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[52]

70. move on the columns!

by W. D. G.
Very Respectfully Inscribed to “The powers that be,” at Washington and Elsewhere.

I.
     Move on the columns! Why delay?
Our soldiers sicken in their camps;
     The summer heats, the autumn damps,
Have sapp'd their vigor day by day;
     And now the winter comes apace,
With death-chills in its cold embrace,
     More fatal than the battle-fray.

II.
     Move on the columns! Hesitate
No longer what to plan or do:
     Our cause is good — our men are true--
This fight is for the flag, the State,
     The Union, and the hopes of man;
And Right will end what Wrong began,
     For God the right will vindicate.

III.
     Move on the columns! If the land
Is locked by winter, take the sea;
     No possible barrier can be
So fatal to a rightful stand,
     As wavering purpose when at Day.
This way, or that--“at once! to-day!”
     Were worth ten thousand men at hand.

IV.
     Move on the columns! With the sweep
Of eagles let them strike the foe.
     The hurricane lays the forest low
Momentum wings the daring leap
     That clears the chasm: the lightning stroke
Shivers the wind-defying oak:
     The earthquake rocks th' eterna. steep.

V.
     Move on the columns! Why have sprung
Our myriad hosts, from hill and plain?
     Leaving the sickle in the grain--
Closing the harvest-hymn half sung--
     Half filled the granary and the mow,
Unturned the sod, untouched the plough
     Scythes rusting where they last were swung.

VI.
     Move on the columns! They are here
To found anew a people's faith;
     To save from treason and from death
A nation which they all revere;
     And on each manly brow is set
A purpose, such as never yet
     Was thwarted, when, as now, sincere.

VII.
     Move on the columns! Earth contains
No guerdon for the good and free,
     Like that which bless'd our Liberty;
And while its banner still remains
     The symbol of united power,
Nor man nor fiend can tell the hour
     In which its star-lit glory wanes.

VIII.
     Move on the columns strong and bright!
Strike down the sacrilegious hands
     That clutch and wield the battle-brands
which menace with their Wrong our Right:
     Words now are wasted: glittering steel
Alone can make this last appeal:
     They've willed it so-and we must fight.

IX.
     Move on the columns! If they go
By ways they had not thought to take,
     To fields we had not meant to make,
Or if they bring unthought — of woe,
     Let that which woke the fiery wrath
Fall, scorch'd and blackening in its path.
     Not man but God may stay the blow.
Move on the columns!

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