The Hero of Franklin – poem

By Mrs. D.N. Bash


General David S. Stanley

The western sun is streaming across the Southern sky,

Bright bayonets are gleaming as troop on troop pass by;

Here, messengers are hastening to do a chief’s behest,

There, weary men have halted for greatly-needed rest;

For all day long the battle raged, as battle must,

When brothers strive with brothers, and feel their cause is just.

But now the sun is setting, the hard day’s work is o’er,

And watchful friend and foeman alike their dead deplore.

From far and near, the camp-fires send forth a feeble gleam,

While picket watches picket, on either side of stream.

With heavy hearts, the leaders consult as best they may.

And seen with anxious forethought to plan the coming day.

But hark! What means the tumult? Again is heard the peal

Of musketry, and cannon, and clang of glancing steel.

What means the sudden onset? Whence come the noise of war?

From every side the answer is heard above the roar.

The rebels are upon us! Forrest has crossed the ford

And Hood upon our ramparts, with al his host has poured.

No time was now for counsel, for right and left give way;

No power on earth can save us, and Hood will gain the day.

But to one man the peril brings purpose stern and high,

And, seizing on the moment, with fury in his eye,

He dashes ‘mid the conflict, his only conscious thought,

“The patriot dead must be avenged, the battle lost refought.”

Like lightning in a tempest, he dashes far and near,

Death in his fiery onset, and anguish in his rear.

From line to line he hastens to meet the fierce attack,

And faltering hosts are strengthened, the foe is driven back.

What matter that a bullet an ugly wound has made,

Or that a host of heroes beneath the sod are laid?

Once more the tide of battle is turned against the foe —

For this the hearts of Freeman with grateful ardor glow.

It was the hour of danger, the hour of glory, too,

The hour that nerves the bravest unwonted deeds to do.

Proud of their gallant leader, and proud of gallant deeds,

The soldiers shout, “We follow where e’er the general leads.”

All honor, then, to every man whose valor saved the day

Upon the field of Franklin, and turned the bloody fray.

And when one’s children’s children shall read of heroes past,

Around the name of Stanley a glory shall be cast.


Source: Minty and the Cavalry, Joseph Gale, 1886.


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