Posts Tagged ‘Memorial Day’

Soldier, We Do Not Forget

May 25, 2013


Lest we forget those who fought for the Liberties which we enjoy, may the day be fittingly observed.


Soldier, we do not forget;
Purple pansies, mignonette
Show where mourning hearts are met.
Though you’ve traveled farther yet,
Past the worry and the fret
Where a scarlet sun has set.
Vivid rose and violet
On your grave with tears are wet;
Soldier, we do not forget.

Sheboygan Press (Sheboygan, Wisconsin) May 29, 1934

The Blue and the Gray

May 28, 2012

The Blue and the Gray.

(On the Unveiling, on Monument Day, of the Monument to the Confederate Dead at Chicago.)

The conflict’s o’er, the banner’s furled,
A cause is lost and won,
And martyred heroes sweetly rest
‘Neath stars or glowing sun.
Some calmly lie where gleaming shafts
Rise proudly toward the sky;
Some sleep in the hush of wooded nooks
Where light winds softly sigh.

Some rest where once the battle raged
In tempest of shot and shell,
Where deeds of valor were grandly wrought
And brave men fought and fell —
Fell ‘mid gleam of musket and sword,
And glory of battle array,
And their names and valiant deeds are sung
In the poet’s grandest lay.

But those whose graves are decked today
By friends and erstwhile foes,
Are those whose life-tide ebbed away
‘Mid prison’s gloom and woes.
Far from their sunny homes they sleep —
The homes they loved so well,
The homes for which they sternly faced
The foe and a prison hell.

But garlands fair their graves adorn,
Blest covenants of peace;
And hand meets hand in clasp which tells
That hate and strife must cease.

Tread softly now, ’tis hallowed ground
Where “blue” and “gray” clasp hands,
And mingled tears above the dust
Where sleep these patriot bands.
And they who once were bitter foes
But now are brothers true,
Sing equal praises to the brave,
Wore they the gray or blue.

And this majestic monument,
Unwelled with love and pride,
A tribute is from the living brave
To the brave and true who died.


May 30, 1895.

The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) May 30, 1895

Images from Wikipedia

Fallen Heros – Old Soldiers Day

May 28, 2012

The Daily Northwester (Oshkosh, Wisconsin) May 30, 1890


The speaker closed with the following poem of his own composition:

Brave, Generous Boys
Who shouldered quick their guns
And to the front they pressed,
Giving a life to save a life,
Dying that we might bless.

And the mother with heart un-speakable
Thinks of the blessful past,
And the image of her loving boy
Her noblest and her last.

But death came sternly with a touch
No mother’s love could shield;
Soon mouldering were those laughing eyes
On a southern battle field.

And the lonely mother left
Of sorrow has her share,
Deeming her country’s sacrifice
Is greater than she can bear.

But she thinks of Spartan mothers
In those cruel days gone by,
While firmer grows her trembling lip
And drier grows her eye.

And peace comes stealing o’er her soul
And mixing with tints her tears,
Paints immortal her boy
To shine undimmed by coming years.

There he is safe, serene and blessed,
The mother needs our care.
Her sorrows be divided up —
Let’s each one take a share.

To scared trust we’ll all prove true and guard it well with care,
And on the thirtieth of May,
With songs and blossoms rare,
We’ll gather round the brave boys’ tombs
In gratitude and prayer.

W.W. Kimball, orator of the day.

The Daily Northwester (Oshkosh, Wisconsin) May 30, 1891

Under the sod and the dew,

Waiting the judgment day,

Love and tears for the Blue,

Tears and Love for the Gray.

The Daily Northwester (Oshkosh, Wisconsin) May 30, 1893

Homeward Bound

May 27, 2012

Thank God! the last proud victory’s won!
The last long weary march is done,
The bivouac fires are burning low,
And conquered is the last proud foe.
And they who have the danger dared, —
And they who have the trials shared —
With wreathes of deathless glory crown’d,
Thank God! at last are “homeward bound.”

