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[520] “We'll go forward, but you must go back!”
And they moved not an inch in the perilous track.
“Go to the rear, and we'll send them to h--! ”
Then the sound of the battle was lost in their yell.

Turning his bridle, Robert Lee
Rode to the rear. Like the waves of the sea,
Bursting the dykes in their overflow,
Madly his veterans dashed on the foe.

And backward in terror that foe was driven,
Their banners rent and their columns riven,
Wherever the tide of battle rolled,
Over the Wilderness, wood and wold.

Sunset out of a crimson sky
Streamed o'er a field of a ruddier dye,
And the brook ran on with a purple stain,
From the blood of ten thousand foemen slain.

Seasons have passed since that day and year;
Again o'er its pebbles the brook runs clear,
And the field in a richer green is drest,
Where the dead of the terrible conflict rest.

Hushed is the roll of the Rebel drum,
The sabres are sheathed and the cannon are dumb;
And Fate, with pitiless hand has furled
The flag that once challenged the gaze of the world.

But the fame of the Wilderness fight abides,
And down into history grandly rides,
Calm and unmoved as in battle he sat,
The grey-bearded man in the black slouch hat.

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