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

§ 5. Melville; Halpine

Herman Melville, who said in the preface to his Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War (1866) “I seem, in most of these verses, to have but placed a harp in a window, and noted the contrasted airs which wayward winds have played upon the strings,” suffered in his verse as in his minor romances from a fatal formlessness, but he had moments of contagious enthusiasm. He celebrated some of the most striking incidents of the war in The Victor of Antietam, The Cumberland, Running the Batteries, Sheridan at Cedar Creek, The Fall of Richmond, and The Surrender at Appomattox. Most intimately associated with hostilities of all was Charles Graham Halpine, better known as Miles O’Reilly, who entered the Union army and became a brigadier-general. Although his verse lacks metrical skill, it is vigorous and full of feeling, generally free of animosities, and in the tone of the soldier rather than of the bitter poet who stays at home.