Loper’s Gay Marines

Image from the Genealogy Trails History Group page for The Fifty First Regiment of Iowa Volunteers

FROM MANILA.

The following piece of poetry was written by W.B. Emerson, Company C, 51st Iowa at Iloilo Harbor, January 29th, and dedicated to Col. John C. Loper, commander of the 51st Iowa volunteers. It appeared in a Manila paper of that date which was sent to J.S. Mahana by his nephew Bert.

Image of Col. John C. Loper from IowaGenWeb’s  page, Iowa in the Great War

Loper’s Gay Marines.

Some long for their homes in the city
‘Mid the worry and bustle and strife,
While others pine for the country
And a peaceful quiet life,
But give to me the pleasure
Of a life of shifting scenes
On board the old Pennsylvania
With Loper’s Gay Marines.

I know there is joy in the city
With its mansions great and grand,
And I’ve tasted the sweets of the country;
That “glimpse of the Promised Land;”
Yet with all respect to their granduer,
My heart with rapture leans
To life on the old Pennsylvania
With Loper’s Gay Marines.

We live in the height of glory;
Our lot is hard to beat,
For the extent of our exertions
Is the effort to sleep and eat;
We have no cause to worry
For we live like kings and queens
On board the old Pennsylvania
With Loper’s Gay Marines.

For breakfast we have tit-ham and coffee
With potatoes still wearing their skin,
Two hardtacks and a mouthful of oatmeal
That always produces a grin;
For dinner there’s soup or slumgullion
While at supper we sometimes get beans
Such is life on the old Pennsylvania
With Loper’s Gay Marines.

True the coffee is often quite tasteless
And the hardtack is fast turning green,
While the potatoes are black in the center
And the tit-ham is never too lean,
The rice and oatmeal is wormy,
The slumgullion is rotten it seems,
Yet we cling to the old Pennsylvania
And Loper’s Gay Marines.

The water’s a little rusty
Being condensed from the native salt,
Nor would its smell mislead you
Into thinking it was malt,
And though warm as if just taken
From the home of incarnate fiends
It goes on the old Pennsylvania
With Loper’s Gay Marines.

Nor are we allowed to get lonesome
We are all provided for that,
Each man has a pet monkey
Or at least a well trained rat,
While the graybacks are always plenty
In each man’s trouser seams
On board the old Pennsylvania
With Loper’s Gay Marines.

Nor are these our only comforts
For we are safe from gore
Lying secure at anchor
About a mile from shore.
And though we can see the enemy
As his gun in the sunlight gleams,
There’s no danger on the old Pennsylvania
With Loper’s Gay Marines.

Our fighting is done by diplomacy
Of the latest modern style,
We win numerous bloodless battles
By a look, a word or a smile;
The ignorant landlubber forces
Still use a gun it seems,
But they’re out of date on the old Pns’lvna
With Loper’s Gay Marines.

We’ve sailed from San Francisco
To Honolulu bay,
Across the broad Pacific
To old Manila Bay,
Then down to Iloilo
Where smiling nature beams
Upon the Pennsylvania
And Loper’s Gay Marines.

For ninety days we’ve rode the waves
As ’round the world we sail,
A wonder to all nations
Like Jonah and the whale,
For even Noah with his ark
A common creature seems
When compared with the old P’nsylvania
And Loper’s Gay Marines.

So if you are seeking pleasure
Or longing after fame,
Upon our roll of honor
Allow us to write your name,
For you’ll reach no height of glory
Even in your dreams,
Like life on the old Pennsylvania
With Loper’s Gay Marines.

Daily Iowa State Press (Iowa City, Iowa) May 13, 1899

*****

For more about the 51st: Spanish-American War Fifty-First Infantry Historical Sketch

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