The Roll Call by N. G. Shepherd

"Corporal Green!" the orderly cried;
"Here!" was the answer, loud and clear,
From the lips of the soldier standing near,
And "Here" was the answer the next replied.
 
"Cyrus Drew!"—then a silence fell—
This time no answer followed the call,
Only the rear man had seen him fall,
Killed or wounded he could not tell.
 
There they stood in the failing light,
These men of battle, with grave dark looks,
As plain to be read as open books,
While slowly gathered the shades of night.
 
The fern on the hillside was splashed with blood,
And down in the corn, where the poppies grew
Were redder stains than the poppies knew
And crimson-dyed was the river's flood.
 
"Herbert Kline!" At the call there came
Two stalwart soldiers into the line,
Bearing between them Herbert Kline,
Wounded and bleeding, to answer his name.
 
"Ezra Kerr!"—and a voice said "Here!"
"Hiram Kerr!"—but no man replied.
They were brothers, these two; the sad winds sighed,
And a shudder crept through the cornfield near.
 
"Ephraim Deane!" then a soldier spoke;
"Deane carried our regiment's colors," he said;
"Where our ensign was shot, I left him dead,
Just after the enemy wavered and broke.
 
"Close by the roadside his body lies;
I paused a moment and gave him a drink,
He murmured his mother's name I think,
And Death came with it and closed his eyes."
 
'Twas a victory; yes, but it cost us dear—
For that company's roll when called that night,
Of a hundred men who went into the fight,
Numbered but twenty that answered "Here!"