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Border war, as seen and experienced by the inhabitants of Chambersburgh, Pa.


A wandering hunter spied the spot,
Where the Falling Spring, a limpid stream,
Which glides on its course like a fairy dream,
A moment's joy and then forgot,
Rolls laughing over its rocky bed;
A moment pure and a moment free,
A lagging moment forever sped,
Then hurried onward toward the sea.
Swept off, the victim of wild intrigue,
'Twixt the ripples and waves of the Conococheague.

On that spot now rests a quiet town,
Called after a man attracted there
By the hunter's tale, bewitching fair,
Of the water-fall which tumbles down [39]
In foamy spray o'er its rough-hewn stair;
The spot I have learned to love so well,
Where fancy can revel without restraint,
And her creations are wont to dwell,
And fill the mind with pictures quaint;
And there I muse on a thousand things,
Which come on Imagination's wings,
And the well-known legends fondly trace,
That are told of the Indian-haunted place.

'Twas on this spot stood free and wild,
The Shawanese and the Delaware savage,
Ere Indian warrior taught his child
To scalp and murder, burn and ravage.
And as I stood by the stream one day,
A thousand visions flitting o'er me,
I thought of times long passed away,
And buried chieftains rose before me;
But vain are the dreams we would fain recall,
For oblivion's mantle is over them all.

And then I thought of the old-time fort,
With its blunderbuss and its swivel gun,
Its cracking fire-arms' loud report,
And the name its bold defender won;
How the savage ventured not too near
Its stockade sides, from a wholesome fear
Of the bull-dogs laid at rest within,
But oping their mouths with a ghastly grin:
And how when the governor's mandate came,
“Forthwith to deliver up the same,”
Old Colonel Chambers bristled with pride,
And declared that “the guns should stay by his side,
For his guns had stood by him, and he
Would stand by his guns, as they should see.”
Then followed visions of trouble and strife,
Of the tomahawk and the scalping-knife,
The war-whoop wild and the scene of slaughter,
And of human blood in the limpid water.

And then from the buried past we fly
To the living present which vividly seems
The realization of mystic dreams
That are wont to fleck our dream-land's sky.
From the time on freedom's natal day,
When Craighead urged the-youth away,
And our patriot sires, a martial band,
Shoulder to shoulder and hand to hand,
Marched forth to consecrate the land
At liberty's shrine and on freedom's altar;
Up to the day when marched the son
To end the work the sire begun,
And not a man was known to falter.
From the fields where Steele and Chambers fought,
At the nation's first baptismal,
To the gory spot where Easton wrought
And died ‘midst the deep swamps dismal;
And from where our patriot fathers bled,
And their comrades moaning, “dead, dead, dead,”
Consigned them to God's own keeping,
To the far-off hillside's thorn-bush shade
Where the gallant Kerns to rest is laid,
As one who is gently sleeping.

The past, the present, the future, all
We have known in life or loved in story;
The dead the living, the great, the small,
Obscurity's son and the child of. glory
In vision arise before our eyes,
And troop through brain in wild disorder,
And we look in the stream with. strange surprise,
When we recollect we're on the “border.”


And thus again as I lay by the stream
Which murmuring rolls its waters along,
And drips o'er the Falls in rippling song,
My fancies were shaped and this my dream,
Minerva-like, sprang out of my brain.
And bore away the triumphal car
Of terrible, glorious “border war;”
While rose to my ears a swelling strain,
Which seemed like the voices of heroes slain,
And this was the burden of what they were singing,
Its cadence wild with the waters ringing.

Away to the border, away,
Where your brethren are calling.
Away and take part in the fray,
Where your children are falling.
Fall in, men, fall in, and forward in order,
Do you not hear the cry coming up from the border?

Away to the border, away,
Where stout hearts are contending.
Away, and take part in the fray,
Your own hearth-stones defending.
Fall in, men, fall in, and forward in order,
The foe's at your doors almost, his foot on the border.

Away, to the border away,
Where brave men are dying.
Away, and take part in the fray,
Where your kinsmen are lying.
Fall in, men, fall in, and forward in order,
The blood of the slain is calling, “Come to the border.”


