Edward Johnson Runk.

Washington : a national epic in six cantos online

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The youth ride by, or in mild ranks
Of infantry evolve by flanks.
And march, or charge, or skirmish quick.



IVEST POINT. lOI



The four years up, visitors pick
The learned valor out, approve
The work, and see the soldiers move
In drills that represent their skill.
Examinations passed, they will
Enjoy the graduation hop.
And spin the saltatory top.
Diplomas given beneath the trees
Shall end the days of gray for these,
Changed to brave officers in coats
Of blue, and others come. So floats
The stream of life 'mid hills of war
With shadows reaching out so far.




CANTO FIFTH

FISHKILL

I

ENDURING steadfast, mountains stand
With verdure sprinkled o'er the grand
Array of rocks exposed, while glide
In living motion waters wide
Or narrow of the rushing stream.
Of things in daylight seen we dream
At night, and environs the mind
Affect, and mountaineers may find
In rocky hills exemplars meet
To guide and hold their shifting feet.
The stars above look down in hope
On earth that weary scans their cope
To read a promise of success
To come, and from the wilderness
Of struggle passing to the plain
Of safety peaceful, where the reign

102



FISHKTLL. 103



Of free industry is assured.

One winter more patient endured

Shall find America's fair spring

Of blossomed glory appearing,

And Washington with diadem

Of victory elect with them

Who erst for freedom strove and won.

December's solstice nears the sun,

When winter quarters had begun

For all the host safe from treason

Delivered, and in Morristown

The Pennsylvanians from the frown

Of nature housed them, whilst Pompton

Hides the Jersey brigades, and on

The Hudson's banks Massachusetts

Continuing the cause abets

With four brigades at West Point placed.

On eastern shore confronting faced

These two Connecticut brigades.

With New Hampshire's men and the aids

Rhode Island sent. But Washington

At New Windsor tarried for one

More waiting till the war had run

Its course and set, as when the sun

Victorious its glory sheds

Around to linger on the heads

Of mountains, farewell fond to say

To sturdy toilers of the day.



[04 WASHINGTON.



II



November sombre in Eighty,

Over a hundred years lately

Gone by, the friendly coming hailed

Of Gallia's Marquis, who had sailed *

From home to visit the allies

Of France, and from the east with wise

Footsteps to old Fishkill journeyed —

De Chastellux his name we read.

Then fifty houses lay around

The village site within the ground

Of Rambout's patent, where the creek

Flows shaded 'neath the hills to seek

The Hudson's broader silver stream.

Borne back two centuries we seem,

When Rambout's daughter marries Brett,

And they their country mansion set

Within these lands, standing to-day.

Verplancks and Van Voorhees this way

Settle ; Brinckerhoffs and Van Vliets,

De Peysters and Van Wycks their seats

Establish; Van Tassels, Du Bois,

Schoutens, Ter Boos, Noostrands make choice

Of homes, Brevorts, Ostranders, Schencks,

Hegemans, Roosekrans, Lessinks,

Swartwouts, De Largers, and the rest,

Unmentioned, yet among the best.



FISH KILL. 105



III



Two churches then in Fishkill stood,

The one of stone and one of wood.

The latter housed the English rite ;

And, when the patriots from the sight

Of war around New York removed,

E'en here to Fishkill it behooved

Their Congress of the state to come,

And use the English churchly home

In Constitutional debate.

Through wintry months here sat the great

At work upon our law till fear

Of war in February drear

Moved them to Kingston, where in May

Of seventy seven the day

Of dissolution dawned. They part

With two years' labor o'er, a chart

To give, a Constitution long

To guide the people, and from the wrong

Defend the right. Twice since we changed

The ancient instrument, estranged

From current use, and oft enlarged

Its articles, like branches charged

On high with fruits and leafage grown

That still for life their rooting own

In ancient trunk and netted coil

Of seed-sprung shoots beneath the soil.



I06 WASHINGTON.



