Nonfiction > Walt Whitman > Prose Works > I. Specimen Days > 82. A Yankee Antique
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Walt Whitman (1819–1892).  Prose Works. 1892.
  
I. Specimen Days
82. A Yankee Antique
  
March 27, 1865.—SERGEANT CALVIN F. HARLOWE, company C, 29th Massachusetts, 3d brigade, 1st division, Ninth corps—a mark’d sample of heroism and death, (some may say bravado, but I say heroism, of grandest, oldest order)—in the late attack by the rebel troops, and temporary capture by them, of fort Steadman, at night. The fort was surprised at dead of night. Suddenly awaken’d from their sleep, and rushing from their tents, Harlowe, with others, found himself in the hands of the secesh—they demanded his surrender—he answer’d, Never while I live. (Of course it was useless. The others surrender’d; the odds were too great.) Again he was ask’d to yield, this time by a rebel captain, Though surrounded, and quite calm, he again refused, call’d sternly to his comrades to fight on, and himself attempted to do so. The rebel captain then shot him—but at the same instant he shot the captain. Both fell together mortally wounded. Harlowe did almost instantly. The rebels were driven out in a very short time. The body was buried next day, but soon taken up and sent home, (Plymouth county, Mass.) Harlowe was only 22 years of age—was a tall, slim, dark-hair’d, blue-eyed young man—had come out originally with the 29th; and that is the way he met his death, after four years’ campaign. He was in the Seven Days fight before Richmond, in second Bull Run, Antietam, first Fredericksburgh, Vicksburgh, Jackson. Wilderness, and the campaigns following—was as good a soldier as ever wore the blue, and every old officer in the regiment will bear that testimony. Though so young, and in a common rank, he had a spirit as resolute and brave as any hero in the books, ancient or modern—It was too great to say the words “I surrender”—and so he died. (When I think of such things, knowing them well, all the vast and complicated events of the war, on which history dwells and makes its volumes, fall aside, and for the moment at any rate I see nothing but young Calvin Harlowe’s figure in the night, disdaining to surrender.)   1

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