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American History Stories, Volume IV by  Mara L. Pratt

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BETHEL

We mustered at midnight, in darkness we formed,

And the whisper went round of a fort to be stormed;

But no drum-beat had called us, no trumpet we heard,

And no voice of command but our colonel's low word,—

"Column! Forward!"


And out, through the mist and the murk of the moon,

From the beaches of Hampton our barges were borne;

And we heard not a sound save a sweep of the oar,

Till the word of our colonel came up from the shore,—

"Column! Forward!"


Through green-tasseled cornfields our columns were thrown,

And like corn by the red scythe of fire we were mown;

While the cannon's fierce ploughings new-furrowed the plain.

That our blood might be planted for Liberty's grain,—

"Column! Forward!"


Oh! the fields of fair June have no lack of sweet flowers,

But their rarest and best breathe no fragrance like ours;

And the sunshine of June sprinkling gold on the corn,

Hath no harvest that ripeneth like Bethel's red morn,—

"Column! Forward!"


[39]

When our heroes, like bridegrooms, with lips and with breath

Drank the first kiss of Danger, and clasped her in death;

And the heart of brave Winthrop* grew mute with his lyre,

When the plumes of his genius lay moulting in fire,—

"Column! Forward!"


Where he fell shall be sunshine as bright as his flame,

And the grass where he slept shall be green as his fame;

For the gold of the Pen and the steel of the Sword

Write his deeds—in his blood—on the land he adored,—

"Column! Forward!"


And the soul of our comrade shall sweeten the air,

And the flowers and the grass-blades his memory upbear;

While the breath of his genius, like music in leaves,

With the corn-tassels whisper, and sings in the sheaves'—

"Column! Forward!"

—A. J. H. Duganne.

----- * Major Theodore Winthrop fell while cheering on his men and was left on the battle-field. Lieutenant Greble was also killed in this battle.


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