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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Georgia Volunteer

Dedicated to the everlasting memories of all those
Known But To God

who wore the hallowed gray and butternut uniforms of Dixie.

A Georgia Volunteer

Far up the lonely mountain-side
My wandering footsteps led;
The moss lay thick beneath my feet,
The pine sighed overhead. 
The trace of a dismantled fort
Lay in the forest nave,
And in the shadow near my path
I saw a soldier's grave.

The bramble wrestled with the weed
Upon the lowly mound;
The simple head-board, rudely writ,
Had rotted to the ground;
I raised it with a reverent hand,
From dust its words to clear,
But time had blotted all but these--
"A Georgia Volunteer!"

I saw the toad and scaly snake
From tangled covert start, 
And hide themselves among the weeds
Above the dead man's heart;
But undisturbed, in sleep profound,
Unheeding, there he lay;
His coffin but the mountain soil,
His shroud Confederate gray.

I heard the Shenandoah roll
Along the vale below,
I saw the Alleghanies rise
Toward the realms of snow.
The 'Valley Campaign' rose to mind-
Its leader's name-and then
 I knew the sleeper had been one
Of Stonewall Jackson's men.

Yet whence he came, what lip shall say-
Whose tongue will ever tell
What desolated hearths and hearts
Have been because he fell?
What sad-eyed maiden braids her hair,
Her hair which he held dead?
One lock of which perchance lies with
The Georgia Volunteer!

What mother, with long watching eyes,
And white lips, cold and dumb,
Waits with appalling patience for 
Her darling boy to come?
Her boy! whose mountains grave swells up
But one of many a scar,
Cut on the face of our fair land,
By gory-handed war. 

What fights he fought, what wounds he wore,
Are all unknown to fame;
Remember, on his holy grave
There is not e'en a name!
That he fought well and bravely too,
And held his country dear,
We know, else he had never been
A Georgia volunteer. 

He sleeps-what need to question now
If he were wrong or right?
He knows, ere this, whose cause was just
In God the Father's sight. 
He wields no warlike weapons now,
returns no foeman's thrust-
Who but a coward would revile 
An honest soldier's dust?

Roll, Shenandoah, proudly roll,
Adown thy rocky glen,
Above thee lies the grave of one 
Of Stonewall Jackson's men.
Beneath the cedar and the pine,
In solitude austere.
Unknown, unnamed, forgotten, lies
A Georgia Volunteer!

This poem was written not long after the war’s end by Miss Mary Ashley Townsend, a northern-born American poet living in New Orleans, Louisiana. 

Miss Mary Ashley Townsend (1832 - 1901)

A Georgia Volunteer reflects another sad and tragic reality of the aftermath of the War Between The States (1861-1865). Far far too many young soldiers are buried today in Unknown graves across the United States, especially in the American Southland. In those graves lie the remains of someone's son, brother, husband, or sweetheart who died and never returned home. Someone who had loved ones who never knew the ultimate fate of their beloved child, sibling, or lover.  

It is in that memory of those who never returned home -- at least in this world -- that this blogger dedicates this post.

Y'all are not forgotten!

Deo Vindice! 


  1. Maybe, that is the price they paid for secession and slavery...

    1. Perhaps, but plenty a Union boy ALSO lies in Unknown graves across Dixie, having paid the price of the invader.
      All the same, no matter what uniform they wore or cause they served - either in service to government or personal honor - these men and boys deserve to be remembered with honor for the individual life and soul they were. I assume we can at least agree on that point?