A.D.L., 'The Fall of Fort Sumter'

The Fall of Fort Sumter

‘T was in the early morning— all Charleston lay asleep,
While yet the purple darkness was resting on the deep,
In the middle of the channel Fort Sumter stood afar,
Above it waved the banner which yet bore every star.

Outside the bar, at sunset, seven steamers we could see,
We knew they brought the slaves of slaves who would coerce the free.
At midnight came the order that when the day should break
The guns from out our batteries must then their challenge speak.

Oh, how anxiously we waited for the dawning of the day!
There was little sleeping all that night in the forts of Charleston bay.
All night along the seashore and up the shelving strand,
Like the ghosts of our old heroes, did the curling sea-mist stand.

They saw their children watching there, as they had watched before,
When a British fleet had crossed the bar and threatened Charleston shore.
But when the first loud gun announced the dawning of the day,
The mists they broke and, lingering, they slowly rolled away.

When the first red streak upon the east told of the rising sun,
‘T was then the cannonading from the batteries begun.
All day the cannon thundered along the curving shore,
All day the sea resounded with Sumter’s steady roar.

When the land-breeze from the city brought the noon-chimes clear and strong,
We saw the starry flag no more which had floated there so long;
For while the fight was raging we’d seen the banner fall,
A round-shot cut the staff in twain, and tore it from the wall.

But when they raised no other our General sent them one,
For they’d kept the lost one bravely, as true men should have done.
The fleet turned slowly southward; we saw the last ship go,
We had saved old Carolina from the insults of the foe.

Oh, we were very thankful when we lay down to rest,
And saw the darkness fall again upon the harbor’s breast.
For now above Fort Sumter floats a banner yet unknown,
Upon it are but seven stars, where thirty-two had shone.

by A.D.L., of Raleigh, N.C.

Iron Brigadier: The Fall of Fort Sumter, April 14, 1861

Ewart Mackintosh, 'Victory and Failure'

Victory and Failure
Arras, April 9th
Roeux, April 23rd, 1917

Not for the day of victory
I mourn I was not there,
The hard fierce rush of slaying men,
The hands up in the air,
But for the torn ranks struggling on
The old brave hopeless way,
The broken charge, the slow retreat,
And I so far away.

And listening to the tale of Roeux
I think I see again
The steady grim despairing ranks,
The courage and the pain,
The bodies of my friends that lie
Unburied in the dew
Oh ! friends of mine, and I not there
To die along with you.

By Ewart Alan Mackintosh

Battle of Arras, 9 April to 16 May 1917

Edmund Clarence Stedman, 'Sumter'

(April 12, 1861)

Came the morning of that day
When the God to whom we pray
Gave the soul of Henry Clay
To the land;
How we loved him, living, dying!
But his birthday banners flying
Saw us asking and replying
Hand to hand.

For we knew that far away,
Round the fort in Charleston Bay,
Hung the dark impending fray.
Soon to fall;
And that Sumter’s brave defender
Had the summons to surrender
Seventy loyal hearts and tender —
(Those were all!)

And we knew the April sun
Lit the length of many a gun —
Hosts of batteries to the one
Island crag;
Guns and mortars grimly frowning,
Johnson, Moultrie, Pinckney, crowning,
And ten thousand men disowning
The old flag.

Oh, the fury of the fight
Even then was at its height!
Yet no breath, from noon till night.
Reached us here;
We had almost ceased to wonder,
And the day had faded under.
When the echo of the thunder
Filled each ear!

Then our hearts more fiercely beat,
As we crowded on the street,
Hot to gather and repeat
All the tale;
All the doubtful chances turning.
Till our souls with shame were burning,
As if twice our bitter yearning
Could avail!

Who had fired the earliest gun ?
Was the fort by traitors won ?
Was there succor ? What was done ?
Who could know ?
And once more our thoughts would wander
To the gallant, lone commander,
On his battered ramparts grander
Than the foe.

