Battle of Antietam Poem


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, July 4, 1863

This site features online versions of all the Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. These newspapers allow you to watch the Civil War unfold week by week, just as the people saw it at the time. These papers are full of incredible wood cut illustrations of the key people and battles.

(Scroll Down to See Entire Page, or Newspaper Thumbnails below will take you to the page of interest)


Rebel Spies

Rebel Spies

McClellan's Loyalty

George McClellan's Loyalty Questioned

Battle Winchester

Battle of Winchester

Before Vicksburg

Before Vicksburg

Battle of Antietam Poem

Battle of Antietam Poem

Battle of Milliken's Bend

Battle of Milliken's Bend

Whipped Slave

Whipped Slave

Slave Torture

Slave Torture

Works Before Vicksburg

Works Before Vicksburg

Milliken's Bend Battle

Milliken's Bend Battle

General Buford's Cavalry Charge

General Buford's Cavalry Charge


Secession Cartoon




JULY 4, 1863.]



complicated thing; not a patch upon yours, Mr. Fullalove. Yours is ingenious, and simple. Ship has been in action I see: pray how was that, if I may be so bold?"

"Pirates, commodore," said Sharpe. "We fell in with a brace of Portuguese devils, latine-rigged, and carried ten guns apiece, in the Straits of Gaspar: fought em from noon till sundown, riddled one, and ran down the other, and sunk her in a moment. That was all your doing, captain; so don't try to shift it on other people; for we won't let you."

"If he denies it, I won't believe him," said Collier: "for he has got it in his eye. Gentlemen, will you do me the honor to dine with me to-day on board the flag-ship?"

Dodd and Fullalove accepted. Sharpe declined, with regret, on the score of duty. And as the cocked hat went down the side, after saluting him politely, he could not help thinking to himself what a difference between a real captain, who had something to be proud of, and his own unlicked cub of a skipper, with the manners of a pilot-boat. He told Robarts the next day. Robarts said nothing; but his face seemed to turn greenish; and it embittered his hatred of Dodd the inoffensive.

It is droll, and sad, but true, that Christendom is full of men in a hurry to hate. And a fruitful cause is jealousy. The schoolmen, or rather certain of the schoolmen—for nothing is much shallower than to speak of all those disputants as one school—defined woman, "a featherless biped vehemently addicted to jealousy." Whether she is more featherless than the male can be decided at a trifling expense of time, money, and reason: you have only to go to court. But as for envy and jealousy, I think it is pure, unobservant, antique Cant which has fixed them on the female character distinctively. As a mole-hill to a mountain, is women's jealousy to men's. Agatha may have a host of virtues and graces, and yet her female acquaintance will not hate her, provided she has the moderation to abstain from being downright pretty. She may sing like an angel, paint like an angel, talk—write—nurse the sick—all like angel, and not rouse the devil in her fair sisters: so long as she does not dress like an angel. But, the minds of men being much larger than women's, yet very little greater, they hang jealousy on a thousand pegs. When there was no peg, I have seen them do with a pin.

Captain Robarts took a pin: ran it into his own heart, and hung that sordid passion on it.

He would get rid of all the Doddites before he sailed. He insulted Mr. Tickell, so that he left the service, and entered a mercantile house ashore: he made several of the best men desert: and the ship went to sea short of hands. This threw heavier work on the crew; and led to many punishments, and a steady current of abuse. Sharpe became a mere machine, always obeying, never speaking: Grey was put under arrest for remonstrating against ungentlemanly language: and Bayliss, being at bottom of the same breed as Robarts, fell into his humor, and helped hector the petty officers and men. The crew, depressed and irritated, went through their duties pully-hauly-wise. There was no song under the forecastle in the first watch, and often no grog on the mess-table at one bell. Dodd never came on the quarter-deck without being reminded he was only a passenger, and the ship was now under naval discipline.

"I was reared in the royal navy, Sir:" would Robarts say: "second lieutenant aboard the Atalanta: that is the school, Sir; that is the only school that breeds seamen. Dodd bore scores of similar taunts as a Newfoundland puts up with a terrier in office: he seldom replied, and, when he did, in a few quiet dignified words that gave no handle.

Robarts, who bore the name of a lucky captain, had fair weather all the way to St. Helena.

The guard-ship at this island was the Salamanca. She had left the Cape a week before the Agra. Captain Robarts, with his characteristic good-breeding, went to anchor in shore of Her Majesty's ship. The wind failed at a critical moment, and a foul became inevitable: Collier was on his quarter-deck, and saw what would happen long before Robarts did: he gave the needful orders, and it was beautiful to see how in half a minute the frigate's guns were run in, her ports lowered, her yards toppled on end, and a spring carried out and hauled on.

The Agra struck abreast her own forechains on the Salamanca's quarter.

