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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

Southern States: Chickamauga, the River, Tenn.

Chickamauga River

By Hezekiah Butterworth (1839–1905)

AGAIN the wandering breezes bring

The music of the sheaves;

Again the crickets chirp and sing

Among the golden leaves.

Twelve times the springs have oped the rills,

Twelve amber autumns sighed,

Since hung the war-cloud o’er the hills,

The year that Charlie died.

The springs return; the roses blow,

And croon the bird and bee,

And flutes the ring-dove’s love-call low,

Along the Tennessee;

But one dear voice, one cherished tone,

Returns to me—ah, never!

For Charlie fills a grave unknown,

By Chickamauga River.

Kind Nature sets her blossoms there,

And fall the vernal rains;

But we may lay no garlands fair

Above his loved remains.

A white stone marks an empty grave

Our household graves beside,

And his dear name to it we gave

The year that Charlie died.

The winds of fall were breathing low,

The swallow left the eaves;

We heard the hollow bugles blow,

When fell the harvest sheaves.

And swift the mustering squadrons passed,

We thought of Charlie ever,—

And swift the blue brigades were massed

By Chickamauga River.

Along the mountain spurs we saw

The wreaths of smoke ascend;

And, all the Sabbath day, in awe,

We watched the war cloud blend

With fall’s cerulean sky, and dim

The wooded mountain side,—

Oh, how our hearts then beat for him,

The year that Charlie died!

How Thomas thundered past when broke

The wavering echelon!

How down the sky in flame and smoke

Low sunk the copper sun;

The still night came, and who were saved

And who were called to sever,

We could not tell; our banner waved

By Chickamauga River.

And some returned with happy feet,

But never at our door

The fair-haired boy we used to meet

Came back to greet us more.

But memory seems to hear the fall

Of steps at eventide,

And all the changing years recall

The year that Charlie died.

Yet such a gift of God as he

’T is blessed to have cherished;

And they shall ever stainless be

Who ’ve nobly fought and perished.

He nobly died, and he can know

No dark dishonor ever,

But green the grass for him shall grow

By Chickamauga River.

Again I see the mountains blaze

In autumn’s amber light;

Again I see in shimmering haze

The valleys long and bright.

Old Lookout Mountain towers afar

As when, in lordly pride,

It plumed its head with flags of war

The year that Charlie died.

On wooded Mission Ridge increase

The fruited fields of fall,

And Chattanooga sleeps in peace

Beneath her mountain wall.

O Country, free from sea to sea,

With union blest forever,

Not vainly heroes died for thee

By Chickamauga River!