Not too long the brave shall wait:
On their own heads be their fate,
Who against the hallowed State
Dare begin;
Flag defied and compact riven!
In the record of high Heaven
How shall Southern men be shriven
For the sin!

by Edmund Clarence Stedman

[Henry Clay had been dead since 1852, but according to Stedman, they were still celebrating his April 12th birthday when the battle of Fort Sumter broke out in 1861.]

American Civil War began April 12, 1861

Maggie Butt, 'Lipstick'


In war time women turn to red
swivel-up scarlet and carmine
not in solidarity with spilt blood
but as a badge of beating hearts.

This crimson is the shade of poets
silenced for speaking against torture,
this vermillion is art
surviving solitary confinement,

this cerise defies the falling bombs
the snipers taking aim at bread-queues,
this ruby’s the resilience of girls
who tango in the pale-lipped face of death.

by Maggie Butt
(Based on observations in Bosnia and Afghanistan by war photographer Jenny Matthews.
Confirmed by the Max Factor catalogue 1945.)

Norman Wilson, 'Battle of Vimy Ridge'

Battle of Vimy Ridge
(April 9-10 1917)

A grateful nation does honour you from ocean, land to sea.
For the sacrifices you have made as your tale is now, etched in history.
To all our soldiers and patriots of valour, where now are thee.
Upon the wind-speed of time, your souls will run forever free.

The residential-soldier lies within the Ridge’s hallowed grounds.
Now we mourn for thee in a place where the guns did once sound.
From trenches of hell you came, marching in two lines abreast.
Upon no man’s land, you met your destiny, where many found their final rest.

Under the fire of a thousand guns, you made your famous charge.
Forward from trench-hole to trench-hole, you made your nation large.
Twenty thousand brave lads we sent, carrying seventy pounds of gear.
Face to face against the Huns on the Western Front, never to flinch in fear.

After two days of fighting in the all-pervasive mud the guns silence fell.
The enemy fled from Vimy Ridge after the battle, which came from a depiction of HELL.
Taps now sounds for those that died, once a year in memory of each man.
Now a National Memorial stands on two hundred and fifty acres of French land.

Where they say battle sounds still carry on the winds on a starlit night.
If you listen closely, you can hear the voices carrying on the victorious fight.
Listen, listen to the winds of war I say and you will hear.
The brave men and their battle cries echo within your ears.

“Rally Lads”, rally they cry. “Rally lads, we will stare them in the eyes”.
“Attack, Attack, we will make the Huns pay in blood”, was the battle cry.
As the most complete and decisive victory of the Great War for them still rages on.
For them there can be no rest for the six thousand that died and now are gone.

Lest we forget, the quiet stills upon the air shall never let their light go out.
From ghostly whispers, to end all wars, where voices of dead once did shout.

By Norman Wilson
"This is a tribute to my Grandfather, who served and lost his left leg at Vimy Ridge."

The Battle of Vimy Ridge, April 9-12 1917

Francis Bret Harte, 'Cadet Grey - Canto III'

Cadet Grey - Canto III

Where the sun sinks through leagues of arid sky,
Where the sun dies o'er leagues of arid plain,
Where the dead bones of wasted rivers lie,
Trailed from their channels in yon mountain chain;
Where day by day naught takes the wearied eye
But the low-rimming mountains, sharply based
On the dead levels, moving far or nigh,
As the sick vision wanders o'er the waste,
But ever day by day against the sunset traced:

There moving through a poisonous cloud that stings
With dust of alkali the trampling band
Of Indian ponies, ride on dusky wings
The red marauders of the Western land;
Heavy with spoil, they seek the trail that brings
Their flaunting lances to that sheltered bank
Where lie their lodges; and the river sings
Forgetful of the plain beyond, that drank
Its life blood, where the wasted caravan sank.

They brought with them the thief's ignoble spoil,
The beggar's dole, the greed of chiffonnier,
The scum of camps, the implements of toil
Snatched from dead hands, to rust as useless here;
All they could rake or glean from hut or soil
Piled their lean ponies, with the jackdaw's greed
For vacant glitter. It were scarce a foil
To all this tinsel that one feathered reed
Bore on its barb two scalps that freshly bleed!