Shoulder to shoulder they have stood,
On many a field of war and blood,
Together fought on battle plain,
Together wept for comrades slain.
These soldiers brave, and tried, and true,
Will bid each other now adieus;
And with all glory victory crown’d,
Each warrior chief is “homeward bound.”

The drums shall muster them no more,
Nor cannon sent its deadly roar;
And bugle call they will not hear,
But voice of loved ones fill their ear;
The battle’s shock, the dungeons gloom,
They’ll change for joys of “home, sweet home,”
Oh! may a home with plenty crown’d,
Await each soldier “homeward bound.”

Ended at last, “this cruel war,”
Oh! mother, sister, weep no more!
Let all your fears and sorrows cease!
And hail the holy dream of peace.
Come with your smiles and kind words, come!
And bid the hero “welcome home,”
He comes with wreathes of laurel crown’d
Your soldier boy is “homeward bound.”

No more to tread the picket line,
No more in hospital to pine,
No more to long for words from “home,”
To cheer the weary prison gloom.
No more to rush to deadly strife,
No more to peril limb and life,
For peace at last, sweet peace is found,
And they who sought her, “homeward bound.”

What is the pittance that he shares?
For all the soldier braves and dares,
For who like him leaves home and friend,
His country’s honor to defend?
Oh! had the soldier’s courage failed!
Our banner in the dust had trailed,
And liberty her grave had found,
And slavery been with triumph crown’d.

When red the tide of battle lowered,
Or when defeated, overpowered,
Still firm the mighty phalanx stood,
Like rivers ran their hero blood —
They left them dead in thousands slain,
And “rallied ’round their flag” again,
They saw that flag with victory crown’d,
And now they’re marching, “homeward bound.”

They come to us all battle worn,
They bring our flag with bullets torn,
Yet with its stains of battle gore,
‘Tis dearer, holier, than before.
For liberty was born anew,
Beneath that old Red, white, and Blue,
Then hail the flag with glory crown’d,
Then hail our heroes “homeward bound.”

But there are hundred thousands slain,
Who sleep upon the Southern plain,
And there are thousand hearts that yearn,
For those who never will return.
Oh while we write each deathless name,
Upon the sacred scroll of fame,
Let us provide for those that mourn,
And comfort those whose hearts are torn,
Whose sons with brighter glory crown’d,
A dearer, better “home” have found.

BALTIMORE, MD., May 20th 1865.

The Union (Georgetown, Delaware) Jun 9, 1865

Hark! from the Battle Field

May 27, 2012

Hark, From the Battle Field.


Hark, from the battle-field
Cometh a wail,
Borne to our list’ning ears
By the Southern gale;
Lo! for the Union cause,
Die we to-day —
Home and friends, all we love,
Far, far away.

Sadly we mourn for those
Who die for the right;
Often think we of them,
In the still night;
Weep, weep, for those we love,
Dying to-day,
From their homes and their friends,
Far, far away.

They to our waiting hearts,
Never may come;
On Southern battle-fields,
Is their last home;
God bless the soldiers brave!
Dying to-day,
Home and friends, all they love,
Far, far away.

Green be their memory,
In warm hearts for aye;
For their brave passing souls,
Daily we pray —
God bless the soldier brave!
Dying to-day,
In Thy home, up in heaven,
Take them we pray.

Monroe Sentinel (Monroe, Wisconsin) Jun 25, 1862

Image from The Commercial Appeal

The Colored Soldier

May 27, 2012

Image from The USCT Chronicle

“For the Union.”

The Colored Soldier.
Loud o’er the haughty South, pillaged and torn,
Rang out the battle cry to Afric’s born;
Up from the slaver’s lash, bloody and keen
Up from the bed of woe, life to redeem,
Sprang the dark ranks at Columbia’s call,
Daring to save Liberty — or fall.

Up from their gory paths, beaten and scarred,
Out from their cheerless homes; scorning regard,
Craving but freedom to bare their dark breasts,
To triumph or die, e’er their saber should rest,
On rushed the slave-bands from tyranny’s van,
On from the homes where man is not man.

Off to the field of strife, hopeful and brave,
Off to the rest of a patriot’s grave,
Steadily, fearlessly, stearnly they trod,
Trusting for courage to Liberty’s God,
Swearing to purchase the boon of the free,
Shouting, “on to death or victory!”

