Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
 
558. A Georgia Volunteer
 
By Mary Ashley Townsend
 
 
FAR up the lonely mountain-side
  My wandering footsteps led;
The moss lay thick beneath my feet,
  The pine sighed overhead.
The trace of a dismantled fort        5
  Lay in the forest nave,
And in the shadow near my path
  I saw a soldier’s grave.
 
The bramble wrestled with the weed
  Upon the lowly mound;—        10
The simple head-board, rudely writ,
  Had rotted to the ground;
I raised it with a reverent hand,
  From dust its words to clear,
But time had blotted all but these—        15
  “A Georgia Volunteer!”
 
I saw the toad and scaly snake
  From tangled covert start,
And hide themselves among the weeds
  Above the dead man’s heart;        20
But undisturbed, in sleep profound,
  Unheeding, there he lay;
His coffin but the mountain soil,
  His shroud Confederate gray.
 
I heard the Shenandoah roll        25
  Along the vale below,
I saw the Alleghanies rise
  Towards the realms of snow.
The “Valley Campaign” rose to mind—
  Its leader’s name—and then        30
I knew the sleeper had been one
  Of Stonewall Jackson’s men.
 
Yet whence he came, what lip shall say—
  Whose tongue will ever tell
What desolated hearths and hearts        35
  Have been because he fell?
What sad-eyed maiden braids her hair,
  Her hair which he held dear?
One lock of which perchance lies with
  The Georgia Volunteer!        40
 
What mother, with long watching eyes,
  And white lips cold and dumb,
Waits with appalling patience for
  Her darling boy to come?
Her boy! whose mountain grave swells up        45
  But one of many a scar,
Cut on the face of our fair land,
  By gory-handed war.
 
What fights he fought, what wounds he wore,
  Are all unknown to fame;        50
Remember, on his lonely grave
  There is not e’en a name!
That he fought well and bravely too,
  And held his country dear,
We know, else he had never been        55
  A Georgia Volunteer.
 
He sleeps—what need to question now
  If he were wrong or right?
He knows, ere this, whose cause was just
  In God the Father’s sight.        60
He wields no warlike weapons now,
  Returns no foeman’s thrust—
Who but a coward would revile
  An honest soldier’s dust?
 
Roll, Shenandoah, proudly roll,        65
  Adown thy rocky glen,
Above thee lies the grave of one
  Of Stonewall Jackson’s men.
Beneath the cedar and the pine,
  In solitude austere,        70
Unknown, unnamed, forgotten, lies
  A Georgia Volunteer.
 

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