On that mighty day of battle, ‘mid the booming and the rattle,
Shouts of victory and of anguish, where with Malvern’s hill did roar,
Did a general now quite, fameless, who in these lines shall be nameless,
Show himself as rather gameless, gameless on the James’ shore;
Safely smoking on a gunboat, while the tempest raged on shore?
The Congressional Committee sat within the nation’s city,
And each Congressman so witty did the general implore:
“ Tell us if thou at that battle, ‘mid the booming and the rattle,
Wert on gunboat or in saddle while the tempest raged ashore?”
Answer he: I don’t remember: might have been.” What more?
By the truth, which is eternal, by the lies that are diurnal,
By our Abraham paternal,. General, we do thee implorer.
Tell the truth and shame the devil, parent of Old Jeff and evil;
Give us no more of such drivel. Tell us, wert thou on the shore?”
“ Don’t remember — might have been,” thus spoke he o’er and o’er—
“On that day, sir, had you seen a gunboat of the name Galena,
In an anchorage to screen a man from danger on the shore?
Was a man about your inches, smoking with those two French princes,
With a caution which evinces care for such a garde de corps?
Were you that man on the gunboat?” “Don’t remember, might have been,” The bore.