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The Soldiers' journal. (Rendevous of Distribution, Va.) 1864-1865, June 29, 1864, Image 1

Image and text provided by Library of Virginia; Richmond, VA

Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn89038091/1864-06-29/ed-1/seq-1/

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Softly and stilly the river ran,
The full, low-singing Ripidan;
Ths sunshine streamed like a golden tress
Through tlie jungle-growth of tlie Wilderness;
While the birds sang loud with a warble clear.
As tho' no death-strewn held were near.
But out where the longest shadows fell
They should have sounded a mournlul knell,
For strewn about by their silent guns
Lay fathers dear, and motl ers's sons-
Lay rebel caps, all dashed aside,
And death-struck eyes, still opened wide,
With many a gaping seam and cut
Through heart and coat of butternut,
Whence souls that we called rebel went
Back to their God.
Their brows were bent
As battling yet with the fierce brigade
Who hot and mad their fire essayed ;
Perchance a corps from the Border Land
Enchained their gaze as they bid them stand,
And yield to pale triumphant Death,
Heart-beat and vision, voice and breath,—
A full surrender. White and* old
They lav all night, while the river rolled
Still softly Sighing. So they rest
From the battle lought in the Wilderness.
But ere the next day's fight Is through
There moves a form in loyal blue.
The only thing on the field astir.
Save the bees afield and the birds a whir—
A soldier lad from his grassy bed,
Dream-startled wakes. His boyish head
On his arm is poised, as he looks around
Where tlie silent rebels strew the ground.
Then slow at first, but flashing fast
Conies all the knowledge of the past:
The fierce advance—the conflict hot—
The staunch repulse—the fatal shot;
Till downward glancing at his shoe
He sees the red blood trickling through,
And wonders—if that drain shall last,
If death will come—how soon—how fast:
If mother dear will ever know
Where he will He when violets grow.
Violets! who said violets sweet:
Lot here they spring by the soldier's feet-
Fair violets—clustering, big and blue,
Violets, such as there grew at home,
Mid the pale anemones' snowy foam,
By the edge of the wood-lot, dark and cold,
Where *he lingering lads came home from school.
Ah, many a time from a wild wood raid
Has the truant peace at the cottage made
With the blossoms. Well the raider knew
How mother loved ev'ry blossom blue;
80 many a handful, faint and hot,
The boy repentant homeward brought.
The wounded soldier turned and smiled,
And dreamed he was once more a child,
As reaching out and rolling over
He crushed the white, sweet springing clover
And gathered in a fragrant store
For mother's sake, and times long o'er;
And so they found him asleep,
Too faint to walk, too weak to creep,
When through the field by welcome chance
Came friendly guard and ambulance.
* * * * „, * »
A mother's breast his pillow made,
Unconsciously his light locks laid,
Till softly opening eyes so blue,
• The lad looked up—" Dear, is it you !
I brought you vl'lets, pale and sweet,
They nodded tome from my feet.
Ah, well I knew you could not chide
Your wayward boy when these were dyed
With crimson spots. Dear mother, bless
Your wanderer from the Wilderness."
And so she blessed him. Still he lay
Till golden skies brought fading day,
And through tne ward the rumor went,
That Number Ten was almost spent;
His prayers all said, his farewell done,
But few tlie sands yet left to run.
Hush ! hush !he speaks—" March every man,
To-night we crossed the Rapidan."
And tlien no word—the lad had gone
Over the river, all alone.
By silent mourner homeward borne,
Went violets from battle shorn,
That in the poor boy-: empty room
For tears gave back a faint perfume,
And many a yearning mute caress
Knew the violet blooms of the Wilderness.
Pkettanrauis! gaclina.
While all our minds are so intent upon the
fierce Virginia fights, and of speculation upon
their probable consequences, it will bo useful to
remember the facts of other great historic bat
The details of the old Greek and Persian and
Roman contests are of course more or less fan
ciful, but they doubtless indicate the relative
forces. At Marathon the Athenians are said to
