55. the color Sergeant.
No soldier was braver than he,
As, aloft in the roar and the rattle,
He carried the flag of the free:
I knew, ah! I knew he'd ne'er falter,
I could trust him, the dutiful boy.
My Robert was wilful — but Walter,
Dear Walter, was ever a joy.
And if he was true to his mother,
Do you think he his trust would betray,
And give up his place to another,
Or turn from the danger away?
He knew while afar he was straying,
He felt in the thick of the fight,
That at home his poor mother was praying
For him and the cause of the right!
Tell me, comrade, who saw him when dying,
What he said, what he did, if you can;
On the field in his agony lying,
Did he suffer and die like a man?
Do you think he once wished he had never
Borne arms for the right and the true?
Nay, he shouted Our Country forever!
When he died he was praying for you!
O my darling! my youngest and fairest,
Whom I gathered so close to my breast;
I called thee my dearest and rarest,
And thou wert my purest and best!
I tell you, O friend! as a mother,
Whose full heart is breaking to-day,
The Infinite Father — none other--
Can know what he's taken away!
I thank you once more for your kindness,
For this lock of his auburn hair:
Perhaps 'tis the one I in blindness
Last touched, as we parted just there!
When he asked, through his tears, should he linger
From duty, I answered him, Nay:
And he smiled, as he placed on my finger
The ring I am wearing to-day.
I watched him leap into that meadow;
There, a child, he with others had played;
I saw him pass slowly the shadow
Of the trees where his father was laid;
And there, where the road meets two others,
Without turning he went on his way:
Once his face toward the foe — not his mother's
Should unman him, or cause him delay.
It may be that some day your duty
Will carry you that way again;
When the field shall be riper in beauty,
Enriched by the blood of the slain;
Would you see if the grasses are growing
On the grave of my boy? Will you see
If a flower, e'en the smallest, is blowing,
And pluck it, and send it to me?
Don't think, in my grief, I'm complaining;
I gave him, God took him, 'tis right;
And the cry of his mother remaining
Shall strengthen his comrades in fight.
Not for vengeance, to-day, in my weeping,
Goes my prayer to the Infinite Throne.
God pity the foe when he's reaping
The harvest of what he has sown!
Tell his comrades these words of his mother:
All over the wide land to-day,
The Rachels who weep with each other,
Together in agony pray.
They know in their great tribulation,
By the blood of their children outpoured,
We shall smite down the foes of the Nation,
In the terrible day of the Lord.