AWAKE and to horse, my brothers!
For the dawn is glimmering gray,
And hark! in the crackling brushwood
There are feet that tread this way.

“Who cometh?” “A friend.” “What tidings?”
“O God! I sicken to tell;
For the earth seems earth no longer,
And its sights are sights of hell!

“From the far-off conquered cities
Comes a voice of stifled wail,
And the shrieks and moans of the houseless
Ring out like a dirge on the gale.

“I’ve seen from the smoking village
Our mothers and daughters fly;
I’ve seen where the little children
Sank down in the furrows to die.

On the banks of the battle-stained river
I stood as the moonlight shone,
And it glared on the face of my brother
As the sad wave swept him on.

“Where my home was glad are ashes,
And horrors and shame had been there,
For I found on the fallen lintel
This tress of my wife’s torn hair!

“They are turning the slaves upon us,
And with more than the fiend’s worst art
Have uncovered the fire of the savage
That slept in his untaught heart!

“The ties to our hearths that bound him,
They have rent with curses away,
And maddened him, with their madness,
To be almost as brutal as they.

“With halter, and torch, and Bible,
And hymns to the sound of the drum,
They preach the gospel of murder,
And pray for lust’s kingdom to come.

“To saddle! to saddle! my brothers!
Look up to the rising sun,
And ask of the God who shines there
Whether deeds like these shall be done.

“Wherever the Vandal cometh
Press home to his heart with your steel,
And when at his bosom you cannot,
Like the serpent, go strike at his heel.

“Through thicket and wood go hunt him,
Creep up to his camp-fire side,
And let ten of his corpses blacken,
Where one of our brothers hath died.

’In his fainting foot-sore marches,
In his flight from the stricken fray,
In the snare of the lonely ambush,
The debts we owe him pay.

“In God’s hand alone is vengeance,
But he strikes with the hands of men,
And his blight would wither our manhood
If we smite not the smiter again.

“By the graves where our fathers slumber,
By the shrines where our mothers prayed,
By our homes, and hopes, and freedom,
Let every man swear on his blade,

“That he will not sheath nor stay it,
Till from point to hilt it glow
With the flush of Almighty vengeance
In the blood of the felon foe.”

They swore—and the answering sunlight
Leaped red from their lifted swords,
And the hate in their hearts made echo
To the wrath in their burning words.

There’s weeping in all New England,
And by Schuylkill’s banks a knell,
And the widows there, and the orphans,
How the oath was kept can tell.

Originally posted 2008-06-23 11:54:14.

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I'm a lover of God and His Son Jesus Christ. In addition I love to make yesterday's words come alive through the republishing of good and profitable books of old. The Civil War project is an ongoing labor of love. - Karan
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