IV



In the same church where sage debate
Resolved a charter for the state,
First printed in Fishkill, the sick
Soldiers were nursed to keep the wick
Of life afire, whilst caged near by
The prisoners of the war lie
In the Dutch church erst made of stone.
A row of port-holes wisely thrown
Into the upper story walls
Against the Redmen's arrows, balls,
And fierce attack had lent defense ;
And here was Crosby for offense '
Of seeming aid to royal foes
Confined a captive, kept with those
Whom his espial had disclosed
To patriot leaders that supposed
And knew his knowledge truly told.
Escape, connived at, to his old
Service restored the spy a while,
Till darkling danger from his guile
Dissuaded him. But still he lives
In Cooper's storied page that gives
The Spy his due of grateful praise,
Describes the Wharton house of days *
Gone by, built by Van Wyck, and all
The scene around, where mountains fall



FISH KILL. 107

With shadows on the plain below,
And Fishkill's babbling waters flow.



V



At Wharton house the officers

Their quarters kept ; and horse and spurs

But two miles passed to Washington,

When he headquarters placed at one

Time with the Brinckerhoff to north '

And east beyond ; and southward forth

Toward the mountains barracks lay

To house the soldiers from the fray

Of conflict or of winter cold.

A noble walnut tree of old

Before the manse adorned the field,

With iron ring, where soldiers yield

To chastisement. The magazines,

Work-house and prisons dot the greens;

And in the corner, where the road

Branches eastward, where the corn is sowed,

We look upon the last abode

Of soldiers dead and buried here,

Who fell from wounds and lack of cheer.

O martyred host, obscure, unnamed.

Unnumbered, but forever famed.

Revered and loved ! some sightly shaft

Of modern wealth and modern craft



1 08 WA SHING TON.



Shall yet this hallowed spot adorn,

Inscribed like ancient legend borne

Upon Thermopylae's great stone,

Through freedom's realms by all men known,

** Stranger go, to America tell;

Obedient to her laws we fell."



VI



All this the Marquis saw, and turned

To travel southward, where he learned

The way to West Point winding led

Between the mountains with their bed

Of caves and tangled trees for bears

That lurk within these lofty lairs.

Within the woods a fort appears

Beside the road, and now he nears

The sombre shades of Beacon hill

And Grand Sachem, where patriots fill

The night betimes with warning fires,

In lieu of telegraphic wires,

Of news or danger nigh to tell.

Four miles he had descended well

On his journey, when in a camp

Hundreds of soldiers with the stamp

Of suffering on their naked forms

Were seen, there sheltered from the storms,

With ready arms and courage strong,



FISHKILL. 109



Enduring steadfast through the long

Conflict for liberty and life.

O men of later day, whom strife

Successful of those heroes dead

Enriched with land and freedom wed

To civic and religious right,

Can we within the very sight

Of hallowed scenes of woe like these.

Embowered 'mid the mountain trees,

With bribes and drink contaminate

The regulation of the state ?

VII

Onward, downward, the traveler fares,
Whilst Autumn's changing Nature wears
Her gorgeous gown and fading face.
Till to the stream he turns to trace
His way, when on his raptured sight
The hill-crowned Hudson comes to Hght,
With forts and warlike armaments.
And shores that gleam with lines of tents,
And on the eastern bank he leaves.
Where northward rounding Taurus heaves
Its shaded rocks against the sky,
Upon the circling camp his eye
May glance from Table Rock around "
To Foundry Cove — all hallowed ground.



no WA SHING TON.



For where the village meets the bank

A spring was found, and there they drank

In olden days, e'en Washington,

'T is said, who slaking thirst at one

Cool fount, and, drinking, lingering

Pronounced it a very cold spring/

Upon the hillside Butterfield,*

The General, dwells, who lately sealed

Devotion to his country's good

In days of civil war with blood

He risked and shed on many fields.

