Bombardment of Vicksburg

Dedicated with respect and admiration to Maj.-Gen. Earl Van Dorn.

For sixty days and upward a storm of shell and shot,
Rained ’round as in a flaming shower, but still we faltered not!
“If the noble city perish,” our grand young leader said,
“Let the only walls the foe shall scale be ramparts of the dead!”

For sixty days and upward the eye of heaven waxed dim,
And even throughout God’s holy morn, o’er Christian’s prayer and hymn,
Arose a hissing tumult, as if the fiends of air,
Strove to engulf the voice of faith in shriekings of despair.

There was wailing in the houses, there was trembling on the marts,
While the tempest raged and thundered ’midst the silent thrill of hearts;
But the Lord, our shield, was with us—and ere a month had sped,
Our very women walked the streets, with scarce one throb of dread.

And the little children gambolled—their faces purely raised,
Just for a wondering moment as the huge bombs whirled and blazed!
Then turning with silv’ry laughter to the sports which children love,
Thrice mailed in the sweet instinctive thought that the good God watched above.

Yet the hailing bolts fell faster from scores of flame-clad ships,
And above us, denser, darker, grew the conflict’s wide eclipse,
’Till a solid cloud closed o’er like a type of doom and ire,
Whence shot a thousand quiv’ring tongues of forked and vengeful fire.

But the unseen hands of angels, these death shafts warned aside,
And the dove of heavenly mercy, ruled o’er the battle tide;
In the houses ceased the wailing, and through the war-scarred marts,
The people strode with the step of hope to the music in their hearts.