A GEORGIA VOLUNTEER by Mary Ashley Townsend (1832-1901)Far up the lonely mountain-side My wandering footsteps led; The moss lay thick beneath my feet, The pine sighed overhead. The trace of a dismantled fort Lay in the forest nave, And in the shadow near my path I saw a soldier's grave. The bramble wrestled with the weed Upon the lowly mound;-- The simple head-board, rudely writ, Had rotted to the ground; I raised it with a reverent hand, From dust its words to clear, But time had blotted all but these-- "A Georgia Volunteer!" I saw the toad and scaly snake From tangled covert start, And hide themselves among the weeds Above the dead man's heart; But undisturbed, in sleep profound, Unheeding, there he lay; His coffin but the mountain soil, His shroud Confederate gray. I heard the Shenandoah roll Along the vale below, I saw the Alleghanies rise Toward the realms of snow. The "Valley Campaign" rose to mind-- Its leader's name--and then I knew the sleeper had been one Of Stonewall Jackson's men. Yet whence he came, what lip shall say-- Whose tongue will ever tell What desolated hearths and hearts Have been because he fell? What sad-eyed maiden braids her hair, Her hair which he held dear? One lock of which perchance lies with The Georgia Volunteer! What mother, with long watching eyes, And white lips, cold and dumb, Waits with appalling patience for Her darling boy to come? Her boy! whose mountain grave swells up But one of many a scar, Cut on the face of our fair land, By gory-handed war. What fights he fought, what wounds he wore, Are all unknown to fame; Remember, on his holy grave There is not e'en a name! That he fought well and bravely too, And held his country dear, We know, else he had never been A Georgia volunteer. He sleeps--what need to question now If he were wrong or right? He knows, ere this, whose cause was just In God the Father's sight. He wields no warlike weapons now, Returns no foeman's thrust-- Who but a coward would revile An honest soldier's dust? Roll, Shenandoah, proudly roll, Adown thy rocky glen, Above thee lies the grave of one Of Stonewall Jackson's men. Beneath the cedar and the pine, In solitude austere. Unknown, unnamed, forgotten, lies A Georgia Volunteer!
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Last modified 18-April-2001