Spared, May's first morn fresh honor yields^

To him, who leads the pageantry

Of civic worth and industry

This year before the President,"

And summer sees him represent

The triumph of our arms in war

Beside imperial Russia's czar."

VIII

Under the cliffs of Taurus lies

The pillared porch of Morris, wise "

In days gone by to weave the strains

For singing that Erato deigns

To love, when couched in ballad verse.

And now his ashes in the hearse

Of buried nature with us dwell



FISHKILL. 1 1 1



By mountain stream he loved so well.

Where troops encamped now dwellings rise,

And churchly spires point toward the skies,

Whilst shops infold the foliaged streets.

Below in foundry cove the seats "

Of skillful toil resound with stress

Of labor moulding stubbornness

Of iron to some shrewd design.

Rebellion's cannon conquering line

Of deadly hail here deftly cast

Assisted victory at last

To bring our struggling arms, and keep

United still the land whose sweep

Of power vast the dream excels

Of revolution's sentinels.

Here Kemble planned,'* and Parrott " wrought,

And Paulding's entertaining thought "

In novels cast still lingers round

The hill that heard war's iron sound.



IX



So glanced the Marquis o'er the scene
Where beauty reigns with peace serene ;
And as he passed upon his way
The winter fell with shortened ray
Of waning sun that waxes bright
Once more with victory's blest light



112 WA SHING TON.



In eighty-one's auspicious year.
At Morristown and Pompton fear
Of mutiny of suffering troops
Is overcome, though CHnton stoops
To tempt their constancy with bribes,
And remedy the law prescribes.
Now Arnold with a force ascends "
The river James, and fiercely sends
Destruction o'er Virginia's land
In show of zeal with change of hand
To royal cause and royal sword.
Relief the people roused afford
The state, and Lafayette combines
With Gallia's fleet within the lines
Of trapping war the fox to seize.
'T is not to be; the traitor flees
Unto New York and Philips leaves
The red destruction to fulfill.
And execute the royal will.



Up from the south Cornwallis moves

Till dashing Tarleton rashly proves

For his proud chief the valorous mood

Of Morgan's troops in hardihood

At Cowpens shown. The chieftain springs "

To prompt pursuit, but Morgan flings



FISHKILL, 113



His brave retreating host across

Catawba's stream too soon, and loss

Of time from rain the Briton holds,

Till Yadkin's flood our men infolds

From capture, and Greene takes command.

Now to the Dan across the land

They rush, and blood from shoeless feet

Of patriots their pathway fleet

With fearful tell-tale stains reveals,

Till passage o'er the river seals

Awhile for them security.

Now reinforced futurity

For Greene proclaims advance and stand

To make at Guilford Court House, planned

By Cornwallis to be attacked.

Defeat befell ; yet the Briton tracked

Him not, but wounded sore made way

To Wilmington to bide his day

Beside the sea. Defeat again

Befell brave Greene near Camden

At Rawdon's hands toward April's end,

Nor may the victory descend

Complete on him at Eutaw Springs,

September-fought, but halting brings

Him to the high hills of Santee

Adjacent to the sounding sea.



114 ^-^ SHING TON.



XI



The northern chieftain faithful kept

One wintry vigil more, nor slept

In hopelessness, for dawn drew near.

The Martial winds were blowing drear '*

Across these fields, when eastward rode

The chief to Newport, and abode

Three weeks with Gallia's leaders brave

And courteous, planning to pave

A way of war to victory.

May bloomed upon their bravery

With conference at Weathersfield,

Connecticut, and planning sealed

The orders westward to advance.

And soon the gleaming bayonets glance

On Hudson's eastern stretching shore

Around Dobb's Ferry and before

The Bronx's narrow, shaded, stream.

Six weeks, till mid-August, the dream

Of chivalry American

And their allies, the Gallican,

Encamp to threaten prompt descent

Upon New York; and word was sent

To Cornwallis beside the sea

To march and rest his arms, to be

Prepared to Clinton's aid to sail.

