Picket's Last Watch
D. A. WARDEN, By the sad Potomac Shore. General Scott and Corporal Johnson.
Picket’s Last Watch.
All quiet along the Potomac “they say”
“Except now and then a stray Picket”
Is shot as he walks on his beat to and fro—
By a rifleman hid in the thicket
’Tis nothing a private or two, now add then,
Will not count in the news of the battle,
Not an officer lost only one of the men,
Meaning out all alone the death rattle.
All quiet along the Potomac to night,
Where the soldiers lie peacefully dreaming;
Their tents, in the rays of the clear autumn moon
Or the light of the watch fires are gleaming,
A tremulous sigh, as the gentle night-wind
Through the forest leaves softly is creeping;
While stars up above, with their glittering eyes,
Keep guard for the army is sleeping.
There’s only the sound of the lone sentry’s tread,
As he tramps from the rock to the fountain,
And thinks of the two in the low trundle bed,
Far away in the cot on the mountain
His musket falls slack—his face, dark and grim,
Grows gentle with memories tender,
As he mutters a prayer for the children asleep—
For their mother—may Heaven defend her!
The moon seems to shine just as brightly as then,
That night when the love yet unspoken
Leaped up to his lips—when low—murmured vows
Were pledged to be ever unbroken,
Then drawing his sleeve roughly over his eyes
He dashes off tears that are welling,
And gathers his gua closer up to its place,
As if to keep down the heart swelling.
He passes the fountain, the blasted pine tree,
The footstep is lagging and weary;
Yet onward he goes, through the broad belt of light,
Toward the shade of the forest so dreary?
Hark! was it the night-wind that rustled the leaves?
Was it moonlight so wondrously flashing;
It looks like a rifle—“Ha! Mary, good bye.”
And the life blood is ebbing and splashing.
All quiet along the Potomac to-night,
No sound save the rush of the river;
While soft falls the dew on the face of the dead.
The Pickets off duty forever.
Auner, Printer, 110 North 10th, St., Philadelphia.