James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

August 5


By Richard Watson Gilder (1844–1909)

  • General Philip Sheridan died August 5, 1888.

  • QUIETLY, like a child

    That sinks in slumber mild,

    No pain or troubled thought his well-earned peace to mar,

    Sank into endless rest our thunderbolt of war.

    Though his power to smite

    Quick as the lightning’s light,—

    His single arm an army, and his name a host,—

    Not his the love of blood, the warrior’s cruel boast.

    But in the battle’s flame

    How glorious he came!—

    Even like a white-combed wave that breaks and tears the shore,

    While wreck lies strewn behind, and terror flies before.

    ’Twas he,—his voice, his might,—

    Could stay the panic-flight,

    Alone shame back the headlong, many-leagued retreat,

    And turn to evening triumph morning’s foul defeat.

    He was our modern Mars;

    Yet firm his faith that wars

    Ere long would cease to vex the sad, ensanguined earth,

    And peace forever reign, as at Christ’s holy birth.

    Blest land, in whose dark hour

    Arise to loftiest power

    No dazzlers of the sword to play the tyrant’s part,

    But patriot-soldiers, true and pure and high of heart!

    Of such our chief of all;

    And he who broke the wall

    Of civil strife in twain, no more to build or mend;

    And he who hath this day made Death his faithful friend.

    And now above his tomb

    From out the eternal gloom

    “Welcome!” his chieftain’s voice sounds o’er the cannon’s knell;

    And of the three one only stays to say “Farewell!”