(Pipe.) "Boarders away. Tomahawks! cut every thing that holds!" was heard from the frigate's quarter-deck.

Rush came a boarding party on to the merchant ship and hacked away without mercy all her lower rigging that held on to the frigate, signal halliards and all; others boomed her off with capstan bars, etc., and in two minutes the ships were clear. A lieutenant and boat's crew came for Robarts, and ordered him on board the Salamanca, and, to make sure of his coming, took him back with them. He found Commodore Collier standing stiff as a ramrod on his quarter-deck.

"Are you the master of the Agra?" (His quick eye recognized her in a moment.)

"I am, Sir."

"Then she was commanded by a seaman: and is commanded by a lubber. Don't apply for your papers this week; for you won't get them. Good-morning. Take him away!"

They returned Robarts to his ship; and a suppressed grin on a score of faces showed him the clear commanding tones of the commodore had reached his own deck. He soothed himself by stopping the men's grog and mastheading three midshipmen that same afternoon.

The night before he weighed anchor, this disciplinarian was drinking very late in a low public house. There was not much moon, and the

officer in charge of the ship did not see the gig coming until it was nearly alongside; then all was done in a flurry.

"Hy! man the side lanterns there! Jump, you boys! or you'll catch pepper."

The boys did jump, and little Murphy, not knowing the surgeon had ordered the ports to be drooped, bounded over the bulwarks like an antelope, lighted on the midship port, which stood at this angle \, and glanced off into the ocean, lantern foremost: he made his little hole in the water within a yard of Captain Robarts. That Dignity, though splashed, took no notice of so small an incident as a gone ship-boy: and, if Murphy had been wise and staid with Nep. all had been well. But the poor urchin inadvertently came up again, and without the lantern. One of the gig's crew grabbed him by the hair, and prolonged his existence, but without any malicious intention.

"Where is the other lantern?" was Robarts's first word on reaching the deck: as if he didn't know.

"Gone overboard, Sir, with the boy Murphy."

"Stand forward you Sir!" growled Robarts.

Murphy stood forward, dripping and shivering with cold and fear.

"What d'ye mean by going overboard with the ship's lantern?"

"Och your arnr sure some unasy divil drooped the port; and the lantern and me we had no foothold at all at all, and the lantern went into the say, bad luck to ut; and I went afther to try and save ut—for your arnr."

"Belay all that!" said Robarts; "do you think you can blarney me, you young monkey? Here, Bosen's mate, take a ropesend and start him! — Again! — Warm him well! — That's right."

As soon as the poor child's shrieks subsided into sobs, the disciplinarian gave him Explanation, for Ointment.


"The force of discipline could no farther go" than to flog zeal for falling overboard: so, to avoid anti-climax in that port, Robarts weighed anchor at daybreak; and there was a southwesterly breeze waiting for this favorite of fortune, and carried him past the Azores. Off Ushant it was westerly; and veered to the norwest just before they sighted the land's end: never was such a charming passage from the Cape. The sailor who had the luck to sight Old England first, nailed his starboard shoe to the mainmast for contributions; and all hearts beat joyfully: none more than David Dodd's. His eye devoured the beloved shore: he hugged the treasure his own ill luck had jeopardized, but Robarts had sailed it safe into British waters; and forgave the man his ill manners for his good luck.

Robarts steered in for the Lizard; but, when abreast the point, kept well out again, and opened the channel, and looked out for a pilot.

One was soon seen working out toward him, and the Agra brought to; the pilot descended from his lugger into his little boat, rowed alongside, and came on deck; a rough, tanned sailor, clad in flushing; and in build and manner might have passed for Robarts's twin brother.

"Now then, you Sir, what will you take this ship up to the Downs for?"

"Thirty pounds."

Robarts told him roughly he would not get thirty pounds out of him.

"Thyse and no higher my Bo," answered the pilot, sturdily: he had been splicing the main brace, and would have answered an admiral.

Robarts swore at him lustily: Pilot discharged a volley in return with admirable promptitude. Robarts retorted, the other rough customer rejoined, and soon all Billingsgate thundered on the Agra's quarter-deck. Finding, to his infinite disgust, his visitor as great a blackguard as himself, and not to be outsworn, Robarts ordered him to quit the ship on pain of being man-handled over the side.

"Oh, that is it, is it?" growled the other: "here's fill and be off then." He prudently bottled the rest of his rage till he got safe into his boat: then shook his fist at the Agra, and cursed her captain sky high. "You see the fair wind, but you don't see the channel fret a coming, ye greedy gander. Downs! You'll never see them: you have saved your — money, and lost your — ship, ye — lubber."

Robarts hurled back a sugar-plum or two, and then ordered Bayliss to clap on all sail, and keep a midchannel course through the night.

At four bells in the middle watch Sharpe, in charge of the ship, tapped at Robarts's door. "Blowing hard, Sir, and the weather getting thickish."

