Friday, August 12, 2016

1861 Poem: The First Guns of Sumter

This is from the Covington Journal of April 20, 1861, its first edition that mentioned the start of the Civil War. (Its editers apparently did not receive the news of Fort Sumter in time for the April 13th issue.)

This was certainly a pro-southern piece, written in the northern tip of Kentucky, a state of both Union and Confederate sympathies. I also noted the different references to "slaves," "Abolition's horde," "Abolitionsm," and "slavish myrmidons," indicating its author had a belief in a key issue in the war. 



THE FIRST GUNS OF SUMTER
By J.A. Hart 

Hark! the sound O, Southern brothers, that comes booming o'er the waves;
Sumter's deep-mouthed cannon, loud proclaiming you are slaves,
'Tis the thundering announcement of vile Abolition's horde,
That Southern Rights can be sustained but by the crimsoned sword.

How have we truly hoped for peace, have treated and have prayed,
Have trusted Abolitionism and meetly been betrayed!
Now through the banner of the breeze - draw the fulchion of the free,
And swear that while we trust in God, we'll bend no supplicant's knees.

Our wives, loves, sisters call on us - our mothers urge us too,
To seize our swords and take the field against our haughty foe;
With more than Spartan heroism they bid us to go forth,
And meet the slavish myrmidons thrown on us by the North.

We'll meet them, too - and that like men - though numerous as the sands,
With Right to lead and rifles in our steady, true right hands,
The God of Battles shall decide in this our last appeal,
If Liberty shall still be crushed beneath Oppression's heel.

Be our cities desolated, and our rvers stained with blood,
Be our best and bravest hidden 'neath their verdant native sod;
But never let a Southerner, who bows alone to God,
Debase his mother's teaching e'er or kiss a tyrant's rod.

Sweet Liberty! can men resign or tamely give thee up, 
Or listen to the siren's song, or taste the poisoned cup,
Of proffered peace, when purchased by what's dear to every heart -
The right to think, and feel and speak and set a manly part?

No! Spurn the siren, scorn the cup, and strike oppression down,
And peace shall yet triumphant'y your brows with laurel crown!
Fear not - our God when pleases Him, will give you his reward,
And still remain, throughout all time, your anchor staff and guard.
---
Covington, Ky., April 17, 1861


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