Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VIII. National Spirit
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VIII. National Spirit.  1904.
III. War
Sherman’s March to the Sea
Samuel H. M. Byers (1838–1933)
[May 4 to December 21, 1864] 1

OUR camp-fires shone bright on the mountains
  That frowned on the river below,
While we stood by our guns in the morning
  And eagerly watched for the foe,
When a rider came out of the darkness        5
  That hung over the mountain and tree,
And shouted, “Boys, up and be ready!
  For Sherman will march to the sea.”
Then cheer upon cheer for bold Sherman
  Went up from each valley and glen,        10
And the bugles re-echoed the music
  That came from the lips of the men;
For we knew that the stars in our banner
  More bright in their splendor would be,
And that blessings from Northland would greet us        15
  When Sherman marched down to the sea.
Then forward, boys, forward to battle,
  We marched on our wearisome way,
We stormed the wild hills of Resaca;
  God bless those who fell on that day!        20
Then Kenesaw, dark in its glory,
  Frowned down on the flag of the free,
But the East and the West bore our standards,
  And Sherman marched on to the sea.
Still onward we pressed, till our banners        25
  Swept out from Atlanta’s grim walls,
And the blood of the patriot dampened
  The soil where the traitor flag falls;
Yet we paused not to weep for the fallen,
  Who slept by each river and tree;        30
We twined them a wreath of the laurel
  As Sherman marched down to the sea.
Oh! proud was our army that morning,
  That stood where the pine darkly towers,
When Sherman said: “Boys, you are weary;        35
  This day fair Savannah is ours!”
Then sang we a song for our chieftain,
  That echoed o’er river and lea,
And the stars in our banner shone brighter
  When Sherman marched down to the sea.        40
Note 1. This song was sung by thousands of Sherman’s soldiers after the march, and had the honor of giving its name to the campaign it celebrates. Its author had been one of Sherman’s army, and was captured at the battle of Chattanooga. While a prisoner he escaped, disguised himself in a Confederate uniform, went to the Southern army, and witnessed some of the fierce fighting about Atlanta. He was discovered and sent back to prison at Columbia, S. C., where he wrote the song. He soon escaped again, rejoined Sherman’s army, and for a time served on General Sherman’s staff. From Cape Fear River he was sent North with despatches to Grant and President Lincoln, bringing the first news of Sherman’s successes in the Carolinas. [back]

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