96. bombardment of forts Walker and Beauregard.

by Isaac M'Clellan.

Part I.--the arrival.

Six-and-sixty gallant ships, tempest-toss'd
By the angry seas assailed, well-nigh lost
Off hostile Carolina's sandy coast,
Spread the straining, daring sail;
They had come from Northern shores far away,
They had battled with old ocean's stormy spray,
But triumphant still their course southward lay
Through the equinoctial gale.

Wild surges in mountainous billows rose,
Wild the gale its majestic trumpet blows,
Wild the night with intenser darkness grows,
As the buffeting, brave fleet,
Struggles on, staggers blindly through the gloom--
No light, save the lightning, to illume,
To warn them where the tumbling breakers boom,
Where the eddying whirlpools beat;

But the perils of the deep ‘scap'd at last,
With torn and tattered canvas on each mast,
Behold the noble navy sailing fast
By the headlands of the shore!
Like a flock of white-wing'd owl, see! they come;
Like the sea-birds to their nests struggling home,
When the tempests out at sea lash the foam,
And the ruffian surges roar.

When they anchored by those shores so serene,
What a bright — what a soft, delicious scene!
With hues of rose, and hues of living green,
Beamed upon the seamen's view!
Not a ripple, not a dimple crisp'd the deep;
So pellucid, that the coral groves that sleep
Far below, were disclosed in all their sweep,
Gay with every prismy hue!

Far along the curving shores gleam'd the sand;
High aloft the branching palms would expand,
And the orange and the lime o'er the land
Wav'd their globes of sparkling gold;
Like emeralds shine the grasses and the leaves;
The grape its fruit and foliage interweaves,
And the ripened Indian corn, with its sheaves,
Is in ruddy bloom unroll'd.

White as foam shone the cotton o'er the plain,
As if snows, and the sleety, icy rain,
Their flaky storm has showered forth amain
From winter's frosty urn;
Soft, soft the odorous land-breeze seaward blows,
Delicious with magnolia and the rose,
And the spicy air so sweet as it flows,
When flowers their incense burn.

Part II.--the battle.

'Twas a fair scene — a grand, enchanting view;
Yet o'er that land, from fort to fortress, flew
A traitor's banner, while a rebel crew
In arms each fortress holds.
Not there the brave, bright, starry flag might float,
Cast its broad shield o'er rampart and o'er moat,
Nor Freedom's battery, from its iron throat,
Salute the spangled folds.

Fair glanced the day along Port Royal's tide,
Glanced o'er embattled forts on either side,
Where Hilton Head and Low Bay Point defied
The armada of the free;
A martial show, that vast, invading fleet!
When rose their flag, when mustering-drums were beat;
When rang the cheer that all the shores repeat,
Re-echoing o'er the sea!

Black men-of-war, their decks array'd for fight;
Vast transports, glittering with battalions bright;
Gunboats and steamships--'twas a gallant sight--
A panorama grand!
Each ship, like wrestler, stripped to dare the fray;
The guns, full-shotted, rang'd in long array;
The crews, impatient for the battle-day,
A stern and stalwart band.

Then came the conflict. From Fort Walker's wall
Glanced the red fires, fast sped the hissing ball;
Thick smokes, volcanic, hover'd like a pall,
A dim, sulphurous vail;
The Bay Point batteries, like a furnace, cast
Their iron tempest in incessant blast;
How might survive the crews, the spar, the mast,
Before that fearful hail!

Yet all in vain! The star-flag still arose,
Nailed to each mast, a target for its foes;
The rough tars cheer, and on each frigate goes
In undismay'd career;
Stern Dupont leads his Wabash to the goal,
And Pawnee, Susquehanna, Seminole,
And stout Bienville their dread thunders roll,
'Mid shout and battle-cheer.

Stern Dupont, in that tempest's very midst,
Through lurid flames, and the artillery's mist,
Where crash'd the ball, and hurtling bullets hiss'd,
The noble frigate led. [76]
For three long, bloody hours, he stubborn sto
Environed by that fierce and fiery flood;
While blush'd his decks with bubbling, loyal blood,
With scuppers chok'd and red.

Three times that triple dance he fearless led;
Three times that circuit, that ellipse so dread;
Three times, 'mid splintering spar and falling dead,
He led the merciless path;
Three times his frigates and his gunboats well
Replied with hot-shot and with bursting shell,
nfilading those walls, that quak'd and fell
Beneath the scorching wrath!

Thick flew the shell within each rampart's breath;
High rose the brown sand in that storm of death;
So o'er the desert doth Sirocco's breath
The caravan betray;
For three long hours that hurricane of gore
Through stony embrasure and rampart tore;
Guns were dismantled, men in many a score
Were withering swept away.

In vain their toil! In vain the rebel strife;
No human courage might withstand, with life,
That storm, when every moment was so rife
With desolating scourge!
They fled, they flew, their arms aside were thrown;
No guns were spiked, no standards were pluck'd down,
But, wild with terror, o'er the country strewn,
Their frantic race they urge!

So ends the strife. The victor's guns are mute;
The shouting squadron their brave flag salute;
The veteran sailor and the raw recruit
Their deafening cheerings pour;
Prone drops the flag from yonder rebel mast--
Soon to the breeze the Union Stars are cast;
Avenged is Sumter's humbled flag at last,
On Carolina's shore!

Flag of our hearts, our symbol and our trust,
Though treason trample thy bright folds in dust,
Though dark rebellion, vile ambition's lust,
Conspire to tear thee down;
Millions of loyal lips will thee caress;
Millions of loyal hearts thy stars will bless,
Millions of loyal arms will round thee press,
To guard thy old renown!

New York, November 28.

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