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Augustin S. Macdonald, comp. A Collection of Verse by California Poets. 1914.

By Frank H. Gassaway

“The Pride of Battery B”

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,

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

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

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.

“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,

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,

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

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.

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,

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

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

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

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

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.

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

In the lines of Battery “B!”