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Charge of the Kentuckians at stone river.

Mrs. Sallie Neill Roach
Written for the Southern Historical Society Papers by Mrs. Sallie Neill Roach.

[We are under many obligations to the accomplished author of “Theon” for the following beautiful poem:]

“Kentuckians! Charge the batteries!” Thus the brief command is heard,
And glance meets glance, and lips are dumb, is breathed no questioning word.

Proudly floats their banner there, and bright the bayonets gleam,
And in the waiting hush one hears the ripple of a stream.

Booms across the wooded slope the angry signal gun!
Quickly bugles sound the charge and tell the work begun.

Forward full five thousand men, while whistling bullets fall,
And all the air around is thick with raining shell and ball.

Onward, o'er the nearer ridges! Onward, through the stream!
Onward, where the cannon flashes from the hill-top gleam!

Thicker, faster, round them, o'er them falls the iron rain;
Broken lines are closed together, ranks made whole again.

Nine times see their standard falling--nine times see it wave,
As stalwart arm has raised it where its bearer finds his grave.

One brigade against an army! Yet they climb the hill;
Unsupported hold their places; meet with dauntless will

Death's flying missiles. Hour like ages! Comes at last recall.
Backward less than half their number, fight through shell and ball.

Lies their leader near the ramparts; lie their comrades round;
Face to foeman, slow the remnant leave the bloody ground.

Heroes they! Their banner wreathed with never-dying glory,
Their deed throughout the wondering world proclaimed in song and story.

For history's page no nobler names shall bear recorded ever,
Than those of Hanson and his men who fell beside Stone river.

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