The Battle of Manassas
P. P. The Battle of Manassas,
Now proudly lift, oh, sunny South,
Your glad, triumphal strains,
From fair Virginia’s verdant hills,
To Texas’ sandy plains.
Now glory to the Southern band
That swept away their gathered hosts,
And laid their banner low!
Long wave our Southern Standard
O’er hearts that never yield;
Like those who won the victory
On proud Manassa’s field!
The Summer sun rose gloriously
That peaceful Sabbath morn,
O’er wooded hill, and verdant vale,
And fields of waving corn.
No solemn bell was tolling out
A welcome to the day—
But there,upon the teuted plain,
Our quiet army lay;
When sudden pealed the bugle’s blast,
And rolled the stormy drum,
And swiftly ran from man to man,
“the foe! they come! they come!”
Oh, there were quick and stern commands,
And hurried mounting then!
Up rose our gallant officers,
Upsprang our eager men!
Each heart, alike of young and old,
Beat high with martial zeal,
As we caught upon the distant hills
The gleam of Yankee steel.
And, silently and slowly,
Our serried ranks fell back;
While onward, marching to their doom,
They followed in our track.
At length our destined point is won—
The order we obey,
And silently our ranks defile,
And form in war array.
There stands the hoary headed sire
Beside his stalwart son;
And there the youth, elate as though
The victory were won;
While on each manly visage,
In every earnest eye,
Is writ the stern resolve,
To conquer or to die!
It was great and glorious sight,
That dazzling Summer day,
As face to face those armies stood
In all their proud array!
There stretched their lines of infantry
In rows of glittering steel,
And thundering o’er the echoing plains
Our fiery troopers wheel;
While on each crowded eminenee
We marked with eager eyes,
Defended front, and flank and rear,
Their boasted batteries.
Now comes a brief, expectant pause—
A hush of solemn awe—
When sudden from their cannon pealed
The thunder notes of war!
We stood as stony status stand,
And scarcely drew a breath,
While thick amid our columns flew
The messengers of death.
We gripped our sheathen sabers,
We reined our chargers hard—
And looked to where brave Johnston stood,
And gallant Beauregard.
Now quick-defiling, right and left,
Their infantry came on—
When sudden, on our distant flank,
Out pealed the signal gun!
And as from out the brooding cloud
The tempest’s wrath is poured,
So ‘mid the whirling sulphur clouds
Our cannon flashed and roared.
Rank alter rank is swept away,
Yet still their numbers swell—
A thousand rushed in the breach
Where but an hundred fell.
As pour the angry ocean waves
On Nova Scotia’s banks,
So downward rushed that Northern horde
Upon our serried ranks.
As stands against the tempest might,
Gibraltar’s living rook,
So stood our gallant Southerners
To meet the mighty shock.
The earth beneath us trembled,
And clouds obscured the sun;
He seemed to pause, and gaze aghast,
As once at Ajalon.
Now fast as falling hail-stones—
Their shot around us pour—
With din of clashing bayonets,
And cannon’s thundering roar.
And thrice their bristling ranks advance,
And thrice before us yield.
Till foot to foot, and hand to hand,
We grappled on the field.
They slowly closed around us—
They wrapped us in their coil;
And Southern blood is poured like rain
Upon the Southern soil!
Down came their fierce artillery,
Down came their fiery Zouaves!
While two to three, each Southern arm
A path before him carves.
But hark! the signal of retreat!
And stubboruly and slow
Our gallant remnant backward falls,
Still fighting as they go;
Still fighting—some with mangled hands,
And some with glazing eyes:
Not one of all the dying yields,
Or of the living, flies.
Ho! courage, noble comrades!
Not yet the day is lost;
For see, upon the dusty hills,
Yon downward-rushing host!
Two weary leagues that Summer day,
To the quickly-timing drum,
Through blinding dust, and burning heat,
Unweariedly they come!
Now, “ELZEY TO THE RESCUE!”
No pause of rest they know,
But charged with levelled bayonets
Upon the shrinking foe!
Again in deadly conflict
Our scattered numbers close;
When, high above the battle’s din,
A mighty shout arose!
Now grappled foemen loose their hold,
And gaze with eager eye;
Whose was that signal of defeat?
And whose the victory?
“Hurra! Hurra!” that mighty shout
The very skies might stun—
“Charge Cavalry! The day is ours!
Their batteries are won!”
With sabers flashing overhead,
With wildly-flowing rein,
A thousand gallant horsemen
Are thundering o’er the plain.
Woe, woe! unto the Northern hordes
In that terrific hour!
They fly,as flee the autmn leaves
Before the tempest’s power.
Their foot are swept before them,
And horse and rider reel,
As right and left in Southern hands,
Flashes the Southern steel.
On, on! Ye gallant victors,
And press your charges hard;
For yonder leads our President,
And noble Beauregard!
“Hurra! For gallant Davis!”
The dying strain their eyes,
And feebly join the mighty shout,
That rends the very skies.
“Hurra!” the foe is vanquished!
Their scattered numbers yield;
And proudly floats our Southern flag
Above Manassas’ field!
Oh, God! It was an awful sight—
That gory battle-palin,
Where horse and rider mingled lay—
The dying and the slain.
There, foeman, gripped in fierce embrace,
Were lying side by side;
And some had crossed their shattered arms,
And, calmly smiling, died;
And hoary heads, all steeped in gore,
Gasped out their latest breath;
And near, the fair and youthful lay,
Still beautiful in death!
Wail, wail! Ye Western matrons—
Weep, maidens of the North!
Who, in the foul oppressor’s cause,
Have sent your kindred forth
And weep, ye Southern women!
Your hearts shall vainly yearn,
For the manly form and the youthful brow
That never can return.
Yet mourn ye not disconsolate;
Their names be ever bright,
Who perished in the cause
Of freedom and of right!
Yea, glory to our noble dead
As to our living brave!
And o’er them may our Southern flag
Forever proudly wave.
Long live our gallant Davis!
And honored ever be
Our Johnston and our Jackson,
Our Beauregard and Lee!
And glory to the Lord of Hosts,
Who was our strength and shield,
And crushed the tyrant’s boasted might,
On stern Manassas’ field.