Home  »  A Library of American Literature  »  The Thousand and Thirty-Seven

Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Thousand and Thirty-Seven

By Charles Graham Halpine (1829–1868)

[Born in Oldcastle, County Meath, Ireland, 1829. Died in New York, N. Y., 1868. Baked Meats of the Funeral. By Private Miles O’Reilly. 1866.]

THREE years ago, to-day,

We raised our hands to Heaven,

And, on the rolls of muster,

Our names were thirty-seven;

There were just a thousand bayonets,

And the swords were thirty-seven,

As we took the oath of service

With our right hands raised to Heaven.

Oh, ’twas a gallant day,

In memory still adored,

That day of our sun-bright nuptials

With the musket and the sword!

Shrill rang the fifes, the bugles blared,

And beneath a cloudless heaven

Far flashed a thousand bayonets,

And the swords were thirty-seven.

Of the thousand stalwart bayonets

Two hundred march to-day;

Hundreds lie in Virginia swamps,

And hundreds in Maryland clay;

While other hundreds—less happy—drag

Their mangled limbs around,

And envy the deep, calm, blessed sleep

Of the battle-field’s holy ground.

For the swords—one night a week ago,

The remnant, just eleven—

Gathered around a banqueting-board

With seats for thirty-seven.

There were two came in on crutches,

And two had each but a hand,

To pour the wine and raise the cup

As we toasted “Our Flag and Land!”

And the room seemed filled with whispers

As we looked at the vacant seats,

And with choking throats we pushed aside

The rich but untasted meats;

Then in silence we brimmed our glasses

As we stood up—just eleven—

And bowed as we drank to the Loved and the Dead

Who had made us Thirty-seven!

20 April, 1864.