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56. after the fight.

One of the boys lies dead in his tent,
     All alone.
Soldier, go in, go in,
     And smooth back his hair,
And close the dead eyes,
     So dreamily blue,
That are staring straight through
     The night, toward the skies,
Where his soul has gone!

Ay, and we made a desperate charge
     Through the smoke,
And the terrible roar, for the guns
     That had growled all day
From the rebel right--
     Rank after rank,
On our wearied flank,
     Had gone down in the fight,
When those cannons spoke.

Scorching hot, from their grinning jaws,
     With a shout,
Came the whirling shot
     And the bursting shell,
And the air grew gray
     With the drifting smoke,
That quivered and broke
     And heaved and fell,
When the roar burst out.

And Death rode over the battle-field,
     Through the storm,
Like the withering breath of a curse;
     And his voice rang out,.
With a shrill report,
     When the rifles flashed
And the bayonet gashed
     The quivering heart,
And the knife struck home.

[43] Up through the smoke and the driving shot,
     And the strife,
Ring the bugle-notes sounding a charge;
     And the spurs strike deep,
And away we plunge,
     With a deaf'ning shout,
And our swords are out,
     For the ghastly lunge
At the foeman's life.

Still are the guns, for a space, as though
     Without breath;
And our men go gallantly down,
     With unbroken ranks,
And a shout for the “Stars.”
     There's a swift, bright flash
From the guns, and a crash,
     And the red earth jars
'Neath the thunder of death.

And many a brave boy fell when that fire
     Burst out.
Yet we hurled the foe heavily back,
     In the fierce, wild fight,
And the victory was won;
     But the dead lay white,
In the ghastly light,
     As the sinking sun
Looked in on the rout.

This one came from the fight with a ball
     In his side;
And he sleeps so peacefully now
     That we'll leave him to rest,
By our camp on the hill.
     Yet never will come,
To the loved ones at home,
     Who watch for him still,
The Soldier who died.

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