Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Palmetto and the Pine

I just acquired an old book Under Both Flags  edited by C. R. Graham, published in 1896. It's title page describes it as an "unprejudiced representation of the issues that divided our country, as told in the personal recollections of those who participated in the campaigns, marches, sufferings, anecdotes, and instances of dauntless heroism which glorified send ennobled this gigantic struggle for the supremacy of the Union."

Of course, it does not note that such recollections rarely, if ever, are "unprejudiced" but that at least was the object of this oversized book or at least its editor. I have not looked through it all to judge its success at meeting that lofty  ambitionbut the book's introduction certainly claims a theme of reconciliation and togetherness as its goal.

Included in this section is a poem called The  Palmetto and the Pine which I am publishing below. It's pulse obviously matches what the book itself wished to accomplish and I thought it was worth reading.

While the months to years are fleeting like a river's ceaseless flow,
And the landmarks old grow dimmer in the distant long ago,
Let us glance once more behind us, where our battle days were seen, 
Where our blood, like holly berries, sprinkled thick the grassy green.

There, in rifle pit, on rampart, or upon the open field,
Come the visions of battalions that would rather die than yield - 
Come the stately forms of vessels with their crews of sailors brave,
Whose memorial crests of glory are the white caps of the wave.

Once these men were happy, peaceful, till that bloody war, and then -
When it ended they returned homeward from their dead to peace again.
Why the fought, why lost, who triumphed, who was wrong, or who was right,
Matters not ; there our brothers, and we're not afraid to fight.

'Neath the fairest flag that flutters under Heaven's azure dome
Dwell these warriors and their children in sweet Freedom's chosen home.
In his heart each holds a welcome for the soldier at his door,
And he never stops to question which the uniform he wore.

We were soldiers, only soldiers of the nation let us be.
Let us meet and greet as comrades though we fought with Grant or Lee;
Let us form a noble order with sweet Freedom for our shrine,
And for each enwreathe a token - the Palmetto and the Pine.

---
After these verses, the introduction continues: 

The sons and daughters of the North and South will always honor the gallantry of their American sires. No moral attainder should dim the path of a soldier's child; and it is to bind together fraternally the millions yet unborn that these truths be recognized and held aloft now.

In this spirit it is hoped that Tales of the Civil War as Told by the Veterans will be accepted and read, never forgetting that the proudest tribute we can pay to the memory of the brave men of both armies, is they were Americans.







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