["Too many of the Wide-awakes of
the last campaign are indeed fast asleep now, when their country needs them. I
saw one of them slumbering by Culpepper Court House last week. He was sleeping
with his right arm twisted in the spokes of a disabled cannon-wheel, and a
purple mark was on his right temple. But he was not alone in his forgetful
sloth, for near him, and rigidly grasping his disengaged hand, was a Democrat,
slumbering too! They sleep for the flag, and may its stars shed pleasant dreams
on their loyal souls forever!"]
Two soldiers slumbering, hand
clasped in hand?
Not thus should freemen lie
When storms of trouble break upon
And treason's hordes are nigh.
Not thus Columbia's children
should give o'er
When tyrants boast and brag Of
Freedom vanquished. "Nay, we can no more!
We sleep here for the flag!"
"See!" one said, "here's a mark
upon my brow That cowards never wear;
I have but left the battle-field
A bullet hit me there!"
The other looked up smiling in my
His rigid lips apart;
And spoke no word, but motioned
me to trace
His wound above his heart.
Oh! many slumbering by the flag
By love of ease possessed;
Feeling no shame; not caring to
Not so they sunk to rest.
They met the foe, refusing to bow
Before a rebel rag:
Speak softly! give their memory a
Who sleep thus for our flag!
Dear Flag, for whom so many sleep
Let all thy bright stars shine
In pleasant dreams upon these
For they were always thine!
When others would have trailed
thee in the dust,
And hailed thy fall with glee,
They sprang to save thee—fought
in thy defense—
Now sleep in death for thee.
Sleep on, brave ones, ye shall
not be forgot!
Through all the country's pain
She dreams not all of self—her
Is for her children slain.
When she looks for strong arms,
and willing hearts,
And feet that never lag,
She wishes you were by her side
Who now sleep for the flag!
"WHAT is it, dear?"
"Only the drums. Oh, if they
would only stop one moment!"
I saw my dear aunt shake her head
sorrowfully, while a look of meaning passed between her and my uncle. They
thought I was out of my mind, but they were mistaken. I knew as well as they did
that the noise which was wearing upon every nerve was only the reverberation of
the crowd of carriages and omnibuses on Broadway. Still I could only hear the
roll of drums. I had heard it, day and night, for five weeks.
It was a drum this time, after
all, and muffled: they were approaching the house. My aunt started up, with a
gesture of dismay, to try and close out the sound. Nearer and nearer came the
heavy tramp of men, and now the sad dirge wailed out by low-toned instruments
the Dead March that marks a military funeral. Strange to say, it was wonderfully
soothing and restful as it rose and died away upon my ears, strained so long to
a steady, monotonous roll! When they had all gone by, I was weeping, for the
first time in many days. It was like dew to my dry eyeballs—an unspeakably
blessed physical relief to my aching heart.
Those funeral honors were in my
mind apportioned to him. I felt no longer the bitterest, most maddening fear of
all—that his dear form was left unburied, for the ill birds of prey to tear and
mangle. A ghastly, blackened face, upturned to the scorching sun, no longer
glared upon me when I closed my eyes; but a low, quiet grave, where comrades had
said a prayer as it was hollowed, and where dust should quietly mingle with
dust. The grass should spring upon it some day; wild-flowers look up with dewy
eyes to heaven; and there peacefully, as in my arms, he should slumber until we
should be reunited beyond all death and change.
Again that sad and touching
strain floated back to my darkened room on its errand of mercy—fainter and
fainter now as the footsteps receded—"Adestes Fidelis," our old Sunday evening
hymn! For weeks my mind had gone in the same dull, maddening round; but now I
saw my old home as vividly as if I were in reality the little fair-haired child
nestling in my dear father's arms, while my mother touched the keys, and their
voices rose upward in a solemn and tender unison—an emblem of their united godly
A feeling of pity for myself came
over me to think I had come to this—that bright, eager, hopeful child! I
wondered if they did not pity me, removed as they were from the sorrows of
earth; if they did not long to pluck me out of the dark waters that were surging
over my soul. Who knows but it was their spirits ministering unto me; for from
that moment the stupor of despair left me? I only wonder I had not died at
first. It happened thus: I came down so cheerful and buoyant that morning,
singing to my bird as I arranged the flowers that our city garden afforded, for
it was my day for a letter from him, and all this long year he had never failed
me. Twice a week his daily journal, in which every act and thought of his life
was chronicled for my eyes, came. There might be delays after it left his hand,
but none through him.
I did not think to unfold the
morning paper, not knowing that a movement of his corps was expected; but my
uncle had known it for several days, and had been dreading disaster, as I
afterward found, from the carefully-worded telegraphs of the