1. the Muster of the North: a Ballad of ‘61.
by John savage.I.
“Oh, mother, have you heard the news?”
“Oh, father, is it true?”
“Oh, brother, were I but a man” --
“Oh, husband, they shall rue!”
Thus, passionately, asked the boy,
And thus the sister spoke,
And thus the dear wife to her mate,
The words they could not choke.
“The news! what news?” “Oh, bitter news — they've fired upon the Flag--
The Flag no foreign foe could blast, the traitors down would drag.”
“The truest flag of liberty
The world has ever seen--
The Stars that shone o'er Washington,
And guided gallant Greene!
The white and crimson Stripes which bode
Success in peace and war,
Are draggled, shorn, disgraced, and torn--
Insulted Star by Star.
That Flag, whose symbol'd virtues are the pining nation's codes,
The Flag of Jones at Whitehaven, of Reid at Fayal Roads.
“Eh, neighbor, canst believe this thing?”
The neighbor's eyes grew wild;
Then o'er them crept a haze of shame,
As o'er a sad, proud child;
His face grew pale, he bit his lip,
Until the hardy skin,
By passion tightened, could not hold
The boiling blood within;
He quivered for a moment, the indignant stupor broke,
And the duties of the soldier in the citizen awoke.
On every side the crimson tide
Ebbs quickly to and fro;
On maiden cheeks the horror speaks
With fitful gloom and glow;
In matrons' eyes their feelings rise,
As when a danger, near,
Awakes the soul to full control
Of all that causes fear;
The subtle sense, the faith intense, of woman's heart and brain,
Give her a prophet's power to see, to suffer and maintain.
Through city streets the fever beats--
O'er highways, byways, borne;
The boys grow men with madness,
And the old grow young in scorn;
The forest boughs record the vows
Of men heart-sore, though strong;
Tha electric wire, with words of fire,
The passion speeds along,
Of traitor hordes and traitor swords from Natchez to Manassas,
And like a mighty harp flings out the war-chant to the masses.
And into caverned mining pits,
The insult bellows down;
And up through the hoary gorges,
Till it shouts on the mountain's crown;
Then foaming o'er the table-lands,
Like a widening rapid, heads;
And rolling along the prairies,
Like a quenchless fire it spreads;
From workman's shop to mountain top there's mingled wrath and wonder;
It appals them like the lightning, and awakes them like the thunder.
The woodman flings his axe aside;
The farmer leaves his plough;
The merchant slams his ledger lids
For other business now;
The artisan puts up his tools,
The artist drops his brush,
And joining hands for Liberty,
To Freedom's standard rush;
The doctor folds his suit of black, to fight as best he may,
And e'en the flirting exquisite is “eager for the fray.”
The students leave their college rooms
Full deep in Greece and Rome,
To make a rival glory
For a better cause near home;
The lawyer quits his suit and writs,
The laborer his hire,
And in the thrilling rivalry
The rich and poor aspire!
And party lines are lost amid the patriot commotion,
As wanton streams grow strong and pure within the heart of ocean.
The city marts are echoless;
The city parks are thronged;
In country stores there roars and pours
The means to right the wronged;
The town-halls ring with mustering,--
From holy pulpits, too,
Good priests and preachers volunteer
To show what men should do--
To show that they who preach the truth and God above revere,
Can die to save for man the blessings God has sent down here.
And gentle fingers everywhere
The busy needles ply,
To deck the manly sinews
That go out to do or die;
And maids and mothers, sisters dear,
And dearer wives, outvie
Each other in the duty sad,
That makes all say “Good-by” --
The while in every throbbing heart that's pressed in farewell kiss,
Arises pangs of hate on those who brought them all to this.
The mustering men are entering
For near and distant tramps;
The clustering crowds are centering
In barrack-rooms and camps;
There is riveting and pivoting,
And furbishing of arms;
And the willing marching, drilling,
With their quick exciting charms,
Half dispel the subtle sorrow that the women needs must feel,
When e'en for Right their dear ones fight the Wrong with steel to steel.
