Oh, Greencastle streets were a stream of steel
With the slanted muskets the soldiers bore,
And the scared earth muttered and shook to feel
The tramp and the rumble of Longstreet's Corps;
The bands were blaring The Bonny Blue Flag,
And the banners borne were a motley many;
And watching the gray column wind and drag
Was a slip of a girl--we'll call her Jenny.
A slip of a girl--what needs her name?--
With her cheeks aflame and her lips aquiver,
As she leaned and looked with a royal shame
On the steady flow of the steely river:
Till a storm grew black in her hazel eyes
Time had not tamed, nor a lover sighed for;
And she ran and she girder her, apron-wise,
With the flag she loved and her brothers died for.
Out of the doorway they saw her start
(Pickett's Virginians were marching through),
The hot little foolish hero-heart
Armored with stars and the sacred blue.
Clutching the folds of red and white
Stood she and bearded those ranks of theirs,
Shouting shrilly with all her might,
"Come and take it, the man that dares!"
Pickett's Virginians were passing through;
Supple as steel and brown as leather,
Rusty and dusty of hat and shoe,
Wonted to hunger and war and weather;
Peerless, fearless, an army's flower!
Sterner soldiers the world saw never,
Marching lightly, that summer hour,
To death and failure and fame forever.
Rose from the rippling ranks a cheer;
Pickett saluted, with bold eyes beaming,
Sweeping his hat like a cavalier,
With his tawny locks in the warm wind streaming.
Fierce little Jenny! her courage fell,
As the firm lines flickered with friendly laughter,
And Greencastle streets gave back the yell
That Gettysburg slopes gave back soon after.
So they cheered for the flag they fought
With the generous glow of the stubborn fighter,
Loving the brave as the brave men ought,
And never a finger was raised to fright her:
So they marched, though they knew it not,
Through the fresh green June to the shock infernal,
To the hell of the shell and the plunging shot,
And the charge that has won them a name eternal.
And she felt at last, as she hid her face,
There had lain at the root of her childish daring
A trust in the men of her own brave race,
And a secret faith in the foe's forbearing.
And she sobbed, till the roll of the rumbling gun
And the swinging tramp of the marching men
Were a memory only, and day was done,
And the stars in the fold of the blue again.
(Thank God that the day of the sword is done,
And the stars in the fold of the blue again!)