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[190]

United

All day it shook the land—grim battle's thunder tread;
And fields at morning green, at eve are trampled red.
But now, on the stricken scene, twilight and quiet fall;
Only, from hill to hill, night's tremulous voices call;
And comes from far along, where campfires warning burn,
The dread, hushed sound which tells of morning's sad return.

Timidly nature awakens; the stars come out overhead,
And a flood of moonlight breaks like a voiceless prayer for the dead.
And steals the blessed wind, like Odin's fairest daughter,
In viewless ministry, over the fields of slaughter;
Soothing the smitten life, easing the pang of death,
And bearing away on high the passing warrior's breath.

Two youthful forms are lying apart from the thickest fray,
The one in Northern blue, the other in Southern gray.
Around his lifeless foeman the arms of each are pressed,
And the head of one is pillowed upon the other's breast.
As if two loving brothers, wearied with work and play,
Had fallen asleep together, at close of the summer day.
Foeman were they, and brothers?—Again the battle's din,
With its sullen, cruel answer, from far away breaks in.


Music in camp

The setting of this poem is immediately after the battle of Chancellorsville, May 1-4, 1863. for some three weeks the armies were encamped on opposite banks of the Rappahannock, before Lee's invasion of the North ending in the battle of Gettysburg. Historically, the intercourse between the soldiers had been much freer during the preceding winter and spring, between the battle of Fredericksburg and the opening of the Chancellorsville campaign.


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