Verse > Anthologies > James and Mary Ford, eds. > Every Day in the Year
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James and Mary Ford, eds.  Every Day in the Year.  1902.
 
July 20
Logan at Peach Tree Creek
By Hamlin Garland (1860–1940)
 
        
A Veteran’s Story
  A small stream near Atlanta. Here the Federals under Sherman defeated the Confederates under Hood on July 20, 1864.

YOU know that day at Peach Tree Creek,
When the Rebs with their circling, scorching wall
Of smoke-hid cannon and sweep of flame
Drove in our flanks, back! back! and all
Our toil seemed lost in the storm of shell—        5
That desperate day McPherson fell!
 
Our regiment stood in a little glade
Set round with half-grown red oak trees—
An awful place to stand, in full fair sight,
While the minie bullets hummed like bees,        10
And comrades dropped on either side—
That fearful day McPherson died!
 
The roar of the battle, steady, stern,
Rung in our ears. Upon our eyes
The belching cannon smoke, the half-hid swing        15
Of deploying troops, the groans, the cries,
The hoarse commands, the sickening smell—
That blood-red day McPherson fell!
 
But we stood there!—when out from the trees,
Out of the smoke and dismay to the right        20
Burst a rider—His head was bare, his eye
Had a blaze like a lion fain for fight;
His long hair, black as the deepest night
Streamed out on the wind. And the might
Of his plunging horse was a tale to tell,        25
And his voice rang high like a bugle’s swell;
“Men, the enemy hem us on every side;
We’ll whip ’em yet! Close up that breach—
Remember your flag—don’t give an inch!
The right flank’s gaining and soon will reach—        30
Forward boys, and give ’em hell!”—
Said Logan after McPherson fell.
We laughed and cheered and the red ground shook,
As the general plunged along the line
Through the deadliest rain of screaming shells;        35
For the sound of his voice refreshed us all,
And we filled the gap like a roaring tide,
And saved the day McPherson died!
 
But that was twenty years ago,
And part of a horrible dream now past.        40
For Logan, the lion, the drums throb low
And the flag swings low on the mast;
He has followed his mighty chieftain through
The mist-hung stream, where gray and blue
One color stand,        45
And North to South extends the hand.
It’s right that deeds of war and blood
Should be forgot, but, spite of all,
I think of Logan, now, as he rode
That day across the field; I hear the call        50
Of his trumpet voice—see the battle shine
In his stern, black eyes, and down the line
Of cheering men I see him ride,
As on the day McPherson died.
 
 
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