De Grasse now writes that he will hail



FISH KILL. 115



Virginia's coast at Chesapeake,
And landing for his soldiers seek.
Southward the allied host must fare,
And Cornwallis encamped ensnare.
Below us a short way very,
Only twelve miles, at King's Ferry,
The allies cross our silver stream
On march triumphant, whilst foes dream
Attack impending upon New York.
Through Trenton, Philadelphia, work
The armies brave their way, till all
Too late the fatal schemings fall
Opened on Clinton's mind deceived.
To stop the march a plan conceived
Sent Arnold to New London east '°
With burning massacre to feast
Upon the state, whose cause he sought
To stab ; but all in vain ; for nought
Could turn the hand of history
From Yorktown's shore of victory.

XII

September's closing days beheld "
The British Yorktown host compelled
A siege to stand. De Grasse with ships
Shut up the bay, and from the lips
Of Washington and Rochambeau



Il6 WASHINGTON.



Fell orders to the encircling row
Of gathered troops. De Lauzun brave "
With his dragoons across the wave
On Gloucester's Point completes the net.
Approaches made, the cannon let
Their deadly roaring loose to crush
The works and hostile firing hush.
Nearer they draw, and now they rush
Upon redoubts. Against the one^^
Brave Hamilton, with Fish, Ogden,"
Laurens, Gibbs, and Gimat charges;
Against the other enlarges
French valor for the commonweal,
Led by the Baron Viomenil,""
Dumas, De Deuxponts, De Lameth,
And young De Sireuil, doomed to death.
Triumphant valor captures all,
Nor can a dashing sortie fall
Successful on the nearing lines.
A dreadful storm blasts the designs
By Gloucester to escape from fate ;
And Clinton's aid has sailed too late.
Past mid-October, in the morn.
Must Cornwallis, of glory shorn.
To parley beat, and terms accept,
Surrendering all, by vengeance swept,
A name disgraced, a fame unwept.



FISH KILL.



117



XIII



The nineteenth of October, long

Hoped for, saw the allied ranks, strong

With sixteen marshaled thousands, ranged

Beside the Hampton road ; and, changed

From pomp to woe, the captive host,

Seven thousand strong, with humbled boast,

And colors cased, and drummers' blare

Of music in a British air.

At two o'clock by solar light,

O'Hara leads between the right"

Line drawn up of Americans

And left array of Galileans,

Whilst twenty thousand populace

With joyful mien surround the place.

To Washington he bows, and pleads

Excuse for Cornwallis, who needs

Seclusion in a sheltering tent,

But with his sword O'Hara sent.

Then Washington to Lincoln waves "

Him for directions that he craves.

So Lincoln led them to the field.

And there O'Hara meek must yield

The sword, by Lincoln given back.

Following in their chieftain's track

The twenty-eight captains in line,

With colors cased, must now consign



1 1 8 WA SHING TON.



The standards of their regiments
To twenty-eight marshaled sergeants
Six paces from their rank arrayed.
The transfer gracefully to aid
Between them stands the young ensign
Wilson, youngest officer in line,
Who takes the standard from each hand,
And gives it to the sergeant band.
Then arms are piled upon the ground,
Accouterments laid down ; and sound
Of war has ceased. The ships to France
Are given, and warlike stores enhance
The treasures of the allied arms,
Triumphant 'mid the war's alarms.

XIV

A hundred years had passed away
Upon the land, where Yorktown's ray
Of triumph grand with glory crowned
Successful all the patient wound
Of steadfastness the modest name
Of Fishkill signifies to fame;
And on that same peninsula
Of revolution's weary war
McClellan had in contest sore
Contended for a union more
Prolonged than passion's fury wished.



FISHKILL.



