Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
Sumpter’s Band
By James Wright Simmons (1790–1858)
          The exploits of the hero of South Mount, furnish a fruitful theme for the muse. They not only outnumbered those of Marion (whose valuable services, at that time, we would not be understood as intending to disparage) but far exceeded them in brilliancy. Sumpter was emphatically the Game Cock of South Carolina—he was not to be beaten. His swimming across the Santee, with three hundred and fifty horsemen, and advancing upon the British at Fort Watson, was one of the most gallant and romantic incidents in our revolutionary annals. Had Gates been a Sumpter, the British would have rued the day they set foot on Carolina; and the brave Isaac Hayne, the gentleman, soldier, and patriot, had lived to measure swords with them in another war for independence.

WHEN Carolina’s hope grew pale
  Before the British lion’s tread;
And Freedom’s sigh in every gale
  Was heard above her martyr’d dead;
When from her mountain heights, subdued,        5
  In pride of place forbid to soar,
Her Eagle banner, quench’d in blood,
  Lay sullen on the indignant shore,
Breathing revenge, invoking doom,
  Tyrant! upon thy purple host,        10
When all stood wrapt in steadfast gloom,
  And silence brooded o’er her coast,
Stealthy, as when from thicket dun,
  The Indian springs upon his bow,
Up rose South Mount, thy warrior son,        15
  And headlong darted on the foe.
Not in the pride of war he came,
  With bugle note and banner high,
And nodding plume, and steel of flame,
  Red battle’s gorgeous panoply!        20
With followers few, but undismay’d,
  Each change and chance of fate withstood,
Beneath her sunshine and her shade,
  The same heroic brotherhood!
From secret nook, in other land,        25
  Emerging fleet along the pine,
Prone down he flew before his band,
  Like eagle on the British line!
Catacoba’s waters smiled again,
  To see her Sumpter’s soul in arms;        30
And issuing from each glade and glen,
  Rekindled by war’s fierce alarms,
Throng’d hundreds through the solitude
  Of the wild forest, to the call
Of him whose spirit, unsubdued,        35
  Fresh impulse gave to each, to all.
By day the burning sands they ply,
  Night sees them in the fell ravine;
Familiar to each follower’s eye,
  The tangled brake, the hall of green.        40
Roused by their tread from covert deep,
  Springs the gaunt wolf, and thus while near
Is heard, forbidding thought of sleep,
  The rattling serpent’s sound of fear!
Before or break of early morn,        45
  Or fox looks out from copse to close,
Before the hunter winds his horn,
  Sampler’s already on his foes!
He beat them hack! beneath the flame
  Of valour quailing, or the shock!        50
And carved at last, a hero’s name
  Upon the glorious Hanging Rock!
And time, that shades or sears the wreath,
  Where glory binds the soldier’s brow,
Kept bright her Sumpter’s fame in death,        55
  His hour of proudest triumph, now.
And ne’er shall tyrant tread the shore
  Where Sumpter bled, nor bled in vain;
A thousand hearts shall break, before
  They wear the oppressor’s chains again.        60
O never can thy sons forget
  The mighty lessons taught by thee;
Since—treasured by the eternal debt—
  Their watchword is thy memory!

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.