Kearny at Seven PinesStedman's stirring poem was suggested by a newspaper account of the ringing retort made by General Kearny to a colonel. The military historian, John C. Ropes, writing of the battle at Chantilly, September 1, 1862, says: ‘the gallant Kearny also was killed, while reconnoitering in front of his troops; a loss which was very deeply felt. He was a man who was made for the profession of arms. In the field he was always ready, always skilful, always brave, always untiring, always hopeful, and always vigilant and alert.’
So that soldierly legend is still on its journey,—
That story of Kearny who knew not to yield!
'Twas the day when with Jameson, fierce Berry, and Birney,
Against twenty thousand he rallied the field.
Where the red volleys poured, where the clamor rose highest,
Where the dead lay in clumps through the dwarf oak and pine,
Where the aim from the thicket was surest and nighest,—
No charge like Phil Kearny's along the whole line.
When the battle went ill, and the bravest were solemn,
Near the dark Seven Pines, where we still held our ground,
He rode down the length of the withering column,
And his heart at our war-cry leapt up with a bound;
He snuffed, like his charger, the wind of the powder,—
His sword waved us on and we answered the sign;
Loud our cheer as we rushed, but his laugh rang the louder.
‘There's the devil's own fun, boys, along the whole line!’
How he strode his brown steed! How we saw his blade brighten
In the one hand still left,—and the reins in his teeth!
He laughed like a boy when the holidays heighten,
But a soldier's glance shot from his visor beneath.
Up came the reserves to the mellay infernal,
Asking where to go in,—through the clearing or pine?
‘O, anywhere! Forward! 'Tis all the same, Colonel:
You'll find lovely fighting along the whole line!’