There's one hope, still—
Those batteries parked on the hill!
‘Battery, wheel!’ ('mid the roar)
‘Pass pieces; fix prolonge to fire
Retiring. Trot!’ In the panic dire
A bugle rings ‘Trot!’—and no more.
The horses plunged,
The cannon lurched and lunged,
To join the hopeless rout.
But suddenly rode a form
Calmly in front of the human storm,
With a stern, commanding shout:
‘Align those guns!’
(We knew it was Pleasonton's.)
The cannoneers bent to obey,
And worked with a will at his word:
And the black guns moved as if they had heard.
But, ah, the dread delay!
‘To wait is crime;
O God, for ten minutes time!’
The General looked around.
There Keenan sat, like a stone,
With his three hundred horse alone,
Less shaken than the ground.
‘Major, your men?’
‘Are soldiers, General.’ ‘Then
Charge, Major! Do your best;
Hold the enemy back at all cost,
Till my guns are placed;—else the army is lost.
You die to save the rest!’
By the shrouded gleam of the western skies,
Brave Keenan looked into Pleasonton's eyes
For an instant-clear, and cool, and still;
Then, with a smile, he said: ‘I will.’
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