Skip to main content

The Artilleryman's Vision.

Part of the cluster DRUM-TAPS.


WHILE my wife at my side lies slumbering, and the wars  
 are over long,
And my head on the pillow rests at home, and the va- 
 cant midnight passes,
And through the stillness, through the dark, I hear,  
 just hear, the breath of my infant,
There in the room, as I wake from sleep, this vision  
 presses upon me:
The engagement opens there and then, in fantasy unreal; The skirmishers begin—they crawl cautiously ahead—  
 I hear the irregular snap! snap!
I hear the sounds of the different missiles—the short  
  t-h-t! t-h-t! of the rifle balls;
I see the shells exploding, leaving small white clouds—  
 I hear the great shells shieking as they pass;
The grape, like the hum and whirr of wind through the  
 trees, (quick, tumultuous, now the contest rages!)
All the scenes at the batteries themselves rise in detail  
 before me again;
The crashing and smoking—the pride of the men in  
 their pieces;
The chief gunner ranges and sights his piece, and se- 
 lects a fuse of the right time;
After firing, I see him lean aside, and look eagerly off  
 to note the effect;
—Elsewhere I hear the cry of a regiment charging—  
 (the young colonel leads himself this time, with  
 brandish'd sword;)
I see the gaps cut by the enemy's volleys, (quickly fill'd  
 up, no delay;)
  [ begin page 294 ]ppp.00270.296.jpg I breathe the suffocating smoke—then the flat clouds  
 hover low, concealing all;
Now a strange lull comes for a few seconds, not a shot  
 fired on either side;
Then resumed, the chaos louder than ever, with eager  
 calls, and orders of officers;
While from some distant part of the field the wind wafts  
 to my ears a shout of applause, (some special  
And ever the sound of the cannon, far or near, (rousing,  
 even in dreams, a devilish exultation, and all the  
 old mad joy, in the depths of my soul;)
And ever the hastening of infantry shifting positions—  
 batteries, cavalry, moving hither and thither;
(The falling, dying, I heed not—the wounded, dripping  
 and red, I heed not—some to the rear are hob- 
Grime, heat, rush—aid-de-camps galloping by, or on a  
 full run;
With the patter of small arms, the warning s-s-t of the  
 rifles, (these in my vision I hear or see,)
And bombs bursting in air, and at night the vari- 
 color'd rockets.

Part of the cluster DRUM-TAPS.

Back to top