James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

July 20

Logan at Peach Tree Creek

By Hamlin Garland (1860–1940)

  • A Veteran’s Story
  • A small stream near Atlanta. Here the Federals under Sherman defeated the Confederates under Hood on July 20, 1864.

  • YOU know that day at Peach Tree Creek,

    When the Rebs with their circling, scorching wall

    Of smoke-hid cannon and sweep of flame

    Drove in our flanks, back! back! and all

    Our toil seemed lost in the storm of shell—

    That desperate day McPherson fell!

    Our regiment stood in a little glade

    Set round with half-grown red oak trees—

    An awful place to stand, in full fair sight,

    While the minie bullets hummed like bees,

    And comrades dropped on either side—

    That fearful day McPherson died!

    The roar of the battle, steady, stern,

    Rung in our ears. Upon our eyes

    The belching cannon smoke, the half-hid swing

    Of deploying troops, the groans, the cries,

    The hoarse commands, the sickening smell—

    That blood-red day McPherson fell!

    But we stood there!—when out from the trees,

    Out of the smoke and dismay to the right

    Burst a rider—His head was bare, his eye

    Had a blaze like a lion fain for fight;

    His long hair, black as the deepest night

    Streamed out on the wind. And the might

    Of his plunging horse was a tale to tell,

    And his voice rang high like a bugle’s swell;

    “Men, the enemy hem us on every side;

    We’ll whip ’em yet! Close up that breach—

    Remember your flag—don’t give an inch!

    The right flank’s gaining and soon will reach—

    Forward boys, and give ’em hell!”—

    Said Logan after McPherson fell.

    We laughed and cheered and the red ground shook,

    As the general plunged along the line

    Through the deadliest rain of screaming shells;

    For the sound of his voice refreshed us all,

    And we filled the gap like a roaring tide,

    And saved the day McPherson died!

    But that was twenty years ago,

    And part of a horrible dream now past.

    For Logan, the lion, the drums throb low

    And the flag swings low on the mast;

    He has followed his mighty chieftain through

    The mist-hung stream, where gray and blue

    One color stand,

    And North to South extends the hand.

    It’s right that deeds of war and blood

    Should be forgot, but, spite of all,

    I think of Logan, now, as he rode

    That day across the field; I hear the call

    Of his trumpet voice—see the battle shine

    In his stern, black eyes, and down the line

    Of cheering men I see him ride,

    As on the day McPherson died.