The muffled drum’s sad roll has beat
The soldier’s last tattoo;
No more on life’s parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On fame’s eternal camping ground
Their silent tents to spread,
And glory guards, with solemn round
The bivouac of the dead.
The rumor of the foe’s advance
Now swells upon the wind;
Nor troubled thought at midnight haunts
Of loves ones left behind;
No vision of the morrows strife
The warriors dream’s alarms;
No braying horn or screaming fife
At dawn shall come to arms.
Their shriveled swords are red with rust,
Their plumed heads are bowed,
Their haughty banner, trailed in dust,
Is now their martial shroud.
And plenteous funeral tears have washed
The red stains from each brow,
And the proud forms, by battle gashed
Are free from anguish now.
The neighing troop, the flashing blade,
The bugle’s stirring blast,
The charge, the dreadful cannonade,
The din and shout, are past;
Nor war’s wild note, nor glory’s peal
Shall thrill with fierce delight
Those breast that nevermore may feel
The rapture of the fight.
Like the fierce Northern hurricane
That sweeps the great plateau,
Flushed with triumph, yet to gain,
Come down the serried foe,
Who heard the thunder of the fray
Break o’er the field beneath,
Knew the watch word of the day
Was “victory or death!”
Long had the doubtful conflict raged
O’er that stricken plain,
For never fierce fight had waged
The vengeful blood of Spain;
And still the storm of battle blew,
Still swelled the glory tide;
Not long, our stout old Chieftain knew,
Such odd his strength could bide.
Twas in that hour his stern command
Called to a martyr’s grave
The flower of his beloved land,
The nation’s flag to save.
By river’s of their father’s gore
His first-born laurels grew,
And well he deemed the sons would pour
Their lives for glory too.
For many a mother’s breath has swept
O’er Angostura’s plain—-
And long the pitying sky has wept
About it’s moldered slain.
The raven’s scream, or eagle’s flight,
Or sheperd’s pensive lay
Alone awakes each sullen height
That frowned o’er that dread fray
Theodore O’Hara (1820-1867)