Up to fire cannon’s mouth, gladly they went,
Over the slain “in red burial blent,”
Into the fangs of death, manfully strode,
Blood of the white and black, fearfully flowed,
Mingled and gurgled in one crimson stream,
And swords of bond and free mingled their gleam.

Hearts of one purpose, and men of one mind,
Thoughts of one prospect and strokes of one kind,
Visions of light neath the same banner’s blue,
Clad in the same garb of a Nation true,
Evermore true to the “Union” and Right,
True to the black man and true to the white.

Bleeding and fighting and dying they fell
How many and true, the red records tell,
Fell in the hope that the nation was true,
True to her free ones and her shackled too,
Breathed out their lives that their children might live,
For the rights that a grateful land can give.

Sweet o’er Columbia hills, lonly and bare,
Mounted the sun of Peace, cloudless and fair,
Back from the cannon’s mouth, victory crowned,
Came on the white and black o’er many a mound,
Came on, with their armless and legless frames,
White men and black men had suffered the same.

Image from “Freedom Fighters”

Loud from the lip, of men, pealed the glad strain,
“Long live Columbia,” triumphant again,
On the broad brow of the white chieftan placed,
The laurel of fame from a thankful race,
While back to his hut the black hero goes,
Unnoticed, unhonored, to his repose.

Far to the field of blood, gladly he went,
To where the ballot-box was torn and rent,
Like the sons of Eli, about the Ark,
He fought beside it when the night was dark;
He stood between it and the traitor’s steel,
He struck and bruised the bold oppressor’s heel.

Down by its sacred place, humbly bending,
Down with a tearful heart, of rings blending,
Glad that to Freedom there lives a strong shield,
Glad that the ballot a black man may wield,
When lo! proud Columbia spurns her black son
From altars and rights which his valor had won.

Wide were the gates she had opened to him,
Broad were the fields that lay peaceful within,
Bright was the change from the scourge to the crown,
And gladsome the life-strains that echoed down,
But, when from his hands the chains she had flung
It changed; and o’er all dead barrenness hung.

Shame, shame on Columbia, great thought she be,
To fetter minds and hearts, while hands are free,
To grant to her traitor offspring a voice,
While her dark-browed heroes cannot rejoice,
Look well to thy bulwarks, for God is true,
The blackman’s his child and brother to you.

The Union (Georgetown, Delaware) Jul 21, 1865

The Wounding of Gen. Stonewall Jackson

May 10, 2012

The Wounding of Gen. Stonewall Jackson.
Baltimore Sun, 2nd.

To-day is the twentieth anniversary of the date on which Gen. Stonewall Jackson, after routing Hooker’s right flank at Chancellorsville, and while pressing forward to sever the line of retreat of the main body of the Federal army, received from his own men, by accident, the shot which eight days later resulted in his death. To the Confederacy his loss was irreparable. Having been engaged in nearly every important action of the war in Virginia, and having distinguished himself in all, he had become among the Southern soldiery, as among the people, a hero whose presence on the battle-field was regarded as a sure omen of success. The list of the principal actions in which he participated —

Bull Run, Kernstown, McDowell, Front Royal, Winchester, Cross Keys, Port Republic, Cold Harbor, Cedar Mountain, second Bull Run, the investment of Harper’s Ferry, Sharpsburg or Antietam, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville —

is, with one two exceptions, a list of successes, reflecting the highest credit upon his military genius. His fame has become the common property of the country, and indeed, of the world at large, having long ago crossed the obliterated limits of the government for which he fought. The comparative obscurity in which he passed all but the last three years of his life finds a parallel in the mystery, or uncertainty, which in the popular mind surrounds the circumstances under which he was shot.

