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55. Sumter — a ballad of 1861.

'Twas on the twelfth of April,
     Before the break of day,
We heard the guns of Moultrie
     Give signal for the fray.

Anon across the waters
     There boomed the answering gun,
From north and south came flash on flash,
     The battle had begun.

The mortars belched their deadly food
     And spiteful whizz'd the balls,
A fearful storm of iron hailed
     On Sumter's doomed walls.

We watched the meteor flight of shell,
     And saw the lightning flash--
Saw where each fiery missile fell,
     And heard the sullen crash.

The morn was dark and cloudy,
     Yet till the sun arose,
No answer to our gallant boys
     Came booming from our foes.

[37] Then through the dark and murky clouds
     The morning sunlight came,
And forth from Sumter's frowning walls
     Burst sudden sheets of flame.

Then shot and shell flew thick and fast,
     The war-dogs howling spoke,
And thundering came their angry roar,
     Through wreathing clouds of smoke.

Again to fight for liberty,
     Our gallant sons had come,
They smiled when came the bugle call,
     And laughed when tapped the drum.

From cotton and from corn field,
     From desk and forum, too,
From work bench and from anvil, came
     Our gallant boys and true!

A hireling band had come to awe,
     Our chains to rivet fast;
Yon lofty pile scowls on our homes,
     Seaward the hostile mast.

But gallant freemen man our guns--
     No mercenary host,
Who barter for their honor's price,
     And of their baseness boast.

Now came our stately matrons,
     And maidens, too, by scores;
Oh! Carolina's beauty shone
     Like love-lights on her shores.

See yonder, anxious gazing,
     Alone a matron stands,
The tear drop glistening on each lid,
     And tightly clasped her hands.

For there, exposed to deadly fire,
     Her husband and her son--
“Father,” she spoke, and heavenward look'd,
     “Father, thy will be done.”

See yonder group of maidens,
     No joyous laughter now,
For cares lie heavy on each heart,
     And cloud each anxious brow;

For brothers dear and lovers fond,
     Are there amid the strife;
Tearful the sister's anxious gaze--
     Pallid the promised wife.

Yet breathed no heart one thought of fear,
     Prompt at their country's call,
They yielded forth their dearest hopes,
     And gave to honor all!

Now comes a message from below--
     Oh! quick the tidings tell--
“At Moultrie and Fort Johnson, too,
     And Morris', all are well!”

Then mark the joyous bright'ning;
     See how each bosom swells;
That friends and loved ones all are safe,
     Each to the other tells.

All day the shot flew thick and fast,
     All night the cannon roared,
While wreathed in smoke stern Sumter stood,.
     And vengeful answer poured.

Again the sun rose, bright and clear,
     'Twas on the thirteenth day,
While, lo! at prudent distance moored,
     Five hostile vessels lay.

With choicest Abolition crews--
     The bravest of their brave--
They'd come to pull our Crescent down
     And dig Secession's grave.

“See, see, how Sumter's banner trails,
     They're signalling for aid.
See you no boats of armbd men?
     Is yet no movement made?”

Now densest smoke and lurid flames
     Burst out o'er Sumter's walls;
“The fort's on fire,” is the cry,
     Again for aid he calls.

See you no boats or vessels yet?
     Dare they not risk one shot,
To make report grandiloquent
     Of aid they rendered not?

Nor boat, nor vessel, leaves the fleet,
     “Let the old Major burn,”
We'll boast of what we would have done,
     If but — on our return.

Go back, go back, ye cravens;
     Go back the way ye came;
Ye gallant, would-be men-of-war,
     Go! to your country's shame.

'Mid fiery storm of shot and shell,
     'Mid smoke and roaring flame,
See Kentucky's gallant son
     Does honor to her name!

See how he answers gun for gun--
     Hurrah! his flag is down!
The white! the white! Oh see it wave!
     Is echoed all around.

God save the gallant Anderson,
     All honor to his name,
A soldier's duty nobly done,
     He's earned a hero's fame.

Now ring the bells a joyous peal,
     And rend with shouts the air,
We've torn the hated banner down,
     And placed the Crescent there.

All honor to our gallant boys,
     Bring forth the roll of fame,
And there in glowing lines inscribe
     Each patriot hero's name.

Spread, spread, the tidings far and wide,
     Ye winds take up the cry,
“Our soil's redeemed from hateful yoke,
     We'll keep it pure or die.”

E. O. M.

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