The Black brigade at Port Hudson.
by John A. Dorgan.Not fair, for they too long have borne
The badge of shame, the lash of scorn;
Not fair, for seamed with many a scar
Their spirits like their bodies are;
Nor learned in books, nor smooth in speech,
Whom tyrants made it crime to teach;
But strong of limb and true of heart,
Behold them in their manhood smart
For this their trial-day arrayed,
The soldiers of the Black Brigade.
Forward! And with one pulse sublime,
And ringing tread of ancient rhyme,
They sweep; and forward as they sweep,
The thunders of the cannon leap
Upon them, and their bleeding host
Within the battle-cloud is lost;
Flash sword and bayonet, shot and shell
Fly screaming through that mist of hell,
But onward, onward, undismayed,
They hold their way — the Black Brigade.
And on, and on, and on they tread;
And all the field is heaped with dead,
And slippery grows the grass with gore,
But onward, onward, yet once more.
In vain! In vain! The moated wall
Mocks them, but valiantly they fall;
Anselmo dies, but to his breast
The flag he bore in life is pressed;
Or knave or fool who did not aid
The heroes of the Black Brigade.
Again, again, and yet again
They charge, but ah! too few, in vain.
The negro's courage is in vain,
Nor can atone the Saxon's brain;
The day is lost; on every side
Have Saxons fled; let none deride
Who mark them, as with footsteps slow
And eyes of rage they backward go;
And all who saw how few huzzaed
In honor of the Black Brigade.
But not for them was lost the day,
Who made like Winkelried a way,
And bridge-like o'er whose bodies dead
Shall Freedom to their brethren tread;
The sickle they shall grasp no more,
But harvest in the fields of war;
Their history shall keep the fame
Of these, who dying overcame;
Their poets in their songs shall braid
The memory of the Black Brigade.