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Draw your chair up — draw it closer — just another little sup!
May be you may think I'm better, but I'm pretty well used up--
Doctor, you've done all you could do, but I'm just a going up.
“Feel my pulse, sir, if you want to, but it is no use to try.”
“Never say that,” said the surgeon, as he smothered down a sigh,
“It will never do, old comrade, for a soldier to say die!”
“What you say will make no difference, Doctor, when you come to die.
“Doctor, what has been the matter?” “You were very faint they say;
You must try to get to sleep now.” “Doctor, have I been away?”
“No, my venerable comrade.” “Doctor, will you please to stay?
There is something I must tell you, and you won't have long to stay!
“I have got my marching orders, and am ready now to go;
Doctor, did you say I fainted?--but it couldn't have been so--
For as sure as I'm a sergeant and was wounded at Shiloh,
I've this very night been back there — on the old field of Shiloh!
“You may think it all delusion — all the sickness of the brain--
If you do, you are mistaken, and mistaken to my pain;
For upon my dying honor, as I hope to live again,
I have just been back to Shiloh and all over it again!
“This is all that I remember; the last time the Lighter came,
And the lights had all been lowered, and the noises much the same,
He had not been gone five minutes before something called my name--
“orderly-Sergeant-Robert-Burton!”--just that way it called my name.
“Then I thought, who could have called me so distinctly and so slow--
It can't be the Lighter, surely, he could not have spoken so,
And I tried to answer, ‘Here sir!’ but I couldn't make it go,
For I couldn't move a muscle, and I couldn't make it go!
“Then I thought, it's all a nightmare — all a humbug and a bore!
It is just another grapevine, and it won't come any more;
But it came, sir, notwithstanding, just the same words as before
“orderly-Sergeant-Robert-Burton!” more distinctly than before!
“That is all that I remember till a sudden burst of light
And I stood beside the river, where we stood that Sunday night
Waiting to be ferried over to the dark bluffs opposite,
When the river seemed perdition and all hell seemed opposite!
“And the same old palpitation came again with all its power,
And I heard a bugle sounding as from heaven or a tower;
And the same mysterious voice said: ‘it is — the Eleventh hour!
orderly-Sergeant — Robert Burton — it is the Eleventh hour!’
“Doctor Austin!--what day is this?” --“It is Wednesday night, you know;”
“Yes! To-morrow will be New-Year's, and a right good time below!
What time is it, Doctor Austin!” --“Nearly twelve:” --“Then don't you go!
Can it be that all this happened — all this — not an hour ago!
“There was where the gunboats opened on the dark, rebellious host,
And where Webster semicircled his last guns upon the coast--
There were still the two log-houses, just the same, or else their ghost--
And the same old transport came and took me over — or its ghost!
“And the whole field lay before me, all deserted far and wide--
There was where they fell on Prentiss — there McClernand met the tide ,
There was where stern Sherman rallied, and where Hurlbut's heroes died--
Lower down, where Wallace charged them, and kept charging till he died!
“There was where Lew Wallace showed them he was of the cannie kin--
There was where old Nelson thundered and where Rousseau waded in--
There McCook ‘sent them to breakfast,’ and we all began to win--
There was where the grape-shot took me just as we began to win.
“Now a shroud of snow and silence over every thing was spread;
And but for this old, blue mantle, and the old hat on my head,
I should not have even doubted, to this moment, I was dead;
For my footsteps were as silent as the snow upon the dead!
“Death and silence! Death and silence! starry silence overheard!
And behold a mighty tower, as if builded to the dead,
To the heaven of the heavens lifted up its mighty head!
Till the Stars and Stripes of heaven all seemed waving from its head!
“Round and mighty-based, it towered — up into the infinite!
And I knew no mortal mason could have built a shaft so bright;
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