February 26, 1902
THE CONFEDERATE REUNION
By W. L. Sanford, Sherman, Texas
“We are going down to Dallas if our lives are spared till May,
To see the veteran army that immortalized the gray.
‘Twill be an inspiration and a precious boon, we know,
To cheer the marching columns that some forty years ago
In dazzling deeds of valor gave a deathless theme for song
And taught mankind the lesson to suffer and be strong.
“Their brows are deeply furrowed and their heads are touched with snow,
Their forms are bent with weight of years and some with weight of woe;
But their shields are just as spotless and their souls are just as true
As when they charged at Gettysburg the bristling ranks of blue.
They are coming to visit us, those old and grizzled men,
And we’ll give them such a welcome as will make them young again.
“We are going to take our boys along that they for once may see
The men who in the Wilderness fought under princely Lee.
And then the men of Shiloh, who, ‘mid canister and shell,
In pity paused to drop a tear when Sidney Johnston fell.
And Shenandoah’s heroes, too, who, with a rebel yell.
Had Stonewall Jackson ordered, would have stormed the gates of hell!
“And who shall write an epic of those days of fire and blood,
Nor name the dauntless warriors of Forrest and of Hood;
Of Morgan, the bold raider; of that dashing cavalier
“Jeb” Stuart; of young Pelham, the immortal cannoneer,
And all those knights of chivalry who rest in peace profound
In graves which jealous Fame has blessed and marked as holy ground.
“The puny wars which nations wage on nations of to-day
Are but the mimicry of war–the games which children play–
When gauged by that Titantic strife, when Southern valor hurled
Its thunderbolts against a foe whose ally was the world.
Then avalanche met avalanche, and loss was reckoned then
By squadrons and whole regiments, and not by single men.
“The world grown old, had never seen, and never more may see,
A host such as that whose sabers flashed about the flag of Lee.
And when the shrines for which they fought have crumbled into dust —
Aye, when this great Republic shall have perished, which it must,
When Truth shall wake her silent harp to songs of mighty wars,
Their names and deeds will blossom with the splendor of the stars.
“It was not ours to wear wit them the hollowed cloth of gray,
Nor share with them the stress of march, the horrors of the fray;
It was not ours to hunger and to thirst on war-swept plain
And bivouac on the battlefield, ‘mid ranks of comrades slain;
‘Twas not our fate to hear the jeers and face the victor’s frown
When Christ as Appomattox wept and pulled the curtain down;
“But well we know the story from Fort Sumter to the end,
And on our hearts is laid the charge to honor and defend
The cause for which they struggled and for which they bravely bled,
To love and aid the living and to reverence the dead;
To wreathe the sacred mounds where sleep those loyal hearts, and true,
And while the thread of life holds out, please God, these things we’ll do!
“Upon our walls three pictures hang–the faces of the three
Immortal Gods of warfare–Stonewall, Jackson, Johnston, Lee.
We placed them with the purpose that our little ones may grow
To learn the truth and love the men who in the long ago
Surrendered all save honor in a grand unequal fight
For homes and country and for what they still believe is right.
“So we’re going down to Dallas, those fast thinning ranks to meet
Which, only when outnumbered thrice, stacked arms in proud defeat.
The sun is fast declining and the march is nearly o’er,
And now and then comes a sound from yonder mystic shore;
It is Death’s bugle calling in some weary form in gray.
Let’s hasten on to cheer them for the last time, while we may.”