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A midnight scene at Vicksburgh.

by Horace B. Durant, Company A, One Hundredth Regiment Penn. V., First Division Ninth Army Corps.
By Mississippi's mighty tide, our camp-fires flick'ring glow,
O'er weary, tented, slumb'ring men, are burning dim and low;
Calm be their rest beneath the shade of bending forest bough,
And soft the night-wind as it creeps across the dreamer's brow;
The hot glare that to-morrow shines Within this Southern land
May drink its draught of crimson life that stains the burning sand;
And some, alas! of this brave band their mortal course shall run,
And be but ghastly, mould'ring clay ere sets another sun.
'Tis midnight lone. The moon has climbed high up the eastern steeps,
While in her holy, pensive gaze the trembling dewdrop weeps;
Across the river's moaning flow, the bold, gray bluffs arise,
Like banks of rugged, slumb'ring clouds against the sapphire skies.;
There Vicksburgh stands upon the slope and on the frowning height,
While spire and dome gleam strangely out upon the fearful night.
Ay, there is fear within the gloom, such fear as guilt may know,
When it has drawn upon its crimes the swift, avenging blow.
There comes no slumber to the eyes that gaze with horror dread
Upon the upturned, frightful face of all the mangled dead.
There is no peace to those who list the shriek of woe and pain
That, never ceasing, rises from the weeping and the slain.
Proud one, thy hour of doom is traced upon the burning wall,
And leaguered round with armed hosts, thy boasted might shall fall.
See, where the smoke of battle hangs, above the water's breast!
See how it wreathes the trodden height and winds along their crest!
Around, above, both friend and foe, the dead, the dying-all,
It floats and wraps the dreadful scene in one vast funeral pall!
Look there, that lightning flash, close by the lurid, winding shore!
See how the flaming shell mounts up! Hark to the awful roar!
The shell, up higher, higher still; the zenith reached at last,
Down, down it goes, with fiery curve, in thunder bursts, 'tis past;
Another — there, and there, with vengeful scream, and orb of fire,
They circle through the skies! Look there! it bursts above the spire!
List! list! Do ye not hear that cry, that shrieking comes away
Where fell that dreadful, burning bolt, to mangle and to slay?
Did you not hear that horrid crash of shivered timbers then,
As bursting down through roof and house, ‘mongst women, children, men,
Upon the cowering throng it fell, and with sulphurous breath,
Spread fiery ruin all around within that house of death?
The ramparts answer. Flash on flash run all along their line,
And many a gleaming, hissing track athwart the heavens shine;
'Tis all in vain; their shot and shell fall short of every mark;
Or, wildly erring, sullen plunge beneath the waters dark.
'Tis all in vain; our marksmen true, with an unerring aim,
Behind their very ramparts lie, and bathe them red in flame;
No foeman bold above those works may show his daring form;
Down sentry, gunner, soldier, go beneath that leaden storm!
Thou frowning battlement, Rebellion's only, fondest trust,
With all their hopes, thy stubborn strength must topple to the dust;
These waters, mingling from afar, as they sweep to the sea,
Proclaim that they must still unite, that they must still be free!
The time shall come when these proud hills no more shall quake with dread;
Beneath their peaceful breast shall lie the heaps of
gory dead; [7]
Redeemed from slavery's blighting curse, the battle's war shall cease,
And all Columbia's broad domain shall smile in golden peace.

Vicksburgh, Miss., June 21, 1863.

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Hotel Vicksburgh (1)
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