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Calls out in words of jeering, just as if they all were


And his wooden leg thumps fiercely on the dusty belfry floor :

"Oh! fire away, ye villains, and earn King George's shillin's,


But ye'll waste a ton of powder afore a 'rebel' falls; You may bang the dirt and welcome, they're as safe as Dan'l Malcolm

Ten foot beneath the gravestone that you've splintered with your balls!"

In the hush of expectation, in the awe and trepidation 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.


67. Dr. Holmes makes the following note to this line : following epitaph is still to be read on a tall gravestone, standing as yet undisturbed among the transplanted monuments of the dead in Copp's Hill Burial Ground, one of the three city [Boston] cemeteries which have been desecrated and ruined within my own remembrance :

"Here lies buried in a

Stone Grave 10 feet deep
Who departed this Life
October 23, 1769,
Aged 44 years,

A true son of Liberty,
A Friend to the Publick,

An Enemy to oppression,

And one of the foremost
In opposing the Revenue Acts
On America."

Just a glimpse (the air is clearer), they are nearer,

[blocks in formation]

When a flash-a curling smoke-wreath

crash the steeple shakes —

then a

The deadly truce is ended; the tempest's shroud is



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

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!" - 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? ARE they beaten?" "Wait a while."


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 breasts again.

All at once, as we were gazing, lo! the roofs of Charlestown blazing!

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.

Have our soldiers got faint-hearted, and in noiseless 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 earthwork they will swarm!

But the words have scarce been spoken when the ominous calm is broken,

And a bellowing crash has emptied all the vengeance of the storm!


So again, with murderous slaughter, pelted backwards to the water,

Fly Pigot's running heroes and the frightened braves of Howe;

102. The generals on the British side were Howe, Clinton, and Pigot.

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 over now!"

And we looked, poor timid creatures, on the rough old soldier's features,


Our lips afraid to question, but he knew what we would ask :

"Not sure," he said; "keep quiet,

guess, they'll try it—


once more, I

then he

Here's damnation to the cut-throats!" handed me his flask,

Saying, "Gal, you're looking shaky; have a drop of Old Jamaiky;

I'm afeard there'll be more trouble afore the job is

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So I took one scorching swallow; dreadful faint I felt

and hollow,

Standing there from early morning when the firing 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,


When the old man said, "They're forming with their bagonets fixed for storming: It's the death-grip that's a coming, - they will try the works once more."

With brazen trumpets blaring, the flames behind them glaring,

The deadly wall before them, in close array they


Still onward, upward toiling, like a dragon's fold un


Like the rattlesnake's shrill warning the reverberating



Over heaps all torn and gory-shall I tell the fearful


How they surged above the breastwork, as a sea breaks over a deck;

How, driven, yet scarce defeated, our worn-out men retreated,

With their powder-horns all emptied, like the swimmers from a wreck?

It has all been told and painted; as for me, they say I fainted,


And the wooden-legged old Corporal stumped with me down the stair:

When I woke from dreams affrighted the evening lamps were lighted,

On the floor a youth was lying; his bleeding breast was bare.

And I heard through all the flurry, "Send for WARREN! hurry! hurry!

Tell him here's a soldier bleeding, and he 'll come and dress his wound!"


Ah, we knew not till the morrow told its tale of death

and sorrow,

129. Dr. Joseph Warren, of equal note at the time as a medical man and a patriot. He was a volunteer in the battle, and fell there, the most serious loss on the American side. See pp. 328, 329.

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