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.

III. Poets of the Civil War II

§ 4. Soldier Poets

Of this solidarity of Southern opinion and feeling no better evidence could be given than the fact that practically all those who wrote poetry during the Civil War were either participants in the actual struggle or were intimately connected with those who were. Theodore O’Hara, who had been in active service during the Mexican War and had written The Bivouac of the Dead in honour of those who died in that war, was colonel of an Alabama regiment and later a staff officer in the Confederate Army. Henry Rootes Jackson, who had also fought in the Mexican War and had written My Wife and Child and The Red Old Hills of Georgia, served under Hood in the battles around Atlanta, commanded a brigade in the Army of Tennessee, and was captured in the battle of Nashville. Their poems of the Mexican War were frequently quoted, and in fact were printed in nearly all the Southern anthologies of the Civil War. James Barron Hope, who had been Virginia’s official poet at the Jamestown celebration and the unveiling of the Washington monument in Richmond (1858), was quartermaster and captain in the Army of Virginia, and came out of the struggle broken in fortune and in health. Albert Pike, born in Massachusetts and author of Hymns to the Gods (1839), was Confederate Commissioner to the Indians and afterwards a brigadier-general. Margaret Junkin Preston, born in Philadelphia, revealed in Beechenbrook—a poetical transcript of her experiences and impressions of the war—what the war meant to a woman who was the wife of one of the most distinguished colonels of Lee’s army, the sister-in-law of Stonewall Jackson, and the friend of Lee. John R. Thompson, successor to Poe as the editor of The Southern Literary Messenger, became assistant secretary to the Commonwealth of Virginia and was later sent to England in the hope that his poems and articles might help to win English sympathy for the Confederacy. Of the younger poets Paul Hamilton Hayne, Henry Timrod, and James Ryder Randall volunteered for service but were prevented by delicate constitutions from remaining in the army, though as staff officers, correspondents, or poets they followed the events of the war with the keenest interest. Henry Lynden Flash was on the staff of General Joseph Wheeler and was thus prepared by his experience to write his tributes to Zollicoffer, Polk, and Jackson. Dr. Francis O. Ticknor was in charge of the hospital work at Columbus, Georgia, and ministered to the needs of soldiers, among them the brave Tennessean whom he made immortal in Little Giffen. Abram J. (Father) Ryan could never have written The Conquered Banner and The Sword of Robert Lee if he had not visualized as a chaplain the heroism and tragedy of the long struggle. William Gordon McCabe, who went from the University of Virginia as one of the Southern Guards, was a poet of the trenches, giving expression in his Dreaming in the Trenches and Christmas Night of ’62 to the quieter and gentler aspects of a soldier’s life. Sidney Lanier and John B. Tabb, after living the romantic life of soldiers, sealed a memorable friendship by a common suffering in the prison at Point Lookout.