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45. the dog of the regiment.

“If I were a poet, like you, my friend,”
     Said a bronzed old sergeant, speaking to me,
”I would make a rhyme of this mastiff here;
     For a right good Union dog is he.
Although he was born on “secesh” soil,
     And his master fought in the rebel ranks.
If you'll do it, I'll tell you his history,
     And give you in pay, why — a soldier's thanks.

”Well, the way we came across him was this:
     We were on the march, and 'twas getting late
When we reached a farm-house, deserted by all
     Save this mastiff here, who stood at the gate.
Thin and gaunt as a wolf was he,
     And a piteous whine he gave 'twixt the bars;
But, bless you! if he didn't jump for joy
     When he saw our flag with the Stripes and Stars.

”Next day, when we started again on the march,
     With us went Jack, without word or call;
Stopping for rest at the order to “halt,”
     And taking his rations along with us all,
Never straggling, but keeping his place in line,
     Far to the right, and close beside me;
And I don't care where the other is found,
     There never was better drilled dog than he.

”He always went with us into the fight,
     And the thicker the bullets fell around,
And the louder the rattling musketry rolled,
     Louder and fiercer his bark would sound;
And once when wounded, and left for dead,
     After a bloody and desperate fight,
Poor Jack, as faithful as friend can be,
     Lay by my side on the field all night.

”And so when our regiment home returned,
     We brought him along with us, as you see;
And Jack and I being much attached,
     The boys seemed to think he belonged to me.
And here he has lived with me ever since;
     Right pleased with his quarters, too, he seems.
There are no more battles for brave old Jack,
     And no more marches except in dreams.

”But the best of all times for the old dog is
     When the thunder mutters along the sky,
Then he wakes the echoes around with his bark,
     Thinking the enemy surely is nigh.
Now I've told you his history, write him a rhyme--
     Some day poor Jack in his grave must rest--
And of all the rhymes of this cruel war
     Which your brain has made, let his be the best.“

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