Then quickly before my astonished eyes--
For dreams are like clouds in summer skies--
Passed visions of men in warrior's guise,
Of men who were going to battle:
And mixed and mingled with my dream,
Was sabre-thrust and bayonet-gleam,
And the fierce artillery's rattle;
There was the Home Guard's steady line,
The “State Militia's” martial front,
The “Anderson Troop,” in clothes so fine,
And men who had borne the battle's brunt.

The Home Guards marched like men who knew
Their dinners were safely cooking behind them,
And like men who felt quite conscious, too,
Of where the dinner hour would find them;
And I marched along with my gun by my side,
And I praised my captain so kind and clever,
Who looked at “the boys” with a soldier's pride,
And called time, Right, Right, whenever
He meant the left foot
On the earth should be put;
But hurrah for our captain forever.

I can never forget, nor could I desire
That a scene like that which is certainly worth
A life-long pilgrimage here on this earth
From my memory should ever expire.
When our sergeant led out our squad in the night,
Our homes to defend, for our hearth-stones to fight,
And instructed us thus: “If the foe comes don't fire,
For you see if you should, and a rebel ‘bites dirt,’
It would end our organizations;
For you know that in case there were ‘ somebody hurt,’
'Twould conflict with the regulations.”
Then behind a stone fence we were placed where we
Till we heard the approaching relief, [slept [40]
When we marched back to camp, and like soldiers we stept,
Only stopping to drink to our chief,
The provost, who'd shut up the bars, though by stealth
We still had enough to drink to his health.

The provost (I dreamed) I could never forget,
And his aids I would always remember,
How from morning till night they were sorely beset
In that terrible month of September;
When the foe in Middletown Valley was seen,
As the sun went down in the west,
And at dark had advanced already between
Greencastle and Marion at least.

But the provost (I dreamed) was a man who would have
His will and his way in his station,
And to show that the town he would certainly save,
He issued a strict proclamation:
“No citizen armed for the common defence,”
His bitters could get of a morning;
But the citizen-soldiers scorned abstinence,
As their mode of attack was by horning.
“In case the foe approaches the town,”
The command was, “Destroy all the brandy,”
But it did not say how, so my friend Mr. Brown,
Thought to drink it were far the most handy;
“And guards will be placed,” it was thus ran the text,
“At every approach to the Borough.”
So away trooped a crowd, exceeding perplexed
Lest they should bear arms on the morrow.

I can never forget what the Guards have achieved,
And how closely they looked at the “passes”
Of honest old farmers who “spies” were believed,
While they kissed and passed out all the lasses.

Then the “Anderson Troop” came riding along,
On horses impressed from the farmers;
Their clothes were new and their sabres were strong,
So they thought themselves “perfect charmers.”
And I looked at their steeds when I saw the mark,
Uncle Sam puts on all of his forces;
And I “laughed in my sleeve,” as cried out some gay lark,
“They've> been branding borrowed horses.”

These “Anderson fellows” had drilled for a while,
And moreover were splendid blowers;
So with sabres like scythes they came in style,
To show rebels some excellent mowers.
And I saw in my dream, I can't vouch for its truth,
That with dauntless and terrible blows
They mowed forty thousand rebs down, forsooth,
When at least thirty miles from their foes.

Thus ended this part of my dream, when behold,
As the danger was past and as bloodshed was over,
The “State Militia,” in numbers untold,
The “War on the Border” began to discover.
So away they marched with but little persuasion,
To protect “the line” from threatened invasion.

Unluckily for the “Militia,” their fate,
'Twas to be right in time to be too late;
Unless they meant not to fight where my rhyme
Will bring them just in the nick of time.

Thus peace again reigned, not so much, I suppose,
That the rebels were fearful we'd beat 'em,
As from a deep-seated conviction that rose
In their minds <*> the banks of Antietam.


The quiet town in its still repose,
Not a whisper heard from the whispering trees,
Not a rumor borne on the passing breeze,
But little recked of the coming foes.

The clouds were lowering, and pattering rain
Began to plash on the window-pane,
And darkness to veil all scenes from the light,
O'ercasting the earth with the mantle of night.

