Out Of The Jungle

By Lyman Whitney Allen

Fort D ONELSON’S and Vicksburg’s conqueror
Had met at last the master-strategist,
And felt, though with three times the larger host,
The nature of the Army of Virginia,
Which was Lee’s own high nature multiplied,
Transfused into his ranks of fighting men —
Their spirits’ bread, his generous sympathy;
Their bodies’ raiment, boundless faith in him;
So fought they as he ordered, blindly leal;
So fell they reckless round him for his sake;
To fight the fight for him was worth the pain;
To win the day for him was worth the throes;
He was their Country and their Stars and Bars;
He was their Cause and their transcendent trust;
And this he knew, for he had shaped them thus
By love’s pervasiveness and culturing;
And this they knew, for ‘neath his sternness hid
The spirit of a tender fatherliness,
That bore them oft in prayer to Christ’s great Heart,
Oft courted sacrifice for their increase,
And shared their fortunes, though it meant the cross.

Not strange was it they held the jungle waste —
Called ” No Man’s Land ” in earlier history, —
That pair of days against the Union arms.
And well Grant knew that should another day
Add the same measure of assault and loss,
His lines must fall back to the Rapidan,
And follow on the trail of former chiefs —
Dipped flags, bowed faces, and confessed defeat.
So was it on the third day’s afternoon
He moved his columns southward from the woods
Towards Spotsylvania — his goal erstwhile —
Counting the struggle in the Wilderness
Merely the hindering of his strategy
To swing his forces between Lee and Richmond
To meet the Southern Army openly,
And to complete submission ” hammer it. ” —
For never ” On to Richmond! ” was Grant’s word,
But always the stern charge, ” Destroy Lee’s Army! “
He reckoned well that with those legions crushed,
In one swift moment the Confederacy
Would crumble to inconsequential dust.

This Poem Features In: