6. the Black horse guard: a tale of the battle of Bull Run.
And gaily shone their trappings, and glistened in the sun;
We saw the “well-kept” horses, and marked the stalwart men,
And each Zouave his rifle took, and tried the charge again.
On, on they came in close-set ranks. O, 'twas a goodly sight!
Their horses shone like ebony, their arms were burnished bright;
A breathless silence; then there came a ringing down the van,
“Lie low! Remember Ellsworth! let each one pick his man.”
A thousand rifle-flashes; then shrieks and groans of pain,
And clouds of dust uprising over the fatal plain,
'Mid which the gleaming bayonets seemed like the lightning's flash;
The cry, “Remember Ellsworth,” and the deadly forward dash!
A silence;--horses riderless, and scouring from the fray,
While here and there a trooper spurs his worn steed away.
The smoke dispels — the dust blows off — subsides the fatal stir;
Virginia's Black Horse Cavalry is with the things that were.
A wailing on the sunny slopes along the Shenandoah,
A weeping where the York and James deep-rolling torrents pour;
Where Rappahannock peaceful glides, on many a fertile plain,
A cry of anguish for the loved who ne'er may come again.
The widow clasps the fatherless in silent, speechless grief,
Or weeps as if in floods of tears the soul could find relief;
The Old Dominion weeps, and mourns full many a gallant son,
Who sleeps upon that fatal field beside that craggy run.
Oh, matrons of Virginia! with you has been the blame;
It was for you to bend the twig before its ripeness came ;--
For you a patriot love to form, a loyal mind to nurse;
But ye have left your task undone, and now ye feel the curse.
Think ye Virginia can stand and bar the onward way
Of Freedom in her glorious march, and conquer in the fray?
Have ye so soon the truths forgot which Washington let fall,
To cherish Freedom ever, and Union above all?
Go to! for thou art fallen, and lost thy high estate,--
Forgotten all thy glories; ignoble be thy fate!
Yet from the past's experience a lesson may be won:
Though all thy fields be steeped in blood, still Freedom's march is on.
Glen Ridge, July 27, 1861.