An anxious horseman with panting steed,
Rode into the town at his utmost speed,
With the word that “the rebels were coming!”
Bells rang and drums beat in that hour of need,
But all smiled at the ringing and drumming.
'Twere absurd, men argued, that here, so far
From the army that lay on the river away,
The rebels should come in a single day,
With all the paraphernalia of war.
Yet while they argued, the guns of the foe
Oped their mouths with a grin on the town below.

“They're here, they're here!” was borne on the air;
Through street and alley, “The rebels are here;
Don't you see them down in the Diamond there?
I heard their trumpet-tones calling clear.”

And I walked the streets, and I felt the pain
Of “surrender” thrill me through every vein
When I heard a heroic woman declare,
“The dirty rebels, they won't fight fair,
But come when they know we can't beat them,
Instead of giving us time to prepare,
As we do with them ere we meet them.”

Then into the town incessant poured
The hateful stream of the rebel horde;
“They had now just come,” they deigned to say,
“A hasty visit the place to pay ;”
And kindly promised for hurry this once,
To come again and stay for months.
We told them no doubt 'twas well designed,
But still we were sure they were quite too kind;
And assured them one thing was very clear,
We were not at all fond of “butternuts” here.

And General Stuart, the rebel chief,
Whom the farmers call “the great horse-thief,”
Who captured “the city without delay,”
(Or “quiet village,” as Harpers say,)
Inquired next morning with pride: “If his men
Were bad as was represented.”
“But the devil ne'er,” he was answered then,
“Was black as he was painted.”

But up and away with the early morn
Were these defiant rebels borne,
As fast as our horses could carry them.
As the flame and smoke to heaven arose,
We declared our purpose to follow our foes,
To strike them hard, and as to their blows,
We swore long and loud we would parry them.

So we shouldered our guns and went out to see
Where the infernal rebels might be,
But the devil himself couldn't find them.
For “over the river and far away,”
They had gone, as they hadn't “the time to stay,”
Leaving “flaming regrets” behind them.

[41] V.1

The autumn bleak and the winter cold
Passed slowly by, while afar off rolled
War's tide and train of desolation.
On the Rappahannock's blood-stained shore,
Where the Yazoo's darksome waters pour,
Or Stone River's waves are mingled with gore,
Stood the bulwarks of the nation.

Our fathers, brothers, sons were there,
While a sister's sigh or a mother's prayer,
Went up to heaven, “O Father, spare!”
The rifle-flash and bayonet-thrust,
The ranks of men, the columns of dust,
The musketry crash, the cannon's roar,
And all the ominous sound of war,
Was the only answer the lightning brought,
From where contending thousands fought.

The only answer — Ah! no, the rod
Upraised to punish a nation for sin,
Is felt in the cry, “My son, O God!”
At the one little name in the bulletin;
And this is answer enough for her,
Whose hopes and all that she loved on earth,
Are borne to a soldier's sepulchre,
And buried afar from the place of his birth;
Or brought in sorrow and laid to sleep,
Where its vigils affection may silently keep.

The dreadful sounds of war, war, war,
Still smote on the ear, yet while we bore
Our loved ones home and mournfully laid
Their bodies at rest in the earth at our feet,
Mourned over their graves and solemnly played
Funereal dirges for heroes meet;
Men black as Erebus sprung forth,
And I saw them spring at their country's call,
Raised up the banner of the North,
And placed it high on Wagner's wall.

From the dens where burrow a subject race,
Methought I saw them face to face
With the monster Death on Wagner's towers,
Exclaiming: “the Fort it must be ours.”
And I turned and pointed where heroes lay,
And pronounced a benediction of sorrow:
“Sleep sweetly, brave men, for ye this day
Have gained for your children a glorious to-morrow.”


But again the rumor is borne on the breeze,
(We often before had rumors like these,)
That Lee is moving, intent on invasion.
But we heeded it not until it was clear
That Jenkins had come unpleasantly near,
And Lee himself would surely be here
Before his head had many more days on.
Then away the “prominent citizens” hurried,
Excited, frightened, flustered, flurried,
In wagons, carriages, sulkies, carts,
On horseback, “on foot,” by all manner of arts
And devices;
And all kinds of people — Smith, Jones,
Roberts, Robinson, Brown, and Bones,
And the Rices.
While away in advance of the headlong race,
Was a carriage that looked like R----n's,
Which seemed “like he gwine to leab de place,”
Through fear of the mighty Jenkins.