With hammerings and clamorings
The armories are loud;
Toilsome clangor, joy and anger,
Like a cloud enwrap each crowd;
Belting, buckling, cursing, chuckling,
Sorting out their “traps” in throngs;
Some are packing, some knapsacking,
Singing snatches of old songs;
Fifers finger, lovers linger to adjust a badge or feather,
And groups of drummers vainly strive to reveille together.
And into many a haversack
The prayer-book's mutely borne--
Its well-thumbed leaves in faithfulness
By wives and mothers worn;
And round full many a pillared neck,
O'er many a stalwart breast,
The sweetheart wife's — the maiden love's
Dear effigy's caressed.
God knows by what far camp-fire may these tokens courage give,
To fearless die for Truth and Home, if not for them to live.
And men who've passed their threescore years,
Press on the ranks in flocks;
Their eyes, like fire from Hecla's brow,
Burn through their snowy locks;
And maim'd ones, with stout hearts, persist
To mount the belt and gun,
And crave with tears — while forced away--
To march to Washington.
“Why should we not? We love that Flag! Great
God!” --they choking cry--
“We're strong enough! We're not too old for our country's cause to die!”
And in the mighty mustering,
No petty hate intrudes,
No rival discords mar the strength
Of rising multitudes;
The jealousies of faith and clime
Which fester in success,
Give place to sturdy friendships
Based on mutual distress;
For every thinking citizen who draws the sword, knows well
The battle's for Humanity — for Freedom's citadel!
Oh, Heaven! how the trodden hearts
In Europe's tyrant world
Leapt up with new-born energy
When that Flag was unfurled!
How those who suffered, fought, and died,
In fields, or dungeon-chained,
Prayed that the Flag of Washington
Might float while earth remained!
And weary eyes in foreign skies still flash with fire anew,
When some good blast by peak and mast unfolds that
Flag to view.
And they who, guided by its stars,
Sought here the hopes they gave,
Are all aglow with pilgrim fire
Their happy shrines to save.
Here — Scots and Poles, Italians, Gauls,
With native emblems trickt;
There — Teuton corps, who fought before
Fur Freiheit und fur Licht ;1
While round the Flag the Irish like a human rampart go!
They found Cead mille failthe2 here — they'll give it to the foe.
From the vine-land, from the Rhine-land,
From the Shannon, from the Scheldt,
From the ancient homes of genius,
From the sainted home of Celt,
From Italy, from Hungary,
All as brothers join and come,
To the sinew-bracing bugle,
And the foot-propelling drum:
Too proud beneath the Starry Flag to die, and keep secure
The Liberty they dreamed of by the Danube, Elbe, and Suir.
From every hearth bounds up a heart,
As spring from hill-side leaps,
To give itself to those proud streams
That make resistless deeps!
No book-rapt sage, for age on age,
Can point to such a sight
As this deep throb, which woke from rest
A people armed for fight.
Peal out, ye bells, the tocsin peal, for never since the day
When Peter roused the Christian world has Earth seen such array.
Which way we turn, the eye-balls burn
With joy upon the throng;
'Mid cheers, and prayers, and martial airs,
The soldiers press along;
The masses swell and wildly yell,
On pavement, tree, and roof,
And sun-bright showers of smiles and flowers
Of woman's love give proof.
Peal out, ye bells, from church and dome, in rivalrous communion,
With the wild, upheaving masses, for the Army of the Union!
Onward trending, crowds attending,
Still the army moves — and still;
Arms are clashing, wagons crashing
In the roads and streets they fill;
O'er them banners wave in thousands,
Round them human surges roar,
Like the restless-bosomed ocean,
Heaving on an iron shore;
Cannons thunder, people wonder whence the endless river comes,
With its foam of bristling bayonets, and its cataracts of drums.
“God bless the Union army!”
That holy thought appears
To symbolize the trustful eyes
That speak more loud than cheers.
“God bless the Union army,
And the flag by which it stands;
May it preserve with Freeman's nerve,
What Freedom's God demands!”
Peal out, ye bells — ye women, pray — for never yet went forth
So grand a band, for law and land, as the Muster of the North.