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THE BALLAD OF THE SIXTY-NINTH

 

Clouds black with thunder o'er the southern states;

   North, East and West a sickening fear;

The Union on the dark laps of the Fates,

   And nowhere signs the skies would clear. 

would hate haul down the flag we loved so well

   The star-flag that at Yorktown flew?

For answer came the hurtling of a shell,

   With the Union cleft in two!

 

Never since out of chaos the world

   Sang with such resolve as took us then:

"Thro' blood and fire, with that brave flag unfurled

   The Union shall be whole again."

At Lincoln's call men swarmed from towns and farms:

   An ecstasy shook all the land.

Tramp1 tramp! the people's bravest rose in arms

   With them the Irish took their stand.

 

For here their slave rags had away been cast.

   Freedom had met them at the door.

To share such empire lovelit, rich and vast

   As never fronted men before.

Our great Republic! Shall the kings behold.

   Neath slavery's thrust, its overthrow?

Loud, righteous, quick our regiment's answered rolled

   The Irish Sixty-ninth says, "No!"

 

Tramp! Tramp! At Corcoran's command they've swung

   Down Broadway's length a thousand strong.

Their green flag by grand Old glory flung.

   Their steps like music to the cheering throng.

The great Archbishop, blessing rank and file,

   Bends o'er them- soldier, gun and blade.

On every face the bold-heart Irish smile

   That looks in Death's eyes unafraid.

 

Mother of Irish regiments, march in pride;

   No idle presage in your tread!

The way is long; the battle ground is wide;

   High will be the roster of your dead.

Ever you'll find the battle's crest and front,

   Then march to seek new fighting ground:

Ever, when shattered in the battle brunt.

   Men for the gaps will still be found.

 

You'll be baptized in fire at Blackburn's Ford.

   Bull Run shall see two hundred fall-

You facing south when north the rout has poured:

   At Rappahannock like a wall:

You'll strike at Fair Oaks; clash at Gaines's Mill.

   and ramp like tigers over Malvern Hill:

Stand and be hammered at Chancellorsville:

   Antietam's corn shall redden at your name.

The while you deal the blow that stuns;

   At Marye's Heights your men shall feed on flame.

Up to the muzzles of the guns;

   At Gettysburg fire-dwindled on you'll press.

and then remanned again seek fight;

   All through the tangle of the wilderness.

You'll battle day and night:

   At Petersburg you'll spring to the assault:

Only at Appomattox shall you halt!

 

Let Nugent, Meagher, Cavanagh be praised.

   MacMahon, Kelly, Haggerty, Clark.

But the thousands three the regiment raised.

   As surely bore the hero-mark.

Fame's darling child, the sixty-ninth shall shine

   Never in duty's hour to lag;

Forty-eight times in battle line.

   Never, never to lose a flag.

 

   Tramp! Tramp! you saw the Union split in twain

   Tramp! Tramp! you saw the nation whole.

Your ed blood flowed in torrents not in vain:

   It fed the great Republic's soul.

Your drums still roll: your serried ranks still form:

   From manhood's service no release:

Ready at call to ride the battle-storm,

   And, in God's time, the Guard of Peace

 

Joseph I. C. Clarke

 

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