have had 10,000, the Persians 110,000. The Athen
ians lost 193; the Persians 6400, and were defeat
ed. Then came Xerses with his fabulous army,
which is given in detail, horse and foot, fleet army
and followers, at 2,500,000. Against this invasion
7000 Greeks held the Pass of Thermopylae, and
upon the marble lion of Leonidas was this in
scription : "Here 4000 Pelopenesians fought with
3,000,000 of foes." Herodotus, who loves a gen
erous measure, says there were 5,000,000. At
Arbela the tradition makes Alexander the Groat,
with 47,000 horse and foot, defeat 1,040,000 Per
sians. At Cannpe, Hannibal had 50,000, and of
the 80,000 Romans destroyed 50,000, so that only
fragments of the Roman torce escaped. At Phar
salia, Julius Caesar with 22,000, routed Pompey
with 50,000.
In later times Gustaus Wasa at Lutzen, with
13,400 foot and horse, defeated Wallestein with
15,000. At Blenheim, one of the pivotal batt'es
in European history, the final check to Ecuis the
Fourteenth's ambition, tho French and Bavari
ans under Tallard were 60,000, with 61 guns; the
allies under Marlborough and Prince Eugene
were 56,000 with 52 guns. The battle wavered at
intervals during the day, but at last, with a loss
of 5000 killed and 8000 wounded, Marlborough
almost destroyed tho French army, which lost
12,000 killed, 14,000 prisoners, all its guns, with
its General and 1200 officers. Not more than
20,000 of its effective men ever re-assembled. —
At Pultowa, Charles tho Twelfth, with 24,000
men, fought nearly 60,000 Russians. Charles
was defeated, and lost nearly half of his army.
The Napoleon campaigns are the story of the
most sanguinary battles. Yet in Egypt, at the
famous battle of the Pyramids, at the begin nig
of his career, Napoleon, with 10,000 French un
der Kleber,routod 80,000 Egyptians and destroyed
the Mamelukes; and the French loss, according
to Paton, the latest authority, after over nineteen
hours of severe exertion, was no more than 10
killed and 30 wounded. At Marengo, Napoleon,
with 28,000, defeated 31,000 Austrians, killing
7000 and capturing 4000, with artillery and stand
ards, and losing about 7000. At Austerlitz, the
Allies were 75,000 strong, Napoleon 80,000. The
Allies were overwhelmed, losing 10,000 killed,
20,000 prisoners, 185 guns, 400 caissons, and 45
standards. At Wagram, Napoleon had a mag
nificent army of 1 JO,OOO foot, 30,000 cavalry, and
750 guns. The Allies brought into action more
than 140,000. The battle was indecisive. The
loss on each side was about 25,000, and tho French
captured a few guns. At Borodiro, the French
counted 125,000, the Russians 130,000. The latter
lost 52,000, the former 30,000. In the whole Rus
sian campaign, of an army which is roundly
reckoned at 500,000, Napoleon lost 125,000 killed,
193,000 captured, and 132,000 dead of hunger, dis
ease and exposure. Yet the next year he crossed
the Rhine again with an army of three hundred
and iifty thousand. At Leipsic, with one hun
dred and scventy-fivo thousand men, and 750
guns, he was defeated by the Allies with nearly
three hundred thousand men and more than 1800
guns. The battle raged for three days, and wae
one of the most fiercely contested ever known.
Tho French lost more than sixty thousand, the
\llies more than forty thousand. The tough old
tory Allison says that it was this battle which
"delivered Europe from French bondage." But
Napoleon made one more and final effort. He
began the four days's campaign of Waterloo
with one hundred and eighty thousand men.—
Upon the actual field the best authorities give
the English 40,608 foot, 12,402 horse, 5645 artillery,
with 156 guns; in all, 67,655, of which about
twenty-four thousand were British. The French
had 48,950 foot, 15,765 horse, 7232 artillery, with
246 guns; in all 71,947. The tattle lasted for
eight hours. The British loss was fifteen thou
sand killed and wounded. The French army
was virtually dMI royed,and Napoleon Bonaparte
with it.
The battles of our Revolution were hardly
more than skirmishes. On Long Island the
Americans had about 5000 men, of which they
lost 2000. Tho British had 15,000 men, with 40
guns. Their loss was about 400. At Trenton,
we had about 2400 engaged with 1500 Hessiane.
They lost 36 and wo 4. At Mammoth, the force*

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