‘Mid shriek, and yell, and cry, and shout,
And peals of wicked laughter,
On, hurried on, the rabble rout,
With Milroy's wagons after.
Toss and tumble,
Roll and rumble,
And dust to make us blind, most;
Thus Milroy's trains
Came over plains,
And rills and ridges,
Brooks and bridges,
Let worst be worst,
The best man first,
And devil take the hindmost.
And sure enough, when all had gone,
And night put her sable garments on,
Came Jenkins, the guerrilla chief,
And arrant traitor, and braggart, and thief,
To pay us that long-threatened visit.
His rebs were dirty as dirt could make 'em,
And Jenkins himself may have been a sachem,
A man or gorilla, a monkey or fairy,
Or p'rhaps the famous “What is it?”
Which usually goes with “travelling shows.”
But whatever he was, no one I suppose,
Will deny he was wretchedly dirty and hairy.

Now Jenkins put up at the best hotel,
And as every thing looked uncommonly well,
He grew quite communicative;
No foe on his front, no foe on his rear,
Though he found on his flanks two glasses of beer,
He soon threw them off like a “native.”

'Tis wondrous to tell how he soon sought his way,
From the house with the sign of the Eagle,
A bird which he found he could ne'er lead astray,
However he tried to inveigle,
To that spot on the Spring whose waters are clear,
Transparent and lucid as lager or beer,
Where our good friends the Dutch delight overmuch,
To hear their mugs jingle and “smile” at the touch,
While they fight o'er their battles “mit Sigel.”

“Dear Harmon,” says Jenkins, “I'm glad to be here,
And to know you's a great delight, sir,
I confess I'm remarkably fond of your beer,
And relish your ‘ kase ’ and your ‘ Sweitzer.’
Your people shall all be treated as well
As I this day have been ‘ treated ;’
I'll see they are paid for all that they sell,
And will suffer no one to be cheated;
But then they must all be content to receive
Such money as we are able to give.”

Impressed, no doubt, with this honest feeling,
(For Jenkins was morally hostile to stealing,)
He ordered all business men open their doors,
And he would send officers round to their stores,
And these, he assured them, “would carefully make
A correct catalogue of their stock;
Such things as they wanted were all they would take,
And the balance erase from the book; [42]
Except whatever ‘ the men ’ might find
To tickle the fancy or please the mind.”
Thus pleasantly chatting, when all was “took down,”
He looked at the bills and bought out the town.

Still Jenkins had terrible griefs to bear,
And as Jenkinses never were known to swear,
He affirmed: “He'd be d — d if he'd stand 'em.”
And so he launched forth in a speech at the rate
Of Phoebus's horses when Phaeton sate
On the box and drove ‘em tandem.

“In a peaceable way he had entered the town,
Yet we had a hostile spirit shown ;”
If he had said “horse steal” to me it appears,
The kettle had had the pot by the ears--
“Had stolen his horses and tried to shoot down
His men in a charge inoffensively made,
Which greatly displeased his entire brigade;
Who swore that unless we paid all their losses,
Or begging their pardon returned them their ‘ losses,’
The d — d little town should in ashes be laid.
He felt for his men, he was bound to confess it,
And whatever their wrong was compelled to redress it,
And to settle the matter desired to call
Our worthy Town Fathers together.”
Such was the substance of what he “let fall” --
From the “change in the wind” we augured a “squall,”
And not wishing a “change in the weather,”
Concluded to send our Burgess right down,
With the onerous duty of “saving the town,”
Who managed the business lie found to be done,
In a mode that “did credit” in more ways than one,
To our ancient and goodly Borough;
To the knowledge of these if you wish to attain,
Go ask certain lenders of scrip to explain--
Now, gentlemen, please don't become so profane,
You all shall be paid — to-morrow.

