Thomas at Chickamauga
It was that fierce contested field when Chickamauga lay
Beneath the wild tornado that swept her pride away;
Her dimpling dales and circling hills dyed crimson with the flood
That had its sources in the springs that throb with human blood.
‘Go say to General Hooker to reinforce his right!’
Said Thomas to his aide-de-camp, when wildly went the fight;
In front the battle thundered, it roared both right and left,
But like a rock ‘Pap’ Thomas stood upon the crested cleft.
‘Where will I find you, General, when I return?’ The aide
Leaned on his bridle-rein to wait the answer Thomas made;
The old chief like a lion turned, his pale lips set and sere,
And shook his mane, and stamped his foot, and fiercely answered, ‘Here!’
The floodtide of fraternal strife rolled upward to his feet,
And like the breakers on the shore the thunderous clamors beat;
The sad earth rocked and reeled with woe, the woodland shrieked in pain,
And hill and vale were groaning with the burden of the slain.
Who does not mind that sturdy form, that steady heart and hand,
That calm repose and gallant mien, that courage high and grand?—
O God, who givest nations men to meet their lofty needs,
Vouchsafe another Thomas when our country prostrate bleeds!
They fought with all the fortitude of earnest men and true—
The men who wore the rebel gray, the men who wore the blue;
And those, they fought most valiantly for petty state and clan,
And these, for truer Union and the brotherhood of man.