The greater nation, from the famished
Conflicts emerged, would celebrate.
With foreign guests of Gallia great
And Brave Germania, the weight
Of ancient worth and valor proved.
With oratory it behooved
The present to salute the past,
A monumental base to cast.
And troops parade for the event
Before the graceful President,
Who, like the knightly Arthur told
In British legend writ of old,
The vanquished foe now friendly held.
Would bind in bands that kindreds weld;
For at the mandate from his lips
Upon the mastheads of our ships
The British standard greets the breeze.
And now the gathered wonder sees
The yards are manned, and cannon roar
A loud salute o'er sea and shore,
To tell the world the ancient strife
Was not for death but all for life
And peace for all humanity
In keeping Saxon liberty.



CANTO SIXTH

NEWBURGH



FOR William prince of Orange famed,
And later England's king, they named
A county by the Highland stream/
And, where it broadens in a dream
Of bay-like beauty, England's Queen,
The good Queen Anne, whose arms had been
Assisted by Palatines brave
In Europe's wars, a refuge gave
To their distress, when fiercely driven
From home by persecutions given
In Louis' harsh religious zeal/
With patents from the royal seal
Foundations of a town they lay,
A Newburgh called, and on the Tay
In Scottish land near high Dundee,
But nearer Perth washed by the sea,

120



NEWBURGH. \2



An older Newburgh erst was made.
But weary grown the Teutons bade
America's Rhine a long farewell,
And in their stead there came to dwell
The English, Irish, Huguenots,
To risk their scalps and crops and cots
Amid the lurid Indian's yells,
Whose breast with raging envy swells.



II



The heathen aborigines

Were wont to hold horrid orgies

Upon Dans Kamer's Point that lay

At Northern end of Newburgh bay;

And Bachtamo their god adored.

And help in all their schemes implored.

When to the hunt or war about

To march, here first they hold a rout,

Conjurers turned in somersaults,

Or smote themselves for all their faults,

Leaped round the blaze in maddened gyre,

Or charged, abandoned, through the fire.

Then all the tribe with caterwaul

Invoke to come the devil foul,

Whom in an animal they see,

If ravenous, bad prodigy,

If innocent, fair augury.



122 WA SHING TON,



The savages with warfare sly
Oft scourged the settlers doomed to die
Beneath their hand, and Minnisink
For e'er remains a dreaded brink
Of massacre, once wrought by Brant.
At Goshen now a shaft extant
Commemorates the whites who fell.
Contesting for their homes right well
That Julian day in Seventy-nine,''
Where Delaware's ravines entwine
Their rocky knolls with bosky vine.



Ill



In Orange saw the Clintons light,
Immortal trio, George who right *
Wisely as governor ruled the state.
And James who led to war's debate ^
The soldiery, sire of De Witt,"
His greater son, chosen to sit
As chieftain of the state, and plan
The great canal, now free, that ran
Between Lake Erie and the sea.
To fight the royal enemy
The people raised six regiments.
Du Bois as colonel brave presents ^
The continental Fifth in line.
From Goshen Allison the sign



NEWBURGH. 1 23



Of valor leads ; from Florida

Come Hathorn's soldiers to the war,

And Cornwall's patriotic host,

By WoodhuU led, maintain their post.

James Clinton heads New Windsor's braves,

And o'er the Newburgh warriors waves

The sword of Hasbrouck in command —

All sworn to free their native land.

Quebec and Montreal in fight

The Orange valor bring to light ;

Fort Schuyler, Saratoga's field.

And Yorktown's cape fresh honor yield.

And in the annals of the state

Their names enroll among the great.



IV



Where Otterkill its waters pours
Upon the Hudson's favored shores.
Now Moodna Creek or Murderer's called.
On broad Plum Point a battery walled '
And armed with guns, by Machin made.
An iron chain and boom surveyed
That stretched across to Pollepel's isle "
To close the stream 'gainst force or guile.
Below the Creek Sloop Hill arose.
Where vessels landed their cargoes,
With beacon fires illumed at night



124 WASHINGTON.



To flash the news along with light
In days of periled freedom's fight.
West of New Windsor lay the Square
With mansions round about, and there
The generals erst their quarters placed.
Greene, Qinton, Knox and St. Clair graced
The scene with Gates and La Fayette,
Whilst in the village, neighboring yet,
Had Washington his quarters set/"



In prosperous Newburgh, toward the south,

Above Quassaic's broadening mouth,

Lies Hasbrouck's house with gable roof,''

Built six score years ago, and proof

Against the gnawing tooth of time.

