By Virginia F. Townsend
It was just before the last great charge,
Two soldiers drew their rein
For a touch of hands and a parting word –
They might never meet again!
One had blue eyes and curling hair –
Nineteen but a month ago,
It was down on his chin and red o’er his cheek –
He was only a boy, you know.
The other was tall, dark, stern and proud,
And his fate in the world looked dim,
He only trusted the more in those
Who were all the world to him.
They had ridden together in many a raid,
And marched for many a mile,
And ever till now they had met the foe
With a calm and hopeful smile.
But now there was settled upon each brow
An awful ashy gloom
The tall, dark man was the first to speak,
Saying, “Charley, my hour has come,
We shall ride together up the hill,
But you will return alone –
From this a little trouble please take
For me when I am gone.”
“I have a face upon my breast,
I shall wear it into the fight,
With calm, blue eyes and sunny curls
And smiles like morning light,
Her smiles were all the world to me,
And cheered my lonely life,
But little cared I for the frowns of life
When she promised to be my wife.”
Tears dimmed the eyes of that blue-eyed boy,
And his voice was low with pain –
“I’ll do your bidding, comrade mind,
If I should return again;
But if I should fall and you return,
You must do the same for me,
For I have a mother to hear the news;
Please write to her tenderly.
“One after another of those she loved,
She has buried them – husband and son,
I was the last – my country called –
She kissed me and sent me on.
She has prayer at home like a waiting saint,
Her fond face white and woe.
Her heart will be broken when I am gone,
I shall see her soon, I know.”
Just then the order came to charge
For an instant hand touched hand;
Then answering eyes, and on they rode,
That brave and devoted band.
They rode till they came to the crest of the hill
Where the Yankees with shot and with shell
Plowed drifts of death through their toiling ranks,
And jeered them as they fell.
They turned with a horrible dying yell
From those heights they could not gain,
And those whom Death and Doom had spared
Came slowly back again –
But among the dead who lay on the field
Was the boy with the curly hair;
And the tall, dark man who rode by his side
Lay dead beside him there.
Now there’s no one to write to the blue – eyed girl
Those words which her lover had said;
And the mother who waits her boy’s return
Can but learn that he is dead.
She never can know those last fond words
Which sought to soften her pain,
Until she crossed the River of Death
And stand by his side again.
A Constant Reader and Admirer of “Requested Poetry”
For S. L. J., Roxbury, Mass