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81. Lookout mountain.

by Alfred B. Street.
For months that followed the triumph the rebels had boasted they wrought,
But which lost to them Chattanooga, thus bringing their triumph to naught;
The mountain-walled citadel city, with its outposts in billowy crowds,
Grand soarers among the lightnings, stern conquerors of the clouds!
For months, I say, had the rebels, with the eyes of their cannon, looked down
From the high-crested forehead of Lookout, the Mission's long sinuous crown;
Till Grant, our invincible hero, the winner of every fight!
Who joys in the strife, like the eagle that drinks from the storm delight!
Marshalled his war-worn legions, and, pointing to them the foe,
Kindled their hearts with the tidings that now should be stricken the blow,
The rebel to sweep from old Lookout, that cloud-post dizzily high,
Whence the taunt of his cannon and banner had affronted so long the sky.

Brave Thomas the foeman had brushed from his summit the nearest, and now
The balm of the midnight's quiet soothed Nature's agonized brow;
A midnight of murkiest darkness, and Lookout's undefined mass
Heaved grandly a frown on the welkin, a barricade nothing might pass.
Its breast was sprinkled with sparkles,. its crest was dotted with gold,
Telling the camps of the rebels secure as they deemed in their hold.
Where glimmered the creek of the Lookout, it seemed the black dome of the night
Had dropped all its stars in the valley, it glittered so over with light:
There were voices and clashings of weapons, and drum-beat and bugle and tramp,
Quick fittings athwart the broad watchfires that painted red rings through the camp:
There were figures dark edging the watchfires, and groups at the front of each tent,
And a tone like the murmur of waters all round from the valley upsent.

“D'ye see, lad, that black-looking peak?” said a sergeant, scarred over and gray,
To a boy, both in glow of a camp-fire, whence wavered their shadows away;
“Strap tightly your drum, or you'll lose it when climbing yon hill; for the word
Is to take that pricked ear of old Lookout, where Bragg's shots so often we've heard;
Our noble commander has said it, and we all should be minding our prayers,
By dawn we must plant the old flag where the rebels now shame us with theirs;
Hurrah for bold General Hooker, the leader that never knew fear,
He's to lead us! now, comrades, be ready and give at the rolls a good cheer!
I look for the time at each moment!” --just then the long-rolls swelled about,
There were tramplings of steeds and of men, there was jingle and rattle and shout;
Dark columns would glimmer and vanish, a rider flit by like a ghost--
There was movement all over., the valley, the movement and din of a host.

'Twas the legion so famed of the White Star, and led on by Geary the brave,
That was chosen to gather the laurel or find on the mountain a grave.
They crossed the dim creek of the Lookout, and toiled up the sable ascent,
Till the atoms black crawling and struggling in dense upper darkness were blent.
Mists, fitful in rain, came at daydawn, they spread in one mantle the skies,
And we that were posted below stood and watched with our hearts in our eyes;
We watched as the mists broke and joined, the quick flits and the blanks of the fray;
There was thunder, but not of the clouds; there was lightning, but redder in ray; [67]
Oh! warm rose our hopes to the White Star, oh! wild went our pleadings to heaven;
We knew, and we shuddered to know it, how fierce oft the rebels had striven;
We saw, and we shuddered to see it, the rebel flag still in the air;
Shall our boys be hurled back? God of battles! oh! bring not such bitter despair!

But the battle is rolling still up, it has plunged in the mantle o'erhead,
We hear the low hum of the volley, we see the fierce bomb-burst of red;
Still the rock in the forehead of Lookout through the rents of the windy mist shows
The horrible flag of the Cross-bar, the counterfeit rag of our foes:
Portentous it looks through the vapor, then melts to the eye, but it tells
That the rebels still cling to their stronghold, and hope for the moment dispels.
But the roll of the thunder seems louder, flame angrier smites on the eye,
The scene from the fog is laid open — a battle-field fought in the sky!
Eye to eye, hand to hand, all are struggling — ha! traitors, ha! rebels, ye know
Now the might in the arm of our heroes! dare ye bide their roused terrible blow?
They drive them, our braves drive the rebels! they flee, and our heroes pursue!
We scale rock and trunk — from their breastworks they run! oh! the joy of the view!

