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39. the drummer-boy of Tennessee.

When called the fife and drum at morn
     The soldier from his rest,
And those to higher honors born
     With softer couches blest,
There came, a captain brave to seek,
     Deep in her mourning clad,
By loss made sad, and journeying weak,
     A mother and a lad--
And they had come from Tennessee,
     Waiting the beat of reveille.

But, penniless and widowed,
     Her story soon she told:
The hand of traitor had not spared
     Her husband's life nor gold;
And now she brought her only son
     To fill the drummer's place;
Thus young his daily bread to earn,
     His country's foes to face:
For he had learned, in Tennessee,
     To beat the call of reveille.

The boy upturned his eager gaze,
     And, with a beating heart,
He read upon the captain's face
     Both kindliness and doubt;
For he had marked his tender years,
     His little fragile form--
“Don't be afraid,” he boldly cried,
     “For, captain, I can drum!
And I have come from Tennessee,
     To sound for you the reveille.”

“Well, call the fifer!--bring the drum,
     To test this noble youth!”
And well his part he did perform,
     A “drummer-boy,” in truth!
“Yes, madam, I will take your boy,”
     The captain kindly said.
“Oh! bring him back,” her quick reply,
     “Unnumbered with the dead!
And Eddie Lee, of Tennessee,
     Shall play for you the reveille.”

'Twas many a weary march was made,
     To sound of drum and fife,
And well the “drummer-boy” essayed
     To play the march of life;
Each soldier loved and sought to share
     Their part of good with him;
The fifer on his back did bear
     Across each swollen stream [36]
This “drummer-boy” from Tennessee,
     Who beat with him the reveille.

But came the battle-shock, and doom
     Of one great “Lyon” heart,
The victor's shout — the victim's groan,
     Fulfilled their fearful part!
And, on that blood-stained field of woe
     The darkness threw its pall!
The morning dawned on flying foe;
     When, list!--the “morning call!”
Our “drummer-boy” from Tennessee,
     Beating for help the reveille!

Upon the valley sod he lay
     Beside a lifeless foe,
Whose dying hand had sought to stay
     The life-blood's ebbing flow:
The quivering drum yet echoing
     The beating of his heart--
The encamping angel beckoning
     From drum and fife to part!
And Eddie Lee, of Tennessee,
     Awaits the final reveille!

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