Within its walls we hear the chime

Of mellow memories — the shrewd

Designs of patriots, imbued

With yearnings all the state to free,

The mustering of company

And regiment that marched away

To swell America's array.

E'en valiant Hasbrouck's own command

To help emancipate the land.

From Philadelphia, where he stayed

The Winter after Yorktown made



NEWBURGH. 1 2$



Our arms victorious in war,
Came Washington to dwell afar
From home once more another year,
And in his house of stone from fear
And danger ward the waiting state.
Upon the stoop the Highland gate
And stream he might with ease survey,
And mountain range across the Bay.
Within, the room of seven doors
And single window, where fire roars
In huge recess, a welcome gave
To peaceful guests and warriors brave.



VI



While discontent stole through the host,

Encamped around these hills, and boast

Of mutiny was murmuring heard,

Redress from Congress seemed absurd,

And violence appeared the way

To wrest just treatment from delay.

In Pennsylvania's ranks enrolled

Led Lewis Nicola in bold

Array of arms a regiment,

Who in the bloom of May had sent "

A missive to the chief revered.

In which he pondered on the feared

Stability of government



126 WASHINGTON,



Republican, to represent

Advantages of monarchy,

The English one particularly,

And urge with gentle hint made plain

The kingly title and the reign

Majestic for the chief addressed.

But Washington such schemes repressed

With patriotic promptitude,

Rebuking all such hardihood,

Injurious to the struggling state.

Unlike ambitious Caesar, great

In war, who thrice refused a crown,

A single nay enough renown

Brought him, who played no pompous part,

But showed mankind an honest heart.

VII

The camps amid the Highland hills
Columbia's resting army fills,
While Frank allies the Winter pass
Within Virginia's lines, alas!
The keeper, too, with Maryland,
Of Britain's second lost command.
Revolving time the summer brings.
And Northward Gallia's army wings
Its homeward way across the lea.
Their brave allies once more to see



NEWBURGH. 12/



And bid farewell and fond Godspeed,

Columbia's soldiers, valiant breed

Of foemen armed, to Peekskill wend

Their way by road or boat, descend

Upon Verplanck's high pointed shore,

And wait their martial guests before

The bay that like Lake Como seems.

With ordered tents the landscape gleams.

September's speeding fortnight beams

Upon the serried martial lives,

When Rochambeau the brave arrives,

His welcome host in arms to lead

'Tvvixt dual lines that orders heed,

Arranging them from ferry pier

To quarters of the chieftain near.

The right wing under Gates is ranked

In two divisions closely flanked.

In one McDougall leads again "

Rhode Island and Connecticut's men,

And in the other Scotch St. Clair'*

With New York and New Jersey's pair

Of bold brigades, four regiments.

Deployed in steady line, presents.

The left wing stands with sturdy Heath,"

With one division ranged beneath

The sabre in Lord Stirling's hand,"

From Massachusetts' eastern land

And bleak New Hampshire's mountains grand,



128 WA SHING TON.



Whilst Howe's division is complete '"
With men from Massachusetts, meet
To start the war, and victory greet.
All uniformed and armed they rest.
Five thousand strong, to hail the guest
Of Gallia lingering in the West.

VIII

Up from the strand the Frenchmen come,
With banners flying, sound of drum.
And martial music, horses' stamp.
Artillery rumbling, and the tramp
Of ordered thousands, bright arrayed.
De Lauzun's legion undismayed,
With ViomeniTs light infantry.


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Online LibraryEdward Johnson RunkWashington : a national epic in six cantos → online text (page 5 of 8)