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

April 15

The Réveille

By Francis Bret Harte (1836–1902)

  • The call for 75,000 volunteers, April 15, 1861.

  • HARK! I hear the tramp of thousands,

    And of armèd men the hum;

    Lo! a nation’s hosts have gathered

    Round the quick alarming drum—

    Saying, “Come,

    Freemen, come!

    Ere your heritage be wasted,” said the quick alarming drum.

    “Let me of my heart take counsel:

    War is not of life the sum;

    Who shall stay and reap the harvest

    When the autumn days shall come?”

    But the drum

    Echoed, “Come!

    Death shall reap the braver harvest,” said the solemn-sounding drum.

    “But when won the coming battle,

    What of profit springs therefrom?

    What if conquest, subjugation,

    Even greater ills become?”

    But the drum

    Answered, “Come!

    You must do the sum to prove it,” said the Yankee-answering drum.

    “What if, ’mid the cannon’s thunder,

    Whistling shot and bursting bomb,

    When my brothers fall around me,

    Should my heart grow cold and numb?”

    But the drum

    Answered, “Come!

    Better there in death united than in life a recreant—come!”

    Thus they answered—hoping, fearing,

    Some in faith, and doubting some,

    Till a triumph-voice proclaiming,

    Said, “My chosen people, come!”

    Then the drum,

    Lo! was dumb;

    For the great heart of the nation, throbbing, answered, “Lord, we come!”