To hear the clanging bells ring out from every tower and steeple;
To see our glorious flag flung wide all through the loyal land;
To know at last the North stood up a firm united band!
A call went forth through all the land: “On, on to Washington!”
On, for the Union that we prize! for Right and Freedom, on!
'Twas sunset ere the call was known, but ere the break of day,
Our brave militia were in arms, and ready for the fray.
They left the plough, forsook the loom, bade hasty, sad farewell,
To all they loved, with looks which spoke far more than words could tell;
And loving wives and mothers wept and blessed them on their way;
But, 'mid the throng of anxious ones, not one would bid them stay.
As on through loyal towns they went, 'twas one prolonged ovation;
Of all a patriot people did, would weary the narration.
On, on for Washington they pressed, for there the patriot band,
For the Union and for Liberty, for Right must take their stand.
'Twas the nineteenth of April;--O most auspicious day!
It ushered in at Lexington the bloody, fatal fray,
Baptized our Revolution; and 'twas again to be
For Massachusetts men to bleed for Freedom and the free.
Through Baltimore their pathway led, and boldly on they passed,
But bitter taunts and angry words fell on them thick and fast;
'Twas the low rabble of the town by whom the deed was done,
But men of wealth and rank were there, and urged and cheered them on.
O who shall tell of all that chanced, or in that fearful fray
Tell what was done, or truly write the history of that day!
How, not content with scoffs and taunts, the pavement up they tore,
And showered the stones upon our troops, around, behind, before.
“Why did they let them?” O alas I forgetful grows my mind;
The others had passed safely on, a few were left behind;
For thus Secession's chivalry its boldest deeds has done,
And often have they bravely fought, a hundred against one.
On, on, in close-set ranks they pressed, turned not to left or right;
They all were Massachusetts men; they never thought of flight;
But as the stones came thick and fast, the curses deep and loud,
In self-defence, at bay, they turned and fired upon the crowd.
O many a taunting traitor fell beneath their deadly fire;
But thicker flew the showers of stones, and fiercer grew their ire.
Enough — they fought their passage through, and then kept marching on,
Obedient to their country's call, to rescue Washington.
Yet not unscathed; four noble ones fell in the bloody fray,
And many carry scarring wounds in memory of that day;
And high on honor's scroll are writ the names of those who fell,
First martyrs to maintain the rights, the land we love so well.
Yes, Washington was saved, my boy: another time I'll tell
Of Freedom's armies, marshalled there, of all that there befell.
The blood then spilt at Baltimore roused all the loyal land,
And such an army sprung to birth no traitors could withstand.
I mind me when the honored dead in solemn pomp came home;
How our starry banner drooped half-mast on the high State House dome;
How minute-guns spoke sharply out, and sad the bells were tolling,
And mournfully upon the breeze the funeral dirge was rolling.
O there was that within the looks, within the eyes of men,
A stern determination, I never saw but then;
With hard-pressed lips and swimming eyes they watched the funeral train,
With bowed, uncovered heads, they stood amid the falling rain.
In vision yet I seem to see the biers with flags entwined;
The memory of that solemn dirge will never flee my mind;
And Massachusetts lifts her head more proudly at this day,
That twice in Freedom's battles her sons have led the way.
O children, guard your heritage; be to your country true;
Be proud of Massachusetts, and let her be proud of you!
Be ready in her cause to fight, and for her sake to fall!
But cherish in your heart of hearts the Union above all.