The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVI. Early National Literature, Part II; Later National Literature, Part I.

II. Poets of the Civil War I

§ 13. Sherman; The Fall of Richmond

In the fourth year of the war the note of triumph passed from the Southern to the Northern poets. S. H. M. Byers’s Sherman’s March to the Sea and Halpine’s The Song of Sherman’s Army are almost gay, and Henry Clay Work’s Marching Through Georgia if not gay is nothing else. Holmes’s Sherman’s in Savannah rhymed the name of the fallen city with “banner.” Strangely haunting is Whitman’s Ethiopia Saluting the Colors. Also haunting, but sad, is Melville’s A Dirge for McPherson——

  • True fame is his, for life is o’er
  • Sarpedon of the mighty war——
  • while his Sheridan at Cedar Creek, The Fall of Richmond, and The Surrender at Appomattox, though never widely known, are full of that distinction which Melville, with all his irregularities, was never long without, in prose or verse. Thomas Buchanan Read’s famous Sheridan’s Ride is a better ballad than Melville’s piece on the same theme, but purely as poetry it is inferior. Henry Clay Work’s The Year of Jubilee, supposed to be written by a slave full of delight in the coming freedom, is too amusing and racy to need to have its poetical merits estimated. Read’s The Eagle and the Vulture and Weir Mitchell’s Kearsarge echoed the doom of the Alabama. Farragut was so fortunate as to have two poets among his officers at Mobile Bay: William Tuckey Meredith, who wrote Farragut——
  • Farragut, Farragut,
  • Old Heart of Oak,
  • Daring Dave Farragut,
  • Thunderbolt stroke——
  • and Brownell, whose The Bay Fight, though perhaps too long, can hardly be matched for martial energy.