2. response of the colored soldiers.
How clear rings the bugle, how bold beats the drum!
Our “Ready!” rings clear; our hearts bolder beat;
The strongest our right arms, the swiftest our feet;
No danger can daunt us; no malice o'erthrow;
For country, for honor, rejoicing we go.
How watchful, how eager we waited for this,
In terror lest all were betrayed with a kiss!
Yet, weary in cabin or toiling in field,
The sweet hope of Freedom we never would yield;
But steadfast we trusted, through sorest delay,
That the beam on our night was the dawning of day.
'Tis dawning! 'tis morning! the hills are aglow!
God's angels roll backward the clouds of our woe!--
One grasp of the rifle, one glimpse of the fray,
And chattel and bondman have vanished for aye!
Stern men they will find us who venture to feel
The shock of our cannon, the thrust of our steel.
The bright Flag above us, exultant we hail;
Beneath it what rapture the ramparts to scale!
Or, true to our leader, o'er mountain, through hollow,
Its stars never setting, with fleet foot to follow,
Till, shrill for the battle, the bugle-notes blow,
And proudly we plant it in face of the foe.
And then, when the conflict is done, in the gleam
Of the camp-fire at midnight, how gayly we dream;
The slave is the citizen — coveted name
That lifts him from loathing, that shields him from shame;
His cottage unravished; and, blithesome as he,
His wife by the hearthstone — his babe on her knee.
The cotton grows fair by the sea, as of old;
The cane yields its sugar; the orange its gold;
Light rustle the corn-leaves; the rice-fields are green;
And, free as the white man, he smiles at the scene;
The drum beats — we start from our slumbers and pray
That the dream of the night find an answering day.
To God be the glory! They call us! we come!
How welcome the watchword, the hurry, the hum!
Our hearts are aflame as our good swords we bare--
“For Freedom! for Freedom!” soft echoes the air;
The bugle rings cheerly; our banners float high;
O comrades, all forward! we'll triumph or die!