Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
The Battle of New Orleans
By Thomas Wells
CHILL was the breeze,—nor yet the herald light
Had chased the lingering shadows of the night;
O’er still expanse of lake, and marshy bed,
Gloomy and dense the mantling vapors spread:—
But soon the battle-flash that darkness broke,        5
And soon, that dread repose, the peal awoke
Of loud artillery, and the dire alarms
Of mingling conflict, and the clash of arms.
  Fate gave the word!—and now, by veterans led,
In pride of chivalry, to conquest bred,        10
The foe advanced—entrenched, the champion band
Of Freemen stood, the bulwark of the land;
Fearless their stars unfurl’d, and, as the rock,
Storm-proof, they stood, impervious to the shock:
Their patriot Chief, with patriot ardor fired—        15
Nerved every hand, and every heart inspired;
Himself, in peril’s trying hour, a host,
A nation’s rescue, and a nation’s boast;—
Empower’d alike to govern, or to save,
To guide a people, or their sword to wave.        20
  As near the bastion’d wall th’ Invader drew,
A storm of iron hail to greet him flew;
On havoc’s wing the mission’d vengeance rode,
And whole platoons the scythe of ruin mow’d;
Through paths of blood, o’er undistinguish’d slain,        25
Unyoked, the hungry war-dogs scour’d the plain;
Borne on the blast, the scattering besom kept
Its course, and ranks on ranks promiscuous swept;—
The trophied Lion fell,—while o’er his foes
Unscathed, in arms supreme, the towering Eagle rose.—        30
  Sublime in majesty,—matchless in might—
Columbia stood, unshaken in the fight:
From lips of adamant, ’midst volumed smoke
And cataracts of fire, her thunders spoke
In triumph to the skies; from shore to shore,        35
Old Mississippi shook, and echoed to the roar.
  High on his sceptred perch, our mountain bird,
Amidst the din the shout of Victory heard—
Exulting heard, and from his eyry came
Through rolling war-clouds, and through sheets of flame;        40
Renown’s immortal meed he bore, and spread
His ample pinions o’er the conqueror’s head—
The Hero of the West—to him assign’d
The glorious palm, and round his brows the guerdon twined.

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