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16. Co. K.

There's a cap in the closet,
     Old, tattered, and blue,
Of very slight value,
     It may be to you;
But a crown, jewel-studded,
     Could not buy it to-day,
With its letters of honor,
     Brave “Co. K.”

The head that it sheltered
     Needs shelter no more!
Dead heroes make holy
     The trifles they wore;
So, like chaplet of honor,
     Of laurel and bay,
Seems the cap of the soldier,
     Marked “Co. K.”

Bright eyes have looked calmly
     Its visor beneath,
O'er the work of the reaper,
     Grim harvester Death!
Let the muster-roll, meagre,
     So mournfully say,
How foremost in danger
     Went “Co. K.”

Whose footsteps unbroken
     Came up to the town,
Where rampart and bastion
     Looked threateningly down?
Who, closing up breaches,
     Still kept on their way,
Till guns, downward pointed,
     Faced “Co. K.”

Like cameras awful,
     Stood cannon aloof,
Till the signal was given,
     To strike off a proof
Of the soul of the soldier,
     To send up to Him,
(Pray God, that he know it,
     Though bloody and dim.)

Who faltered, or shivered?
     Who shunned battle-stroke?
Whose fire was uncertain?
     Whose battle-line broke?
Go, ask it of History,
     Years from to-day,
And the record shall tell you,
     Not “Co. K.”

Though my darling is sleeping
     To-day with the dead,
And daisies and clover
     Bloom over his head,
I smile through my tears
     As I lay it away--
That battle worn cap,
     Lettered “Co. K.”

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