previous next

116. songs of the rebels.

Fort Sumter: a heroic poem, in three Cantos.

by Charles Edward Leverett, Jr.
Canto I.
Now glory be to Uncle Abe, and Scott, his lion pet,
And Seward, the righteous pontifex, who rules the Cabinet;
And glory to the mighty fleet that stood off Charleston Bar,
And left the dauntless Anderson to bear the brunt of war!
The Patriarch in Washington had summoned to his side
His squad of Solons — brilliant men, the rabble's joy and pride,
And some were looking very black, and some were looking blue;
The nation was at loggerheads, and none knew what to do;
And little light had yet been thrown upon the States' affairs,
or Abe, though good at splitting rails, was bad at splitting hairs.
Then up arose that valiant man, Lieutenant-General Scott,
And drew his sword, like Philip's son, and cut the Gordian knot.
“Now, by this waxed moustache,” he said, and looked around the group,
“And by these lips that tasted once a ‘hasty plate of soup,’
I raise my voice for horrid war--'tis just the thing for me;
Too long it is since I have had a military spree.
With all our gallant peddlers, our knack at making clocks,
Our taste for wooden nutmegs, and glorious Plymouth Rocks,
Our reverence for a Higher Law, our godly pulpit rant,
With all the talent which in Yankee land are now extant,
A generalissimo, like me, would find it no great thing
To gallop through the South, and whip the Chivalry, by Jing!”
He said, the hero whose chief joy was hearing bullets whiz,
And drew a red bandana forth, and wiped his warlike phiz;
Around the room a stifled buzz of admiration went,
When on his trembling knees arose the doughty President.
“Now, by old Andrew Jackson's shade, and by the oaths he swore,
And by his hickory stick, and by the thunder of his snore,
And by the proud contempt he showed for Carolina gents,
And English grammar,” quoth Old Abe, “them's jist my sentiments.
Great Seward shall gull the Southrons, like a wily diplomat,
With promises and flummery, with ‘tother, this and that;
And I will launch a squadron forth, in secret, on the seas,
And reinforce Fort Sumter with ‘old horse,’ and bread and cheese.
Poor Doubleday, that wretched man, whose appetite ne'er fails,
Has been obliged, for three weeks now, to eat his finger nails,
While underneath his very nose, the rebels sit and cram
Their throats with beef, and turtle-soup, and English peas, and lamb.
Ho! then, for Carolina, my veterans brave and true,
'Tis high time that the Chivalry should learn a thing or two;
I swear my hungry soger-boys shall soon have meat and drink,
I, gallant spouse of Mrs. Abe, and Pa of Bobby Link!”
So spake the “old man eloquent,” and hushed he there and then;
The Cabinet all looked devout, and answered him Amen.

Canto II.
Oh, 'twas a fearful thing to see, just at the break of day,
That terrible Armada sailing up through Charleston Bay;
Battalions of Palmetto troops stood marshalled on the strand,
To greet their Yankee cousins, and to welcome them on land;
And banners waved, and tattoos beat, and cannon lined the beach,
All ready to salute, when lo! they anchored — out of reach!
A storm was bursting from the sky--'twas sweeping from the main;
Its clouds were rolling wreaths of smoke, its rain was iron rain;
Its lightning was the lurid bomb, its thunder was the roar
Of mortar and columbiad, bristling on the sandy shore;
A thousand guns were flashing fire, a thousand whistling balls
Were falling in hot showers upon Fort Sumter's blackened walls. [92]
They fought, “the Saucy Seventy,” like brave men, long and well,
With wondrous skill and fortitude they dodged the hurtling shell;
Undauntedly they blazed away, with not a single crumb
Of dinner to console them — not one cheering drop of rum;
When, seeing 'twas impossible to fast and fight much more,
They strike their flag, and Foster falls — perspiring at each pore!
Hall waves his gleaming sword, looks proud defiance at his foes,
Then sinks exhausted, bleeding most profusely — at his nose;
And Doubleday, his longing eye fixed on the distant ships,
Collapses, with “My stomach! oh, my stomach!” on his lips.

Canto III.
A telegram is flying North, 'tis pithy, sharp and curt--
Fort Sumter's taken — tell Old Abe that no-bod-y is hurt.”
A panic strikes the Cabinet, they wriggle in their chairs;
Seward mutters “curses deep, not loud” --Welles tries to say his prayers;
Old Uncle Abe, their royal liege, grows pallid at the news;
Uneasy twitch the nimble feet within his nimble shoes;
All downward through his spindle-shanks a nervous tremor flows,
And fast the courage oozes from the hero's valiant toes;
His hair begins to stand on end, his eyes are full of dread;
Already in the streets he hears the Southern. cohorts tread;
Already through the White House gates he sees the legions pour;
Already dreams their battle-axe is thundering at his door;
Already feels fierce cow-hide boots assail him in the rear,
And finds, alas, the seat of war uncomfortably near!
“Now if,” he cries, “my councillors, ye are inclined to flee,
(For 'tis not every one who'd like to face the Chivalry,)
And if the prospect of a fray should fill you with alarm,
If ye demand a Captain who will lead you out of harm,
Pack up your spoils, and while the Gin'ral keeps the foe at bay,
Put ye your trust in Providence, and set your legs in play,
And follow where this soger-cloak, all streaming in my flight,
Is like a streak of lightning seen-dissolving from the sight.
Ho, ho! for Illinois, my braves! hip, hip, hurrah, away!
Do what you choose — for me, why, I'll be hanged if I will stay!”
Now glory be to Uncle Abe, and Scott, his bully pet,
And Seward, the cook and bottle-washer of the Cabinet;
And glory to the mighty fleet that stood off Charleston Bar,
And left the dauntless Anderson to bear the brunt of war!

--Charleston Mercury.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
William H. Seward (3)
Winfield Scott (3)
Doubleday (2)
Welles (1)
Plymouth Rocks (1)
Pa (1)
Charles Edward Leverett (1)
Andrew Jackson (1)
Hall (1)
Abe (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: