Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, BY THE LITTLE BIG-HORN, by JOHN TROTWOOD MOORE



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BY THE LITTLE BIG-HORN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Down to their death in the valley of silence
Last Line: The eight nameless horsemen who never shall die.
Subject(s): Courage; Heroism; Honor; Little Bighorn, Battle Of; Loyalty; Military Service, Compulsory; Monuments; Soldiers; Valor; Bravery; Heroes; Heroines; Conscription; Military Draft; Selective Service


(A Montana paper is authority for the statement that a half-breed Sioux,
who had served as scout for Gen. Custer, was living in that State a few years
ago, and claimed to be the only survivor of Custer's last fight. In the
confusion this half-breed mingled with the Sioux and escaped the massacre by
reason of close tribal resemblance. He relates how eight horsemen of the Seventh
Regiment cut through the Sioux and gained the foot-hills beyond, where they
could easily have joined Reno and escaped, had they not looked down and seen the
desperate strait in which their general was placed. To the astonishment of all,
they shot their own horses, and, forming into line, marched back to die with
Custer.)

DOWN to their death in the valley of silence,
Down where the Sioux's treach'rous ranks lay at bay,
Down till the yellow waves turned into crimson
The old Seventh rode on that ill-fated day.
"Forward, the Seventh! Charge through the Sioux center!"
'Twas Custer who said it—he rode on the right—
His long yellow hair was the banner they followed
And he sat his black horse like the Centaur of fight!

Down to their death in that somber-hued valley,
They rode through the Sioux with carbine and Colt—
The reins in their teeth and the glint of their sabers
Making the flash for their lead thunderbolt.
"Forward, the Seventh—guide right! To the center!"
'Twas Custer who said it, as onward he sped,
Spurring his steed where the eagle's grey feathers
Rose o'er the crest of the billows of red.

Out from that valley, that valley of carnage,
Eight horsemen have cut through the ranks of the foe;
They gain the bold heights and safely look downward,
Down on the scene of this new Alamo.
For there, his dead steed as a breastwork before him,
With the glory of battle ablaze in his eye,
Answering it back in flash of his pistols,
Our prince of the saddle has stopped there—to die!
Again and again roll the billows of fury
To be shattered again as the wave on the rock;
Again and again melts the line of the Seventh
Beneath the Sioux bullet and Wahpeton shock.
But see! from the heights where their good steeds have clambered,
Out-footing Sioux ponies in fleet-winged flight,
The eight have dismounted—one glance tells the story—
They shoulder their rifles and dress to the right.

They hear the wild whoop of the bloodmad-dened savage,
They see their brave comrades go down in the brunt,
They hear through the din the calm voice of brave Custer—
A breastwork of dead he has made in his front!
"Attention, squad!" 'twas the sergeant who said it,
"Fours right into line—our duty lies back!"
Then quick from his belt came a blue-gleaming barrel,
And the steed that had saved him lay dead in its track!

Back to their death in that valley of slaughter
Eight horsemen march down on the hosts of the Sioux,
Not a trumpet gave note—not the gleam of a banner—
'Tis only a duty they march down to do.
"Forward, squad!" said the sergeant immortal—
"Charge straight for the center—to Custer once more,"
And Time, in his pitiless flight, for a moment
Looked down on a sight he had ne'er seen before.

Up in that valley, that sweetly green valley,
O, raise them a monument proudly in air,
Telling the story as ages grow hoary
What American soldiers for duty will dare.
High on the shaft in the glint of the sunlight
Let Custer's proud figure, heroic, stand high,
And grouped just beneath, with immortelle wreath,
The eight nameless horsemen who never shall die.





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