The question has been raised whether he was wounded by his own men or by the enemy, and, it being generally conceded that he was fired at by mistake by his own men, it has been a matter of hot discussion as to the regiment that made the fatal blunder. The facts, well substantiated by officers present at the time, are as follows: The front line of advance had been formed by Rhodes’ division, extending across the pike, but the division commanded by Gen. Colston, forming the second line, had, as the action progressed, become mingled with it. After nightfall, in a lull of the firing, it was undertaken to relieve the two divisions by A.P. Hill’s division of fresh troops. Jackson was impatient to have the attack recommenced, and, supposing that there was a skirmish line out in front between Rhodes’ men and the enemy, rode forward along the pike in advance of Hill to ascertain the enemy’s position, and in doing so passed through the line of battle beginning to be formed by Lane’s brigade of Hill’s division. Those of Lane’s men immediately in the road knew that Gen. Jackson had passed, but those further to the right and left did not. Hence some of Lane’s troops on the right of the road, seeing Gen. Jackson accompanied by several signal-men and couriers, in their front, mistook them for the enemy and opened fire on the party, wounding not a few of its members.

Those of their number still unhurt, including Gen. Jackson, to escape this fire, plunged into the woods on the left, where they were met with a second volley from the troops on that side of the road. Gen. Lane reports it as the opinion generally accepted at the time that it was the eighteenth regiment of his brigade of North Carolina that did the firing, mistaking Gen. Jackson and his escort for a party of the Federal cavalry. The result of the second volley was that the general was wounded in three places, two ball penetrating his left arm, shattering it and cutting the chief artery, and a third passing through the palm of his right hand. After some delay Gen. Jackson was borne to the rear. His arm was amputated and hopes of his recovery were entertained. But pneumonia soon set in, which was the immediate cause of his death on the 10th of May, 1863.

The Landmark (Statesville, North Carolina) May 11, 1883

Soldier, Rest!

May 30, 2011

“Unknown U.S. Soldier”

“Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.”

The hot sky would split with the uproar
That day when they fought;
This rest in the stillness and shadow
Gives time for long thought:
He must think of one strange revelation,
One thrilling surprise—
It is better to think with cool darkness
Laid over your eyes.

Time enough for deep thought while the branches
With winter are dumb;
When the great sun swings far to the Northward
And summer has come:
He lies hushed with the wonderful knowledge
He holds in his breast
And the bright flag droops always above him
To honor his rest.

Rough and reckless and headstrong and violent,
Tingling with life,
Charmed once by the call of the drums
And the sound of the fife—
That day when they waited and waited
And knew they must die,
Where was comfort for him, where was help
Beneath the hot sky?

All the life beating strong in his body
Revolted, out-cried
Against dying; no courage or passion
But only his pride
Sent him on with the others, despairing
And hating it all,
And faint with sick horror at seeing them
Stumble and fall.

Far out on the crest of the battle,
Up, up toward the death—
“To die for one’s country is sweet!”—he remembered,
And then, out of breath.
Met the shock and the pain and the terror
Unflinching and knew
In one instant’s unbearable brightness
It was true! It was true!

–S.H. Kemper, in The Reader.

The Daily Herald (Chicago, Illinois) May 26, 1911

Image from the Wild Oats Sown and Grown blog – interesting post about the flint-lock gun at the link.


There’s a battered old gun of the time of King George,
That hangs on my grandfather’s wall;
The barrel was wrought in some rude country forge,
And the stock — it just happened, that’s all.

‘Tis rusted and bent, and there’s nary a dent
In this old-fashioned engine of war;
For a fox and for “partridge” it’s not worth a cent,
And I’m sure I’d not trust it for “b’ar.”

But long, long ago, when my grandfather’s dad
Was a strapping young sprout of eighteen,
That ramshackle gun made the Red-coats feel bad,
As they marched through the broad village green.

They say that my ancestor crouched ‘neath a wall,
And rested his piece on a stone,
And rammed it and crammed it with powder and ball,
And peppered away, all alone.

The foe could not stop, for like fate, in the rear
The minutemen followed en masse!
So granddaddy’s dad pegged away without fear,
Till four of the Reds bit the grass.

A brave deed, you say! Well, I never shall boast
Of the family prowess — not I;
But I think there are some who’d have quitted the coast
And let the King’s soldiers march by.

