The Picket Guard
Johnson, Printer, No. 7 North Tenth st
The Picket Guard.
Comrade, how goes the night without,
The wind seems wintry cold,
A weary watch ’twill be to-night,
For our pickets brave and bold.
A weary watch for our noble boys,
But their hearts are brave and true,
And those who wish a soldier’s name,
A soldier’s work must do.
A weary watch the picket keeps,
But his stout heart never fails,
As his keen eye scans the distant hills
And intervening dales
Through long dark hours that endless seem,
Without a resting breath,
For should he sleep upon his post,
The penalty is death.
Death, oh hard the thought must be,
At such a time and place,
When danger’s ever threatening form
So stares him in the face.
With nought to break the stillness,
That seems as of the grave,
Except his own firm measured tramp,
That seems the grass to pave.
Perhaps some distant musket boon,
From out some rebel lair,
Or a comrade’s death shot, who can tell,
Breaks on the midnight air.
The sound excites a moment’s thought,
A moment’s wonder slight,
As soon forgot as echo sinks
Back to the caves of night.
He thinks of what? of war? ah no!
Home memories throng his mind,
And he thinks of letters fresh from home,
And of dear ones left behind:
Of loving ones beside the hearth,
And a little form at prayer,
And he thinking, says, “Elsewhere forgot,
They’ll not forget me there.”
The hours creeps on and daylight breaks,
And a comrade takes the beat,
And the guard unfaltering true,
Dare rest, and rest is sweet!
Upon his lonely camping bed
He seeks from care released,
And dreaming still of friends and home,
The picket sleeps in peace. [Printed, June 1863.