The Battle Flags of Iowa
The Battle Flags of lowa.
Tread softly here. ‘Tis valor’s home:
Sons of a noble West,
Beneath the splendors of this dome
Tis fit your banners rest.
Oh! remnant of a mighty host
That marshaled for the fray,
Nor feared war’s dreadful holocaust,
Be welcome here to-day.
Bear once again the flags ye bore
‘Midst howling shot and shell,
And squadrons’ charge, and cannons’ roar,
And shrieks and shouts of hell:
And touch yon silken flags again,
And kiss yon shining stars,
And hold them to your breast as when
You held them in the wars.
Rewaken memories of the past
That long have slumbered still,
And hear once more the bugle’s blast,
And feel the battle’s thrill.
And hear again the shout, “They fly,”—
The cry the victors gave –
Oh! never yet was such a cry
Heard this side of the grave.
And if some comrade’s heart blood stain
The tattered stripes and stars,
And naught of the old flag remain
But faded battle scars, —
Think not ‘twas vain that comrade stood,
His sacrifice too high—
For every drop of freedom’s blood
Is written in the sky.
And angles meet with smiling eyes
The comrades that ye gave,
And welcome into Paradise
The spirits of the brave;
And whether in the battle’s smoke,
Or in some prison drear—
God’s angles heard the hearts that broke,
And answered with a tear.
Oh! stars and stripes of Donelson,
And Shiloh’s bloody flags,
Think ye there’s naught of all ye won
Save these poor faded rags?
Think ye no memories of the past
Can stir our hearts to-day?
Nor cry “To Arms,” nor bugle’s blast,
Nor battle’s fierce array?
Oh! banners that Atlanta knew—
And Vicksburg’s frowning heights,
With bloody hands they welcomed you
In half a hundred fights.
Think ye the hands that bore you then
On Chattanooga’s brow,
On Corinth’s field, and Belmont’s plain,
Can be forgotten now?
Cursed, doubly cursed, who would forget
That these town banners here
With his own father’s blood were wet,
With his own mother’s tear;
That when on Lookout’s heights was borne
Amidst the battle’s shout,
Yon stars and stripes, now old torn,
His brother’s life went out.
Oh! flags that never knew defeat,
Nor led a conquest war,
That waved o’er many a fort and fleet,
And never lost a star:
Come there not sometimes in the night,
When all the world is still,
The heroes of Iuka’s fights,
The men of Champion’s Hill?
Assemble round you once again,
In uniforms of blue,
A thousand spirits of the slain
That gave their lives for you?
From out their graves at Winchester
See ye their colnmns wheel?
From Pea Ridge, and from Wilson’s Creek,
The stormers of Mobile?
Come they not smiling once again
About your table-round,
To sit there in the moonlight, when
There is no battle sou’ d?
And tell of dangers half forgot,
Of battles long since by—
And how for liberty ‘tis not
So hard a thing to die?
Oh! Land with patriots such as these,
Securely can’st thou rest—
And fear no foes, on land or seas,
No traitors, East or West.
Oh! Thou that kept these heroes brave
When the dark conflict came,
Make us but worthy what they gave,
And worthy of their fame.