Now Jenkins determined to leave us awhile,
But first thought it best to disarm us.
Believing perhaps our powder might spoil,
Or that pistols and guns might harm us.
And hence he issued an order requiring
All persons within the precincts of the town,
All rights being forfeited by them by firing
(And oh! how we trembled at Jenkins's frown)
Upon the benignant confederate forces,
And wickedly stealing the best of their horses,
At once to deliver all arms and munitions
To officers named to make proper disposal,
On pain of reprisal for any omissions,
And punishment dire for every refusal.

But whether compliance was honestly made,
Or a feigned respect to the order was paid,
We all were swift his commands to obey,
And have our names on his books “put down,”
'Twas really a laughable farce to play,
Though done, of course, “to preserve the town.”

Such a motley collection of arms I swear,
Has never before been exhibited here.
There were swords without hilts and guns without locks,
Stocks without barrels and barrels without stocks;
Pistols as big as your finger, and e'en
A two-ounce vial of powder was seen.
And I stood and looked on as my friends passed by,
And to whate'er they carried I gave “half an eye.”
“Hollo, dear N----, what is that you have there t”
“Oh! nothing — or only a trifle.”
I caught a slight glimpse, and it was, I declare,
A telescopic rifle.
And then friend F----came along and got booked
For a load that would break down a mason;
Five muskets--two sabres — astonished I looked
For howitzer, cannon, and caisson.


But Jenkins now returns again,
And Lee and his army following them,
Grief, terror, and desolation
Throughout our lovely valley fling,
And nearer, nearer, nearer bring
Destruction to the nation.

The first to come over the roads was Rhodes,
And then brigade, division, and corps
Into the town with clatter and roar,
In one unceasing current pour;
Divisions almost half a score:
Johnson's, Anderson's, Picket's, and Hood's,
On, and on, and onward still,
McLaw's, and Pender's, and Heath's, until
The corps of Ewell and A. P. Hill,
And “Bull-dog” Longstreet, all were found
Encamped throughout the neighborhood round,

These rebels were flushed with insolent pride,
Believing an irresistible tide
Like the waves of a deep-flowing river,
Was sweeping the nation far and wide,
Engulfing us ‘neath it forever.
“We're back in the Union again,” they cried
And endless their boasting and vaunting;
“You'll in it remain,” was all we replied,
Though endless their gibes and their taunting

While Hood's division was passing through,
A lady sporting the “Red, White, and Blue,”
From a bosom whence traitor ne'er won it,
Was hailed by an insolent reb, who cried,
As he our own loved emblem spied,
“A breastwork, lady, please bear in mind,
Hood's boys delight to storm, when they find
The Yankee colors on it.”

These rebs were an ignorant set, to be sure,
Nor was their language always pure;
For reading, and writing, and such little arts,
Are not esteemed “essential parts,”
Among our Southern cousins;
And one of them asked, in a drawling tone,
A dirty, lousy son of a gun,
“What fur do yo'ns fight us'ns?”

A lady, Blackwood says and knows,
Cried out as the rebs passed by,
“To the Red Sea Pharaoh's army goes,”
But things since veered awry.
For when old Pharaoh led before,
His army to the Red Sea's shore,
Moses was passing through;
But this time “Moses” might be seen
On Pharaoh's side, sufficiently “green,”
To enter the Red Sea too.

Now Moses (I dreamed) went round to see
That all our merchandise might be
(In Blackwood find the text) [43]
Carefully packed and marked “supplies,”
While we looked on with sad surprise,
To see our goods “annexed.”

But I suddenly from my dreams awoke,
As a distant sound of thunder broke
Upon my startled ear;
And I looked around, but the foe was gone,
My dream of “Border War” was done;
While the Falling Spring went singing on,
O'er the Falls in accents clear.

1 This Part refers to the young men of Chambersburgb, Pa., who were killed in the battles of Stone River and Frede<*>ks-burgh, and to the colored men of the same place who belonged to the Massachusetts Fifty-fourth regiment, which displayed so great bravery at the attack on Fort Wagner.

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Jenkins (10)
Fitz-Hugh Lee (3)
Hood (3)
Moses (2)
Milroy (2)
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John Brown (2)
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Steele (1)
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Samuel Johnson (1)
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Heath (1)
Harpers (1)
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Ewell (1)
Easton (1)
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