May 31, 1883 (The Commonwealth, a newspaper of Scotland Neck, NC, 1st page)
Our Fallen Heroes.
By the Rev. R.W. Todd.
Hail! busy freemen of Columbia’s soil:
Halt on your ceaseless march—rest from your toil
For one brief day, and list the pleasing story
That now recites our fallen heroes’ glory.
Ye sires and matrons—relicts of the slain;
Young men and maidens born amid the reign
Of that dire strife; ye children, whose gay prattle
Was never marred by din and clang of battle,
Join all, to-day, to swell the nation’s chorus
To those who held the starry banner o’er us.
God, home and country!—holy trinity,
At whose blest shrine the loyal brave and free
Bring votive off’rings from the heart’s true altar!—
God, home and country called, nor did they falter;
But girt them with the armor of the true,
And fealty swore, and wore their country’s blue.
Along the Southern sky, by dark clouds bounded
Red lightnings glared—deep thunders loud resounded;
And threatening tempest swept o’er vales and mountains,
While war’s convulsions oped the bloody fountains
Of ire fraternal—most of all unbrotherly:
Of scorn maternal—most of all unmotherly:
‘Till civil earthquake tore the rocking earth
And ‘mid her throes gave freedom second birth!
Thousands who wore the gray in that sad strife
Were true and manly—pure in heart and life.
And patriotic blood poured out in death.
And closed their eyes, and yielded up their breath.
With purpose, though mistaken, loyal-loving,
Their lives to noble deeds of valor moving.
Full nineteen winters’ snows have robed their graves;
The flowers, as oft, have bloomed o’er fallen braves.
The smiling earth forgets their footsteps straying,
And we can well forgive them—meanwhile praying
For needed pardon for our trust betraying.
On Chickahominy the Gray lay dying,
The Blue came dashing by—a bullet flying.
Pierced his brave heart; he fell beside the other.
They each grasped dying hands, and each said, “Brother,
For all our bitterness we make amends.
We lived as enemies, we die as friends!”
And in the land where Christian soldiers meet,
There’s no more conflict; foes, as friends, now greet,
And those who wore the blue or wore the gray,
Amid the clearer light of heaven’s day,
Love equally the flag that still holds sway.
In olden times, when Rome her vict’ries won.
And from the battle-field her braves came home,
With son and shout, triumphal arches giving,
She lavished all her honors on the living.
Her slain were dead indeed, and dead forever:
Our Christian slain shall be forgotten—never!
Wave on, loved emblem of our country’s glory!
Sleep on, brave heroes, in your graves so gory!
The sward will keep forever green above you,
A nation’s grateful heart will ever love you,
And once each year, in spring-time’s sunny hours,
We’ll strew your patriot graves with loveliest flowers;
We’ll join our grateful love with heaven’s protection,
‘Till we shall greet you in the resurrection.
[I have done a cursory internet search and I cannot find definitively who wrote this poem. There was a Methodist minister from Maryland during this time period named Robert W. Todd.]