previous next

[281] Dirge for a soldier. Thomas Dunn English's The charge by the Ford and Melville's Malvern Hill deal with the later events of McClellan's first campaign. Lincoln's call for new troops gave rise to the sentimental but immensely effective Three hundred thousand more by James Sloan Gibbons and to Bret Harte's The Reveille (sometimes called The Drum), which is said to have played a large part in holding California loyal. The advance of Lee to Antietam, his repulse there, and his retreat found a record in Whittier's Barbara Frietchie, Melville's The Victor of Antietam, Boker's The crossing at Fredericksburg, John Boyle O'Reilly's At Fredericksburg, and Aldrich's exquisite sonnets Fredericksburg and By the Potomac.

Meanwhile the war in the West was not without its poet— annalists, of whom the most notable perhaps was Forceythe Willson (1837-67), a native of New York who lived in Indiana from 1852 to 1864 and wrote Union editorials for the Louisville Journal. During the first year of the war he began his sombre, disheartened In state, a poem which spoke of the Union as dead and lying on its bier:

The Sisterhood that was so sweet,
The Starry System sphered complete,
Which the mazed Orient used to greet,
The Four and Thirty fallen Stars glimmer and glitter at her feet.

The next year he wrote Boy Brittan to commemorate a seventeen-year-old lieutenant killed in the attack on Fort Henry, and the year after published his masterpiece, The old Sergeant, which Holmes thought ‘the finest thing since the war began,’— the death-scene of a nameless soldier wounded at Shiloh. Richer in melody than Brownell, Willson was like him in directness and realism; his output, however, was very slight. The struggle for the possession of Missouri was recorded in Stoddard's The little Drummer, Henry Peterson's The death of Lyon, and Boker's Zagonyi. During the Confederate attempt to recapture Corinth in October, 1862, the Eighth Wisconsin imaginatively carried, instead of a flag, a live eagle which circled over the battlefield and which gave Brownell his occasion for The Eagle of Corinth.

This same year on the sea the duel between the Merrimac and the Cumberland stirred the poets as did almost no other

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1867 AD (1)
1864 AD (1)
October, 1862 AD (1)
1852 AD (1)
1837 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: