Verse > Anthologies > Augustin S. Macdonald, comp. > A Collection of Verse by California Poets
Augustin S. Macdonald, comp.  A Collection of Verse by California Poets.  1914.
“The Pride of Battery B”
By Frank H. Gassaway
SOUTH MOUNTAIN towered on our right,
  Far off the river lay,
And over on the wooded height
  We held their lines at bay.
At last the mutt’ring guns were stilled,        5
  The day died slow and wan.
At last the gunners’ pipes were filled,
  The Sergeant’s yarns began.
When,—as the wind a moment blew
  Aside the fragrant flood        10
Our brierwoods raised,—within our view
  A little maiden stood.
A tiny tot of six or seven,
  From fireside fresh she seemed.
Of such a little one in heaven        15
  I know one soldier dreamed.
And, as we stared, her little hand
  Went to her curly head
In grave salute. “And who are you?”
  At length the Sergeant said.        20
“And where’s your home?” he growled again.
  She lisped out, “Who is me?
Why, don’t you know? I’m little Jane,
  The Pride of Battery ‘B.’
My home? why, that was burned away,        25
  And pa and ma are dead,
And so I ride the guns all day
  Along with Sergeant Ned,
And I’ve a drum that’s not a toy,
  A cap with feathers, too,        30
And I march beside the drummer boy
  On Sundays at review;
But now our bacca’s all give out,
  The men can’t have their smoke,
And so they’re cross—why, even Ned        35
  Won’t play with me and joke.
And the big Colonel said to-day—
  I hate to hear him swear—
He’d give a leg for a good smoke
  Like the Yanks had over there.        40
And so I thought when beat the drum,
  And the big guns were still,
I’d creep beneath the tent and come
  Out here across the hill,
And beg, good Mister Yankee men,        45
  You’d give me some Lone Jack,
Please do—when we get some again
  I’ll surely bring it back.
Indeed I will, for Ned—says he—
  If I do what I say        50
I’ll be a General yet, may be,
  And ride a prancing bay.”
We brimmed her tiny apron o’er,
  You should have heard her laugh
As each man from his scanty store        55
  Shook out a gen’rous half.
We gave her escort, till good-night
  The little waif we bid,
Then watched her toddle out of sight;
  Or else ’twas tears that hid        60
Her baby form, nor turned about
  A man, nor spoke a word
Till after while a far, faint shout
  Upon the wind we heard!
We sent it back—then cast sad eye        65
  Upon the scene around.
A baby’s hand had touched the tie
  That brothers once had bound.
That’s all—save when the dawn awoke
  Again the work of hell.        70
And through the sullen clouds of smoke
  The screaming missiles fell;
Our General often rubbed his glass,
  And marveled much to see
Not a single shell that whole day fell        75
  In the lines of Battery “B!”

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