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By Francis Bret Harte

Arthur Conan Doyle, 'The Song of the Bow'

The Song of the Bow

What of the bow?

The bow was made in England:
Of true wood, of yew-wood,
The wood of English bows;
So men who are free
Love the old yew-tree
And the land where the yew-tree grows.

What of the cord?

The cord was made in England:
A rough cord, a tough cord,
A cord that bowmen love;
And so we will sing
Of the hempen string
And the land where the cord was wove.

What of the shaft?

The shaft was cut in England:
A long shaft, a strong shaft,
Barbed and trim and true;
So we’ll drink all together
To the grey goose-feather
And the land where the grey goose flew.

What of the mark?

Ah, seek it not in England:
A bold mark, our old mark
Is waiting over-sea.
When the strings harp in chorus,
And the lion flag is o’er us,
It is there that our mark will be.

What of the men?

The men were bred in England:
The bowmen—the yeomen,
The lads of dale and fell.
Here’s to you—and to you!
To the hearts that are true
And the land where the true hearts dwell.

by Arthur Conan Doyle

Anthony C. Deane, 'The Ballad of the Billycock'

The Ballad of the Billycock

It was the good ship Billycock , with thirteen men aboard,
Athirst to grapple with their country's foes,—
A crew, 'twill be admitted, not numerically fitted
To navigate a battleship in prose.

It was the good ship Billycock put out from Plymouth Sound,
While lustily the gallant heroes cheered,
And all the air was ringing with the merry bo'sun's singing,
Till in the gloom of night she disappeared.

But when the morning broke on her, behold, a dozen ships,
A dozen ships of France around her lay,
(Or, if that isn't plenty, I will gladly make it twenty),
And hemmed her close in Salamander Bay.

Then to the Lord High Admiral there spake a cabin-boy:
"Methinks," he said, "the odds are somewhat great,
And, in the present crisis, a cabin-boy's advice is
That you and France had better arbitrate!"

"Pooh!" said the Lord High Admiral, and slapped his manly chest,
"Pooh! That would be both cowardly and wrong;
Shall I, a gallant fighter, give the needy ballad-writer
No suitable material for song?"

"Nay—is the shorthand-writer here?—I tell you, one and all,
I mean to do my duty, as I ought;
With eager satisfaction let us clear the decks for action
And fight the craven Frenchmen!" So they fought.

And (after several stanzas which as yet are incomplete,
Describing all the fight in epic style)
When the Billycock was going, she'd a dozen prizes towing
(Or twenty, as above) in single file!

Ah, long in glowing English hearts the story will remain,
The memory of that historic day,
And, while we rule the ocean, we will picture with emotion
The Billycock in Salamander Bay!

P.S.—I've lately noticed that the critics—who, I think,
In praising my productions are remiss—
Quite easily are captured, and profess themselves enraptured,
By patriotic ditties such as this,

For making which you merely take some dauntless Englishmen,
Guns, heroism, slaughter, and a fleet—
Ingredients you mingle in a metre with a jingle,
And there you have your masterpiece complete!

Why, then, with labour infinite, produce a book of verse
To languish on the "All for Twopence" shelf?
The ballad bold and breezy comes particularly easy—
I mean to take to writing it myself!

By Anthony C. Deane

Herman Melville, 'Shiloh, A Requiem'

Shiloh, A Requiem

Skimming lightly, wheeling still,
The swallows fly low
Over the fields in clouded days,
The forest-field of Shiloh--
Over the field where April rain
Solaced the parched one stretched in pain
Through the pause of night
That followed the Sunday fight
Around the church of Shiloh--
The church so lone, the log-built one,
That echoed to many a parting groan
And natural prayer
Of dying foemen mingled there--
Foemen at morn, but friends at eve--
Fame or country least their care:
(What like a bullet can undeceive!)
But now they lie low,
While over them the swallows skim,
And all is hushed at Shiloh.

By Herman Melville

Battle of Shiloh, April 6-7, 1862