Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1765–1787
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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vol. III: Literature of the Revolutionary Period, 1765–1787
 
Bunker’s Hill
By Hugh Henry Brackenridge (1748–1816)
 
[Born near Campbelton, Scotland, 1748. Died at Carlisle, Penn., 1816. The Battle of Bunker’s Hill. A Dramatic Piece in Five Acts. 1776.]

YOU bold warriors, who resemble
  Flames upon the distant hill;
At whose view the heroes tremble,
  Fighting with unequal skill.
Loud-sounding drums, now with hoarse murmurs,        5
  Rouse the spirit up to war;
Fear not, fear not, though their numbers
  Much to ours superior are.
Hear brave Warren, bold commanding:
  “Gallant souls and veterans brave,        10
See the enemy just landing
  From the navy-covered wave.
Close the wings—advance the centre—
  Engineers point well your guns—
Clap the matches—let the rent air        15
  Bellow to Britannia’s sons.”
 
Now, think you see three thousand moving,
  Up the brow of Bunker’s hill;
Many a gallant veteran shoving
  Cowards on, against their will.        20
The curling volumes all behind them,
  Dusky clouds of smoke arise;
Our cannon-balls, brave boys, shall find them,
  At each shot a hero dies.
Once more, Warren, ’midst this terror,        25
  “Charge, brave soldiers, charge again!
Many an expert veteran warrior
  Of the enemy is slain.
Level well your charged pieces,
  In direction to the town;        30
They shake, they shake, their lightning ceases;
  That shot brought six standards down.”
 
Maids in virgin beauty blooming,
  On Britannia’s sea-girt isle,
Say no more your swains are coming,        35
  Or with songs the day beguile,
For sleeping found in death’s embraces,
  On their clay-cold beds they lie;
Death, grim death, alas, defaces
  Youth and pleasure, which must die.        40
“March the right wing, Gardiner, yonder;
  The hero spirit lives in thunder;
Take the assailing foe in flank,
  Close there, sergeants, close that rank.
The conflict now doth loudly call on        45
  Highest proof of martial skill;
Heroes shall sing of them, who fall on
  The slippery brow of Bunker’s Hill.”
 
Unkindest fortune, still thou changest,
  As the wind upon the wave;        50
The good and bad alike thou rangest,
  Undistinguished in the grave.
Shall kingly tyrants see thee smiling,
  Whilst the brave and just must die;
Them of sweet hope and life beguiling        55
  In the arms of victory?
“Behave this day, my lads, with spirit,
  Wrap the hill-top as in flame;
Oh! if we fall, let each one merit
  Immortality in fame.        60
From this high ground, like Vesuvius,
  Pour the floods of fire along;
Let not, let not numbers move us,
  We are yet five hundred strong.”
 
Many a widow, sore bewailing        65
  Tender husbands, shall remain,
With tears and sorrows unavailing,
  From this hour to mourn them slain.
The rude scene, striking all by-standers,
  Bids the little band retire;        70
Who can live like salamanders,
  In such floods of liquid fire?
“Ah, our troops are sorely pressed—
  Howe ascends the smoky hill;
Wheel inward, let these ranks be faced,        75
  We have yet some blood to spill.
Our right wing pushed, our left surrounded,
  Weight of numbers five to one;
Warren dead, and Gardiner wounded—
  Ammunition is quite gone.”        80
 
See the steely points, bright gleaming
  In the sun’s fierce dazzling ray;
Groans arising, life-blood streaming
  Purple o’er the face of day.
The field is covered with the dying,        85
  Freemen mixed with tyrants lie,
The living with each other vying
  Raise the shout of battle high.
Now brave Putnam, aged soldier:
  “Come, my veterans, we must yield;        90
More equal matched, we’ll yet charge bolder,
  For the present quit the field.
The God of battles shall revisit
  On their heads each soul that dies;
Take courage, boys, we yet sha’n’t miss it,        95
  From a thousand victories.”
 
 
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