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

October 10

The Battle of Maciejowice

By Thomas Campbell (1774–1844)

  • A village of Poland where, on Oct. 10, 1794, the Russians, under Freneau Fersen, defeated the Poles under Kosciusko.

  • OH sacred Truth! thy triumph ceased awhile,

    And Hope, thy sister, ceased with thee to smile,

    When leagued Oppression poured to Northern wars

    Her whiskered pandours and her fierce hussars,

    Waved her dread standard to the breeze of morn,

    Pealed her loud drum, and twanged her trumpet horn;

    Tumultuous horror brooded o’er her van,

    Presaging wrath to Poland and to man!

    Warsaw’s last champion from her height surveyed,

    Wide o’er the fields, a waste of ruin laid,—

    “Oh heaven!” he cried, “my bleeding country save!

    Is there no hand on high to shield the brave?

    Yet, though destruction sweep these lovely plains,

    Rise, fellow-men! our country yet remains!

    By that dread name we wave the sword on high,

    And swear for her to live!—with her to die!”

    He said, and on the rampart-heights arrayed

    His trusty warriors, few, but undismayed;

    Firm-paced and slow, a horrid front they form,

    Still as the breeze, but dreadful as the storm;

    Low, murmuring sounds along their banners fly,

    Revenge or death,—the watchword and reply;

    Then pealed the notes, omnipotent to charm,

    And the loud tocsin tolled their last alarm!

    In vain alas! in vain, ye gallant few!

    From rank to rank your volleyed thunder flew:—

    Oh! bloodiest picture in the book of Time,

    Sarmatia fell, unwept, without a crime;

    Found not a generous friend, a pitying foe,

    Strength in her arms, nor mercy in her woe!

    Dropped from her nerveless grasp the shattered spear,

    Closed her bright eye, and curbed her high career!

    Hope, for a season, bade the world farewell,

    And Freedom shrieked—as Kosciusko fell!