"Wind fair still?"

"Yes, Sir."

"Then call me if it blows any harder," grunted Robarts.

In two hours more, tap, tap, came Bayliss, in charge. "If we don't take sail in, they'll take themselves out."

"Furl to-gallan'sels, and call me if it gets any worse."

In another hour Bayliss was at him again. "Blowing a gale, Sir, and a channel fog on."

"Reef taupsels, and call me if it gets any worse."

At daybreak Dodd was on deck, and found the ship flying through a fog so thick, that her forecastle was invisible from the poop, and even her foremast loomed indistinct and looked distant. "You'll be foul of something or other, Sharpe," said he.

"What is that to you?" inquired a loud rough voice behind him. "I don't allow passengers to handle my ship."

"Then do pray handle her yourself, captain! is this weather to go tearing happy-go-lucky up the British Channel?"

"I mean to sail her without your advice, Sir: and, being a seaman, I shall get all I can out of a fair wind."

"That is right, Captain Robarts; if you had but the Channel all to yourself."

"Perhaps you will leave me my deck all to myself."

"I should be delighted: but my anxiety will not let me." With this Dodd retired a few steps, and kept a keen look-out.

At noon, a lusty voice cried "LAND ON THE WEATHER BEAM!"

All eyes were turned that way, and saw nothing.

Land in sight was reported to Captain Robarts.

Now that worthy was in reality getting secretly anxious: so he ran on deck crying, "Who saw it?"

"Captain Dodd, Sir."

"Ugh! Nobody else?"

Dodd came forward, and, with a respectful air, told him that, being on the look-out, he had seen the coast of the Isle of Wight in a momentary lift of the haze.

"Isle of Fiddlestick!" was the polite reply. "Isle of Wight is eighty miles astern by now."

Dodd answered firmly that he was well acquainted with every outline in the channel, and the land he had seen was St. Catharine's point.

Robarts deigned no reply, but had the log heaved: it showed the vessel to be running twelve knots an hour. He then went to his cabin,. and consulted his chart; and, having worked his problem, came hastily on deck, and went from rashness to wonderful caution. "Turn the hands out, and heave the ship to!"

The manoeuvre was executed gradually and ably, and scarce a bucketful of water shipped. "Furl taupsels and set the main try-sail! There, Mr. Dodd, so much for you and your Isle of Wight. The land you saw was Dungeness, and you would have run on into the North Sea, I'll be bound."

When a man, habitually calm, turns anxious, he becomes more irritable: and the mixture of timidity and rashness he saw in Robarts made Dodd very anxious.

He replied angrily: "At all events I should not make a foul wind out of a fair one by heaving to; and if I did, I would heave to on the right tack."

At this sudden facer—one, too, from a patient man—Robarts staggered a moment. He recovered, and, with an oath, ordered Dodd to go below, or he would have him chucked into the hold.

"Come, don't be an ass, Robarts," said Dodd, contemptuously. Then, lowering his voice to a whisper: "don't you know the men only want such an order as that to chuck you into the sea?"

Robarts trembled. "Oh, if you mean to head a mutiny—"

"Heaven forbid, Sir! But I won't leave the deck in dirty weather like this, till the captain knows where he is."

Toward sunset it got clearer, and they drifted past a Revenue cutter, who was lying to with her head to the Northward. She hoisted no end of signals, but they understood none of them; and her captain gesticulated wildly on her deck.

"What is that Fantoccini dancing at?" inquired Robarts, brutally.

"To see a first-class ship drift to leeward in a narrow sea, with a fair wind," said Dodd, bitterly.

At night it blew hard, and the sea ran high and irregular. The ship began to be uneasy; and Robarts very properly ordered the top-gallant and royal yards to be sent down on deck. Dodd would have had them down twelve hours ago. The mate gave the order: no one moved. The mate went forward angry. He came back pale. The men refused to go aloft: they would not risk their lives for Captain Robarts.

The officers all assembled and went forward: they promised and. threatened; but all in vain. The crew stood sullen together, as if to back one another, and put forward a spokesman to say that "there was not one of them the captain hadn't started, and stopped his grog a dozen times: he had made the ship hell to them; and now her masts and yards and hull might go there along with her skipper, for them."

Roberts received this tidings in sullen silence. "Don't tell that Dodd, whatever you do," said he. "They will come round now they have had their growl: they are too near home to shy away their pay."

Robarts had not sufficient insight into character to know that Dodd would instantly have sided with him against mutiny.

But at this juncture the ex-captain of the Agra was down in the cabin with his fellow-passengers preparing a general remonstrance: he had a chart before him, and a pair of compasses in his hand.

