown Blue and Gray


The little green tents where the soldiers sleep,
And the sunbeams play and the women weep,
Are now covered with flowers today;
And between the tents walk the weary few,
Who were young and stalwart in sixty-two,
When they went to war away.

The little green tents are built of soil,
And they are not long and they are not broad,
But the Soldiers have lots of room;
And the soil is part of the land they saved,
When the flag of the enemy lustily waved,
The symbol of dole and doom.

The little green tent is a thing divine;
The little green tent is a country’s shrine,
Where patriots kneel and pray;
And the brave men left, so old, so few,
Were young and stalwart in sixty two,
When they went to the war away!

Comrade Peck.

The Carroll Herald (Carroll, Iowa) Nov 25, 1925


There are unknown graves in the valleys
That the troops of war possessed,
Where the bugles sounded for rallies,
But the bullets sang of rest;
And the mountains hold without number
Hidden graves from war’s made day
Where the unknown men have their slumber
In their shrouds of blue and gray.

And no drums will rumble and rattle
And no fifes blow sharp and shrill
In the valleys that knew the battle,
Nor atop the lone high hill;
But the silent stars know the story
And the broad sky of the day
Bends and whispers low of their glory
To these men of blue and gray.

And no banners o’er them are waving
No marches come and pause
With cheers for the land of their saving
Or tears for their lost cause;
Yet the twilight stars intermingle
With the hues when ends the day,
And the striving flags now are single
O’er the men of blue and gray.

There are unknown graves in the thickets,
On the hillside and the plain,
Of the missing scouts and the pickets
Yet they did not fall in vain.
Though their names may not be engraven
And their places in the fray,
In our hearts now each finds a haven,
They who wore the blue and gray.

For the God of battles is kindly
With none of mankind’s hate
That is cherished even so blindly —
And these pawns of warfare’s fate
Have their tombs of nature’s splendor
Each set forth in proud array
Through an impulse holy and tender,
Though they wore the blue and gray.

Where once were the guns that wrangled
Sounds the peace song of the thrush,
And the roses and vines are tangled
In the solemn, sacred hush;
Where the cannon one day would hurdle
Their missiles in the fray
Grows the rue and the creeping myrtle
O’er the graves of the blue and gray.

They are nature’s hands that are strewing
The flowers on each mound;
It is God’s own beautiful doing,
That each unknown grave is found
Where the cypress leaves are ‘aquiver
Where peaks lift through the day,
Where the forest sighs to the river
Of the unknown blue and gray.

— Wilbur D. Nesbit.

The Carroll Herald (Carroll, Iowa) May 27, 1914

Wilbur Dick Nesbit wrote quite a bit of  poetry etc., much of it geared toward children.  The above image is one of his books. (Google book LINK.)


(By Joseph Mills Hanson.)

This sabre-cut on my forehead scored?
I picked it up at Beverly Ford
The day we turned “Jeb” Stuart’s flank
And hurled him back from the river bank.
It was parry and thrust with a hearty will
As they fought for the guns of Fleetwood Hill,
While over the fields and through the pines
Backward and forward surged the lines;
Twelve thousand men in a frenzied fray,
Charge and rally and made melee, —
Oh, the crash and roar as the squadrons met,
The cheers and yells, — I can hear them yet!
But we’d forced the fords, so our work was done,
And we galloped away ere set the sun.

This welt of a bullet across my arm?
It’s a scratch I caught at McPherson’s farm
That morning our outposts chanced to strike
Hill’s solid corps on the Cashtown Pike.
Hour by hour our thin ranks stood
Stubbornly holding each fence and wood,
Till, down the road where the wheat fields grew
And the spires of Gettysburg pierced the blue,
We saw a column of dust arise,
A welcome sight to our anxious eyes,
And into the hell of the battle’s roar
Reynolds marched with the old First Corps;
But the field where the rebel flood was stayed
Was held by the stand that Buford made.

This limp I got as my horse when down
When Fitz Lee ran us through Buckland town.
Out of the woods with a spurt of flame,
Driving backward our van, he came.
Custer struggled to turn the thrust
But they whirled him off like a fleck of dust;
Davies, shattered in front and flanks,
And off we scampered, like boys at play,
Over the hills and far away.
Crack! A shot through my good steed’s knee,
Down he tumbled on top of me,
And I crawled to a thicket, right glad to lie
Till the jubilant rebels had thundered by.

This scar on my neck was a bayonet blow
From a stalwart Johnnie at Waynesboro,
Where we routed Early from hill to hill
And tossed him over to Charlottesville,
Clearing the valley, all seamed and scored
By waste and pillage and fire and sword,
Down we galloped, like Attila’s Huns,
Capturing trenches and flags and guns,
Bagging the foe ere the fight began
(That was a habit with Sheridan!)
I seized a flag, but the color-guard
Passed my party and thrust me hard, —
Though we made it up and were friends for aye
When I shared my rations with him next day!

The Carroll Herald (Carroll, Iowa) May 29, 1912

Literature of South Dakota, by Oscar William Coursey (Google book link above) has a few pages that talk about about  his writing. Google  also has some of his work available online, for example:

Pilot Knob: the Thermopylae of the West
By Cyrus Asbury Peterson, Joseph Mills Hanson (LINK)

Frontier ballads
By Joseph Mills Hanson, Maynard Dixon (LINK)

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One Response to “The Unknown Blue and Gray”

  1. In The Attic with Wilbur D. Nesbit « YesterYear Once More Says:

    […] can be viewed/read on the Open Library website. I linked the Google book version of this book in my The Unknown Blue and Gray post, which also includes his poem by the same […]

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