Scott and the Veteran
Scott And The Veteran. by Bayard Taylor.
An old and crippled veteran to the War Department came;
He sought the Chief who led him, on many a field of fame—
The Chief who shouted “Forward!” where’er his banner rose,
And bore its stars in triumph, behind the flying foes.
Have you forgotten, General, the battered soldier cried,
“The days of eighteen hundred twelve, when I was at your side?
Have you forgotten Johnson, who fought at Lundy’s Lane?
’Tis true I’m old and pensioned, but I want to fight again.”
“Have I forgotten?” said the Chief, “my brave old soldier, No!
And here’s the hand I gave you then, and let it tell you so;
But you have done your share, my friend; you’re crippled, old, and gray,
And we have need of younger arms and fresher blood to-day.”
“But, General!” cried the veteran—a flush upon his brow—
“The very men who fought with us, they say, are traitor’s now:
They’ve torn the flag of Lundy’s Lane—our old red, white and blue—
And while a drop of blood is left, I’ll show that drop is true.
“I’m not so weak but I can strike, and I’ve a good old gun,
To get the range of traitors’ hearts, and prick them one by one;
Your Minie rifles and such arms, it ain’t worth while to try:
I couldn’t get the hang of them, but I’ll keep my powder dry!”
“God bless you comrade!” said the chief—“God bless your loyal heart!
But younger men are in the field, and claim to have their part;
They’ll plant our sacred banner in each rebellious town,
And woe, henceforth, to any hand that dares to pull it down!”
“But, General!”—still persisting, the weeping veteran cried;
“I’m young enough to follow, so long as you’re my guide:
And some, you know, must bite the dust, and that, at least, can I;
So, give the young ones place to fight, and me a place to die.
“If they should fire on Pickens, let the Colonel in command
Put me upon the rampart, with the flagstaff in my hand:
No odds how much the cannons smoke, or how the shells may fly,
I’ll hold the Stars and Stripes aloft, and hold them till I die!
“I’m ready, General, so you let a post to me be given
Where Washington can see me, as he looks from highest Heaven,
And say to Putnam at his side, or may be, General Wayne:
There stands old Billy Johnson, that fought at Lundy’s Lane!”
“And when the fight is hottest, before the traitors fly—
When shell and ball are screeching, and bursting in the sky—
If any shot should hit me, and lay me on my face,
My soul would go to Washington’s, and not to Arnold’s place!”