"St. Catharine's point lay about eight miles to windward at noon; and we have been drifting South and East this twelve hours, through lying to on the starboard tack: and besides the ship has been conned as slovenly as she is sailed. I've seen her allowed to break off a dozen times, and gather more leeway: ah, here is Captain Robarts: Captain, you saw the rate we passed the revenue cutter. That vessel was nearly stationary; so what we passed her at was our own rate of drifting, and our least rate; putting all this together we can't be many miles from the French coast, and, unless we look sharp and beat to windward, I pronounce the ship in danger."

A horse-laugh greeted this conclusion.

"We are nearer Yarmouth sands than France, I promise you: and nothing under our lee nearer than Rotterdam."

A loud cry from the deck above, "A LIGHT ON THE LEE BOW!"

"There!" cried Robarts, with an oath: "foul

of her next! through me listening to your nonsense. He ran upon deck, and shouted through his trumpet, "All hands wear ship!"

The crew, who had heard the previous cry, obeyed orders in the presence of an immediate danger: and perhaps their growl had really relieved their ill humor. Robarts with delight saw them come tumbling up, and gave his orders lustily:

"Brail up the trysel! Up with the helm! in with the weather main brace! square the after yards!"

The ship's bow turned from the wind, and, as soon as she got way on her, Robarts ran below again; and entered the cabin triumphant.

"That is all right; and now, Captain Dodd, a word with you: you will either retire at once to your cabin, or will cease to breed disaffection in my crew, and groundless alarm in my passengers, by instilling your own childish, ignorant fears. The ship has been underlogged a hundred miles, and but for my caution in lying to for clear weather we should be groping among the Fern isl—"


An unheard of shock threw the speaker and all the rest in a mass on the floor, smashed every lamp, put out every light: and with a fierce grating noise, the ship was hard and fast on the French coast, with her stern to the sea.

One awful moment of silence; then amidst shrieks of agony, the sea struck her like a rolling rock, solid to crush, liquid to drown: and the comb of a wave smashed the cabin windows and rushed in among them as they floundered on the floor; and wetted and chilled them to the marrow; a voice in the dark cried, "Oh God! we are dead men!"


THE harvest-moon o'er the battle-plain

Shines dim in the filmy eyes of the dead,

And the yellow wealth of the later grain,

Ground by the millstones of death and pain, And wet with the life-blood of the slain,

Is kneaded to horrible bread.

The dying by twos and threes, as night

Kisses their brows with cooling breath, Gather, with failing outward sight,

To tell of the inward visions bright

That rise like a tender morning light

Over the hills of death.


Two who have stood up hand in hand,

Brothers to-day as in years gone by,

When, on the slopes of the Northern land, Was braided closely each separate strand

Of their lives in a perfect, golden band,

Close to each other lie.

"Tom," says the elder, wiping slow

From his comrade's lips the crimson stain,

" Does the thirst torment you now?" "Oh no!"

Says the other, with broken voice and low,

"My wounds stopped bleeding an hour ago,

And now I am free from pain.


"Don't think of my trouble, Ben, for you

Are wounded far worse I know than I;

I am only a little stiff and blue

With lying out in the evening dew;

But Ben, you are shattered through and through:

Do you think you are going to die?"

"No, Tom, the bleeding is almost done;

I shall live this many and many a day:

And I felt all round to find my gun

As I heard the firing just as the sun

Went down; the rebels I think have run,

The noise was so far away.

"I shall live to fight as never before

In the battle's front I shall bear my part;

And when it is over, on the floor

I shall play with my boy; and by the door

My wife shall sit, with the fear no more

Of war in her gentle heart."

"Oh, Ben! the days of battle appear

A great way off; I'll forget them soon.

I have been thinking while lying' hero

It was just a year ago—a year

That I went a-nutting with Nellie dear,

In the sunny afternoon.

"The hills were as bright as hills could be,

And Nellie, she wore a dress like down,

And under the green old chestnut-tree,

Pelted by dropping nuts, sat she

Looking up with half scared eyes at me

As I shook out the chestnuts brown.


"I came down safe, and she kissed me then

With a face as glad as the happy sun,

And she gave me a handful of brown nuts, Ben;

They lay so soft in her hand that when

I took them they slid and got back again

Somehow, so I kept but one.

"I have that nut in my knapsack still:

I shall go for more with Nellie soon:

They are ripe by this time up on the hill.

To-morrow, perhaps, I shall go—I am ill

And its cloudy to-night—but to-morrow will

Be fair in the afternoon.


"I am going a-nutting with Nellie, and you

Will sit with your wife and boy at home;

The day is bright as ever I knew,

And the chestnuts have ripened the summer through,

Still as the love in your eyes of blue—

Nellie—dear Nellie, come!"

Night on the battle-plain stained with gore,

Night in the eves now closed for aye;

But. a morning bathes a nightless shore

Where a maiden watches and waits no more,

Nor a wife sits mute by a cottage-door,

With a child that forgets to play.




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