Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, GARFIELD'S RIDE AT CHICKAMAUGA, by HEZEKIAH BUTTERWORTH



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GARFIELD'S RIDE AT CHICKAMAUGA, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Again the summer-fevered skies
Last Line: By chickamauga river.
Subject(s): American Civil War; Chickamauga, Battle Of (1863); Garfield, James Abram (1831-1881); Thomas, George Henry (1816-1870); United States - History


AGAIN the summer-fevered skies,
The breath of autumn calms;
Again the golden moons arise
On harvest-happy farms.
The locusts pipe, the crickets sing
Among the falling leaves,
And wandering breezes sigh, and bring
The harp-notes of the sheaves.

Peace smiles upon the hills and dells;
Peace smiles upon the seas;
And drop the notes of happy bells
Upon the fruited trees.
The broad Missouri stretches far
Her commerce-gathering arms,
And multiply on Arkansas
The grain-encumbered farms.

Old Chattanooga, crowned with green,
Sleeps 'neath her walls in peace;
The Argo has returned again,
And brings the Golden Fleece.
O nation! free from sea to sea,
In union blessed forever,
Fair be their fame who fought for thee
By Chickamauga River.

The autumn winds were piping low,
Beneath the vine-clad eaves;
We heard the hollow bugle blow
Among the ripened sheaves.
And fast the mustering squadrons passed
Through mountain portals wide,
And swift the blue brigades were massed
By Chickamauga's tide.

It was the Sabbath; and in awe
We heard the dark hills shake,
And o'er the mountain turrets saw
The smoke of battle break.
And 'neath the war-cloud, gray and grand,
The hills o'erhanging low,
The Army of the Cumberland,
Unequal, met the foe!

Again, O fair September night!
Beneath the moon and stars,
I see, through memories dark and bright,
The altar-fires of Mars.
The morning breaks with screaming guns
From batteries dark and dire,
And where the Chickamauga runs
Red runs the muskets' fire.

I see bold Longstreet's darkening host
Sweep through our lines of flame,
And hear again, "The right is lost!"
Swart Rosecrans exclaim.
"But not the left!" young Garfield cries;
"From that we must not sever,
While Thomas holds the field that lies
On Chickamauga River!"

Oh! on that day of clouded gold,
How, half of hope bereft,
The cannoneers, like Titans, rolled
Their thunders on the left!
I see the battle-clouds again,
With glowing autumn splendors blending:
It seemed as if the gods with men
Were on Olympian heights contending.

Through tongues of flame, through meadows brown,
Dry valley roads concealed,
Ohio's hero dashes down
Upon the rebel field.
And swift, on reeling charger borne,
He threads the wooded plain,
By twice a hundred cannon mown,
And reddened with the slain.

But past the swathes of carnage dire,
The Union guns he hears,
And gains the left, begirt with fire,
And thus the heroes cheers --
"While stands the left, yon flag o'erhead,
Shall Chattanooga stand!"
"Let the Napoleons rain their lead!"
Was Thomas's command.

Back swept the gray brigades of Bragg;
The air with victory rung;
And Wurzel's "Rally round the flag!"
'Mid Union cheers was sung.
The flag on Chattanooga's height
In twilight's crimson waved,
And all the clustered stars of white
Were to the Union saved.

O chief of staff! the nation's fate
That red field crossed with thee,
The triumph of the camp and state,
The hope of liberty!
O nation! free from sea to sea,
With union blessed forever,
Not vainly heroes fought for thee
By Chickamauga River.

In dreams I stand beside the tide
Where those old heroes fell:
Above the valleys long and wide
Sweet rings the Sabbath bell.
I hear no more the bugle blow.
As on that fateful day!
I hear the ringdove fluting low,
Where shaded waters stray.

On Mission Ridge the sunlight streams
Above the fields of fall,
And Chattanooga calmly dreams
Beneath her mountain-wall.
Old Lookout Mountain towers on high,
As in heroic days,
When 'neath the battle in the sky
Were seen its summits blaze.

'T was ours to lay no garlands fair
Upon the graves "unknown":
Kind Nature sets her gentians there,
And fall the sear leaves lone.
Those heroes' graves no shaft of Mars
May mark with beauty ever;
But floats the flag of forty stars
By Chickamauga River.





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