I’m proud of the flint-lock that gleams on the pegs,
In the bright fitful blaze of the fire;
And I’ll venture to say that few men with legs
Would have stuck like my granddaddy’s sire.

All honor to him! And when brave deeds are sung
Of the heroes whose fame we recall,
Let a line be slipped in for the old flint-lock gun,
and the man who pegged over the wall!

Paul Pastnor, in Puck.

Edwardsville Intelligencer (Edwardsville, Illinois) May 29,1889

NOTE: Paul Pastnor was one of Charles Morris’ pen names – see link above.

From the Front

May 29, 2011



A Story for Decoration Day by I.D. Marshall.

It was a two story frame house, painted white and with green blinds, and it stood a little way back from the road that wound through a narrow valley between low hills of second growth timber. In front of the house was a big, heavily fruited cherry tree. A boy was perched upon a ladder among the branches, filling a tin pail with the ruby fruit, his fingers flying as if he were competing with the birds, who seemed to think they had a mortgage on all the cherries in the neighborhood. But his haste had another cause. His mother had but a moment before told him that when he had filled the pail three times he might go to the postoffice, a mile farther down the valley, and inquire for the mail.

The boy knew his mother to be quite as anxious as he that the trip should be made to the postoffice. For more than a week his daily visit after the mail had been fruitless, and he was certain she was worrying, in spite of her usual air of cheerfulness, for the head of the little family was at the front, wearing a blue uniform, and vague rumors were afloat of a bloody battle in Pennsylvania.

Singularly enough, the mail had lately failed to bring newspapers, as well as letters, and it had not been possible to borrow from the neighbors as usual. The boy and his mother had not talked much on the matter; but, whatever his mother thought, he suspected bad news in the papers — news that would explain why there were no letters. He was impatient to go the postoffice, but he dreaded the visit, too, and this made him climb down the ladder slowly when at last the pail was filled for the third time.

As his feet touched the earth he heard the rattle of wheels, and looking around he saw Deacon Nelson’s big bay horse and decent black democrat wagon, driven by the deacon himself, draw near. The deacon’s countenance, which was generally smiling and jolly, was very solemn now, and the face of the deacon’s wife, who sat on the back seat under a gingham parasol, was tear stained. As the deacon slowly got out of the wagon and tethered the horse he asked, with a fine show of cheerfulness:

“Has your mother heard from the elder in a day or two, John? No? Well, Marthy and me was just driving by, and we thought we’d make a little visit, you see, just to ask how your corn crop was getting on, you know.” Then, to his wife in an undertone, he said: “Now, be careful, Marthy. It’s all right; it’s all right. It must be all right, I tell you.”

The deacon was one of the chief pillars in the church of which the boy’s father, before going to the front, had been pastor, and, like all in that neighborhood and similar neighborhoods, the deacon always spoke of his minister as “the elder.” This minister had been outspoken in his patriotism during the first year of the war. During the second he had induced many of the neighborhood’s ablebodied men to enlist. Early in the third he had himself marched away as their captain, with the young men from his own congregation who had offered themselves to their country. If the boy was doubtful about his father’s safety before the deacon spoke, he was not afterward. It seemed to his young mind as if the deacon has said between his audible words:

“The elder is killed, boy! Do you hear? Killed!”

John hurried into the house with his pail of cherries, kissed his mother and started on a run for the postoffice. It was a hot day, but he did not mind the heat. It is doubtful if he knew it was hot. He thought only of the bare possibility that he might get a letter addressed to his mother or himself in his father’s dear handwriting, and he ran till nature was exhausted and he had to stop and rest under the shadow of a big buttonball tree by the side of the road. When he had regained his breath, he started on again, but this time at a more moderate pace, and as he approached the little general store where the postoffice was kept his footsteps lagged. He was afraid he would receive the same answer that he had for days.

“Nothing today, sonny. Tell your mother the papers missed this week. No, there is no letter. I swan, I wish there was.”

That was just the answer the boy did receive when at last he crept into the store between rows of two tined hayforks and wooden hand rakes, but there was this addition by the kindly old postmaster to the dreaded words that told the story of no mail:

“Tell your mother that we may get another mail today, and if we do we’ll send anything that comes for you right up.”

