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

Southern States: Vicksburg, Miss.

The Bombardment of Vicksburg

By Paul Hamilton Hayne (1830–1886)

FOR sixty days and upwards

A storm of shell and shot

Rained round us in a flaming shower,

But still we faltered not!

“If the noble city perish,”

Our grand young leader said,

“Let the only walls the foe shall scale

Be ramparts of the dead!”

For sixty days and upwards

The eye of heaven waxed dim;

And even throughout God’s holy morn,

O’er Christian prayer and hymn,

Arose a hissing tumult,

As if the fiends of air

Strove to engulf the voice of faith

In the shrieks of their despair.

There was wailing in the houses,

There was trembling on the marts,

While the tempest raged and thundered,

Mid the silent thrill of hearts:

But the Lord, our shield, was with us;

And ere a month had sped,

Our very women walked the streets

With scarce one throb of dread.

And the little children gambolled,—

Their faces purely raised,

Just for a wondering moment,

As the huge bombs whirled and blazed!

Then turned with silvery laughter

To the sports which children love,

Thrice mailed in the sweet, instinctive thought,

That the good God watched above.

Yet the hailing bolts fell faster

From scores of flame-clad ships,

And above us denser, darker,

Grew the conflict’s wild eclipse;

Till a solid cloud closed o’er us,

Like a type of doom and ire,

Whence shot a thousand quivering tongues

Of forked and vengeful fire.

But the unseen hands of angels

These death-shafts warned aside,

And the dove of heavenly mercy

Ruled o’er the battle-tide;

In the houses ceased the wailing,

And through the war-scarred marts

The people strode with the step of hope

To the music in their hearts.