Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
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William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
 
A Souvenir of Fort Mimms
By Charles L. S. Jones
 
O, DIM waned the moon, through the flitting clouds of night,
  With a dubious and shadowy gleaming,
Where the ramparts of Mimms rose stilly on the sight,
  And the star-spangled banner was streaming.
 
No whispery breeze, with a guardian care impregn’d,        5
  Came, fraught with its tidings of sorrow;
Nor foreboding vision upheld the veil that screen’d
  From their eyes the dread dawn of the morrow.
 
All careless, unarm’d, and with wassail rout oppress’d,
  Its tenants, their revelries keeping,        10
Deem’d the red savage foemen distant far, at rest,
  In their wilds, round their watch-fires, were sleeping.
 
And while, on the wings of the midnight stillness borne,
  No sound broke the hour’s riot madness;
Their songs, soft, return’d from the forest’s sombre gloom,        15
  Which moved Echo repeated in sadness.
 
And now o’er their sport-lengthen’d slumbers, fair the morn
  Rose, clad in its dew-tinted brightness;
And its silvery rays on the leafy boughs the dawn
  Threw aslant, with its quivery lightness.        20
 
Yet still, in deep silence, the moss-clad forests lay,
  And scarcely the wind’s circulation
Moves gently, as, rising, the wooing breezes play
  Through their branches, in soft undulation.
 
And far still that wild horde of savage birth they deem’d,        25
  And far every fearful intrusion;
Till the war-hatchet swift o’er their fated fortress gleam’d,
  Midst despair, havoc, death, and confusion:
 
And, sudden, the loud sounding war-whoop, on the ear
  With the rifle’s dread dissonance blending,        30
Mark’d destruction’s fell agents, of scowling aspect, near,
  And their fate on the contest depending.
 
Depending, not long; for the open gateway gave
  (Though despair fill’d its access, and breasted
The shock of the foeman, that, like a mountain wave,        35
  Pour’d its force where Hope lingering rested)
 
An entrance: since vain against numbers is the power
  Or the effort that fain would oppose them;
For the death-angel gloom’d o’er the struggle of the hour,
  Leaving naught but the slain there to close them.        40
 
O, direful the scene of despairing and dismay!
  O, direful the groans of the shrinking;
Where the red, forky flames o’er that captive fortress play,
  Where, in horror, those victims are sinking!
 
And ruthless, O, ruthless, the carnage of the strife,        45
  Where the mother shrieks loud, as she presses
Her babe, and defends, from the bayonet and the knife,
  Its form, in her dying caresses!
 
And, long shall remembrance, O Mimms, upon thee dwell,
  Thou ill-starr’d memento of horror:        50
And the tear-gush of pity the anguish’d eye shall swell
  O’er this end of thy wo and thy sorrow!
 
 
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