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In the hush of expectation, in the awe and trepida.
tion 70 Of the dread approaching moment, we are well
nigh breathless all; Though the rotten bars are failing on the rickety
belfry railing, We are crowding up against them like the waves
against a wall.
Just a glimpse (the air is clearer), they are nearer,
nearer, – nearer,
then a crash — the steeple shakes 75 The deadly truce is ended; the tempest's shroud
is rended; Like a morning mist it gathered, like a thunder
cloud it breaks!
O the sight our eyes discover as the blue-black
smoke blows over! The red-coats stretched in windrows as a mower
rakes his hay; Here a scarlet heap is lying, there a headlong
crowd is flying 80 Like a billow that has broken and is shivered into
Then we cried, “ The troops are routed! they are
beat - it can't be doubted! God be thanked, the fight is over 1”. Ah! the
grim old soldier's smile! “ Tell us, tell us why you look so ?” (we could
hardly speak, we shook so), “ Are they beaten ? Are they beaten ? ARB
they beaten ? " Wait a while."
85 O the trembling and the terror! for too soon we
saw our error:
They are baffled, not defeated; we have driven
them back in vain; And the columns that were scattered, round the
colors that were tattered, Toward the sullen silent fortress turn their belted
All at once, as we are gazing, lo the roofs of
Charlestown blazing! 90 They have fired the harmless village; in an hour
it will be down! The Lord in heaven confound them, rain his fire
and brimstone round them, The robbing, murdering red-coats, that would burn
a peaceful town!
They are marching, stern and solemn; we can see
each massive column As they near the naked earth-mound with the
slanting walls so steep. 95 Have our soldiers got faint-hearted, and in noise
less haste departed ? Are they panic-struck and helpless? Are they
palsied or asleep?
Now! the walls they ’re almost under! scarce a rod
the foes asunder! Not a firelock flashed against them! up the earth
work they will swarm! But the words have scarce been spoken, when the
ominous calm is broken, 100 And a bellowing crash has emptied all the ven
geance of the storm!
So again, with murderous slaughter, pelted back
wards to the water, Fly Pigot's running heroes and the frightened
braves of Howe; And we shout, “ At last they're done for, it's
their barges they have run for: They are beaten, beaten, beaten; and the battle's
105 And we looked, poor timid creatures, on the rough
old soldier's features, Our lips afraid to question, but he knew what we
I guess, they 'll try it-
then he handed me his flask,
Saying, "Gal, you're looking shaky; have a drop
of old Jamaiky; 110 I’m afeard there 'll be more trouble afore the job
is done”; So I took one scorching swallow; dreadful faint I
felt and hollow, Standing there from early morning when the fir
ing was begun.
All through those hours of trial I had watched a
calm clock dial, As the hands kept creeping, creeping, — they were
creeping round to four, 115 When the old man said, “ They're forming with
their bagonets fixed for storming: 102. The generals on the British side were Howe, Clinton and Pigoi.