There was no regular service to the little postoffice, for no railroad ran through the narrow valley, but the mail was brought from the county seat, 11 miles distant, at intervals by any one who went that way.

During the boy’s weary homeward tramp through the dust and under the burning rays of the sun he thought only of how he should tell his mother there was still no mail.

When he reached home, he found a half dozen white haired farmers, all clad in Sunday black, standing about the yard under the shade of the trees. There were no young or middle aged men there, for all such in that neighborhood had gone to the war with their beloved preacher. As the boy entered the yard one of the men hastily stuck a newspaper, from which he had been reading to the others, into his pocket.

In the parlor of the white house there were several women younger than Deacon Nelson’s wife. Their husbands were soldiers, too, and at the front with the preacher. The boy’s mother was sitting in the center of a circle of kneeling women, her eyes set and tearless, but there was a sound of subdued sobbing from some of the others. The deacon was just beginning a prayer.

“Dear Lord, our heavenly Father,” quavered the deacon in tender and reverent tones. Then he stopped. What was that?

The boy’s ear was not the only one that caught the sound of fife and drum, the fife playing merrily, “Rally Round the Flag, Boys, Rally Once Again” — you know how it sounds, reader — while the drumsticks were beating out the time in lively measure.

A moment more, and the rattle of a wagon coming down a stony slope in the road was heard. Then there was a cheer, and the fife and drum changed to “Yankee Doodle.” Presently the wagon, in which sat the postmaster himself, the blacksmith, the cooper and the boys who were playing the fife and drum drove noisily up. The old postmaster almost fell out of the wagon and stumbled up the path to the door. He was quite breathless, but he held aloft in his hand a big yellow envelope.

“It’s from the elder, brethren! It’s from the elder!” he gasped. “I know his handwriting, and the postmark is since the battle. Open it, ma’am,” he said to the boy’s mother, “and read it out.”

Everybody gathered around her as she took the missive, but it wasn’t opened just yet, for she fainted before she could cut the envelope. It was not long. It said:

“DEAR WIFE AND SON JOHN — I have been hurt a little and lay on the field all night, but it is not serious, and I shall not even have to go to the hospital. So do not be worried. We have won a great victory, and our God will keep me safely to the end and bring us all together again.”

“Let us sing the Doxology, ‘Praise God, from whom all blessings flow,’” said Deacon Nelson, while his eyes streamed. Then they all sang with the spirit and the understanding also. When the singing was over, the newspaper that had been hidden from the boy was brought out. It told of the battle of Gettysburg, and the name of the elder was in the list of the missing.

The elder did live to come home again, and on every Decoration day since the establishment of that beautiful holiday he has made a talk over the soldiers’ graves in the little cemetery back of the church in the valley, of which he is still pastor.

Edwardsville Intelligencer (Edwardsville, Illinois) May 28, 1895

We Are Not Many: A Poem for Memorial Day

May 27, 2010

Forest Lawn Cemetery - Omaha, Nebraska


We are not many, we who stand
Beside our comrades’ graves today,
But remnants of a patriot band —
Ere long we too shall pass away;
Yet while we live, with reverent hearts
We’ll honor those who went before;
While as each brother, called, departs,
Is re-enlisted one name more.

We’re growing old, who’re left behind,
With children ’round our knees;
While still our stories, to their mind,
Are finer than the history’s.
We are to them as heroes true,
And love of country thrills each heart,
For we can tell of what we know,
Of battles where we bore our part.

We strew bright flowers o’er our dead,
And smiles are mingling with them there;
No longer o’er them tears are shed —
We know the uniform they wear.
The flag still saves that o’er them waves;
But, as the pilgrim years go by,
How few are left to deck their graves,
And fewer — till we with them lie.

We stand upon the river’s verge,
And see the Golden City shine
Where all earth’s warring discords merge
Into sweet harmonies divine —
Dividing River, bright and cool,
O’er which we all must take our way,
When to that Harbor Beautiful
We all shall sail some day, some day.

— George Birdseye.

Carroll Herald (Carroll, Iowa) May 27, 1914