The Death Of President Lincoln

(A Romance.)

December 11th, 1867.

The fleecy clouds had passed away
Before the bright approach of day,
And now the morning's radiance shines
Upon an Army's order'd lines,
And light the glancing sunbeams play'd
On bayonet point and sabre-blade.
Slow rolled the ponderous mass along
A hundred thousand bayonets strong,
And thirty thousand horses prance
Impatient of the slow advance,
While o'er those glittering groves of steel
The striped and coloured spangles reel
And Hail! Columbia! lofty notes
Peel from the trumpets brazen throats.

From post to post the generals ride.
The army's steady march to guide,
And aides fly swiftly o'er the plain
With bloody spur and slacken'd rein;
And far and wide on every side
The hollow trembling earth replied
To those grim legions measured stride
On dark Virginia's shore
And many a heart bounds high with pride
That soon shall beat no more.

The foe, of far inferior force,
Scarce sixty thousand foot and horse,
Stand watching with undaunted glance
The Federal foeman's grim advance;
And turn again their hopeful eyes
To where their own loved banner flies
That flag of tesselated bars,
That on its checks bore seven white stars
Which waved on many a field before
But now, alas! is seen no more:
Its short and bright career is o'er,
Its light was quenched in streams of gore.

Far on the left, where rank on rank,
Kentucky's footmen held the flank,
A youthful warrior rode alone,
To every Southern soldier known,
For that long falchion by his side
Had turn'd the battle's doubtful tide
In many a dark and desperate fight
When right still triumphed over might.
His simple dress, undeck'd with lace,
Bore no brigade's distinctive trace —
'Twas Booth, who long had vow'd to stand
The Champion of his Fatherland;
Unflinching, faithful, firm and fast,
And strike for freedom to the last.

He rode a horse of spotless white,
With ample chest, and limbs of might
That fiercely strains upon the reins
As, slow advancing o'er the plains,
He marks the Union ranks of grey
And greets them with a furious neigh —
He lists the hollow thundering drum
Which tells him that the time is come
To charge these hostile columns home,
And flashing flakes of feathery foam
Fly from his chafing mouth.
First in the charge's wild career,
And in retreat the last in rear,
And, first or last, unknowing fear,
That noble beast had not his peer
In all the spacious South.

At once, on centre, left and right,
The loud artillery woke the fight
With round-shot, grape and shell
And loud the cry of conflict rose
As fiercely now the armies close
And vain it were to tell
How, charging on the cannon's mouth,
The fiery soldiers of the South
Were midway met in deadly strife,
Where each man fought for death or life
And thousands bled and fell.
Before the Federals charged — ere yet
The heavy armed battalions met
In conflict fierce and dire.
While skirmishers in scatter'd rank,
Extended far on front and flank,
Maintained a dropping fire —
While every ear was bent to hear
Their proud Commander's word.
To bid them charge at full career
With bayonet and sword.

Booth calmly watched their threatening course
And sternly reined his furious horse.
But when the opening cannon rung
And bugles blew and charged aloud,
His weapon from the scabbard sprung
Like lightning from the thunder-cloud —
And where the bayonets reddest shine
Along the Federals' charging line —
Where wounded horses wildly leap
Through pools of life-blood fetlock deep —
There his gigantic battle-horse
Swept onward in resistless course.
Round his invulnerable head
His reeking crescent blade,
Still scattering drops of crimson red,
In lightning circles played.
Through fire and smoke the war horse dash'd
Unharm'd by shot or shell,
And where that falling weapon flash'd
A Federal soldier fell.

But Lee, who mark'd with eagle glance
The Federals' last reserve advance,
Call'd up his veterans grim and grey,
The flower of Southern infantry —
Down where the dark palmettos wave
Ten thousand Carolinians brave
Their double column shows
Each moment fringed their ranks with flame,
And fast the withering volleys came
Against their flinching foes,
And through the batteries of the North
Their fatal welcome thunder'd forth
In showers of iro
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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"The Death Of President Lincoln" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 4 Aug. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/24529/the-death-of-president-lincoln>.

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