Hurrah! how they drive them! hurrah! how they drive the fierce rebels along!
One more cheer — still another! each lip seems as ready to burst into song.
On, on, ye bold blue-coated heroes! thrust, strike, pour your shots in amain!
Banners fly, columns rush, seen and lost in the quick, fitful gauzes of rain.
O boys! how your young blood is streaming! but falter not, drive them to rout!
From barricade, breastwork, and rifle-pit, how the scourged rebels pour out!
We see the swift plunge of the caisson within the dim background of haze,
With the shreds of platoons inward scudding, and fainter their batteries blaze;
As the mist-curtain falls all is blank; as it lifts, a wild picture out glares,
A wild shifting picture of battle, and dread our warm hopefulness shares;
But never the braves of the White Star have sullied their fame in defeat,
And they will not to-day see the triumph pass by them the foeman to greet!

No, no, for the battle is ending; the ranks on the slope of the crest
Are the true Union blue, and our banners alone catch the gleams of the west;
Though the Cross-bar still flies from the summit, we roll out oar cheering of pride!
Not in vain, O ye heroes of Lookout! O brave Union boys! have ye died!
One brief struggle more sees the banner, that blot on the sky, brushed away,
When the broad moon now basking upon us shall yield her rich lustre to-day:
She brings out the black hulk of Lookout, its outlines traced sharp in the sides,
All alive with the camps of our braves glancing down with their numberless eyes.
Ha! the darkness is roofed like an arbor with streakings of shrapnel and shell
Till it seems like the vestibule lurid that leads to the chambers of hell;
It is cleft with the fierce shooting cannon-flame, sprinkled with red dots of spray;
It is havoc's wild carnival revel bequeathed to the night by the day.

Dawn breaks, the sky clears — ha! the shape upon Lookout's tall crest that we see,
Is the bright beaming flag of the White Star, the beautiful flag of the Free!
How it waves its rich folds in the zenith, and looks in the dawn's open eye,
With its starred breast of pearl and of crimson, as if with heaven's colors to vie!
Hurrah! rolls from Moccasin Point, and Hurrah! from bold Cameron's Hill!
Hurrah! peals from glad Chattanooga! bliss seems every bosom to fill!
Thanks, thanks, O ye heroes of Lookout! O brave Union boys! during time
Shall stand this your column of glory, shall shine this your triumph sublime!
To the deep mountain den of the panther the hunter climbed, drove him to bay,
Then fought the fierce foe till he turned and fled, bleeding and gnashing away!
Fled away from the scene where so late broke his growls and he shot down his glare,
As he paced to and fro, for the hunter his wild craggy cavern to dare!

Thanks, thanks, O ye heroes of Lookout! ye girded your souls to the fight,
Drew the sword, dropped the scabbard, and went in the full conscious strength of your might!
Now climbing o'er rock and o'er tree-mound, up, up, by the hemlock ye swung!
Now plunging through thicket and swamp, on the edge of the hollow ye hung!
One hand grasped the musket, the other clutched ladder of root and of bough:
The trunk the tornado had shivered, the landmark pale glimmering now,
And now the mad torrent's white lightning; no drum tapped, no bugle was blown--
To the words that encouraged each other, and quick breaths, ye toiled up alone!
Oh! long as the mountains shall rise o'er the waters of bright Tennessee,
Shall be told the proud deeds of the White Star, the cloup-treading host of the free!
The camp-fire shall blaze to the chorus, tile picketpost peal it on high,
How was fought the fierce battle of Lookout — how won the grand fight of the sky!

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George H. Thomas (1)
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