The 15th in Baltimore
At the 14th reunion of the 15th in 1880, Capt. T. J. Hastings of Worcester read a poem, describing the passage of the regiment through Baltimore on its way to the front, written by a lady of New Jersey, who was present in Baltimore when the regiment passed through August 10th 1861, and was the lady referred to as leaning on the old gentleman's arm on that occasion. The poem is as follows:
It was our hour of trial, when loyal hearts, astir,
Seeing their country's peril, sprang up to rescue her;
When all the North was moving, as it were but on brave man.
And Massachusetts, bless her! led, as of old the van.
Her sons had borne our banner thro' many a fearful fray,
The starry flag of freedom, on many a fateful day
Had seen that glorious standard with their life-blood sprinkled o'ver;
And again the cry came ringing: !100,000 more."
And we gave them -- gave our loved ones, as we would have given our life;
God knows it had been easier to dare, with them, the strife.
No matter what the fates may bring, no other future day
Can be so dark as that one on which they marched away.
The old 15th -- what memories the very name inspires!
How our boys' eyes flash and sparkle, and how the
Time never can extinguish, flame into fresher life,
Again in fancy sharing long march and deadly strife.
The old 15th! Its partings (the hardest task) were o'er,
And home lay far behind them, in front was Baltimore.
"Look to your guns, my comrades," their
gallant Colonel said;
"If rebels strike, remember our Massachusetts dead!"
"Remember how our vanguard, our own brave Sixth, was met;
Remember that the spirit which slew them rankles yet
In many a rebel bosom; -- if they show fight today,
Be ready, and we'll teach them that's a game which two can lay."
With a cheer the soldiers answer -- a loyal ringing cheer--
Such as only true men give, such as stirs the blood to hear;
Then, with their foes about them, in patient silence stand
On guard, alert, awaiting the next word of command.
Around them traitors gather, hating the flag they bear;
Hating their very presence, and the uniform they wear;
Dark, scowling faces lower, and angry threat and sneer
Fall upon ears that listen, tho' they do not seem to hear.
Amid the crowding rabble who would gladly do them harm,
Stands a venerable man, with a lady on his arm;
Of calm and stately presence, with snow white beard and hair,
It seems a thousand pities one so noble should be there.
"If men like that turn rebel, why wonder at the rest?
He looks like one," our soldiers think, "who might stand any test."
And, thinking thus, a Captain of the 15th chanced to ride
Close by where he was standing, with the lady by his side.
Making a quick step forward, as the Captain drew his rein,
As if for this they waited -- upon the horse's
The old man laid a trembling hand, and, lifting up his head
"May I ask what regiment is this?" in courteous tones he said.
The 15th Massachusetts," was the soldier's proud reply,
We come from Worcester, sir." Tears dimmed the old man's eye
"God bless old Massachusetts!" were the only words he said.
As reverently he raised his had, and bent his good gray head.
"Amen!" the Captain answered, and his cap was lifted, too.--
The old man's benediction fell on his heart like dew,
Amid the oaths and jeering of that
howling rebel throng.
That unexpected blessing was like an angel's song.
The call to march was sounded, and, with no other word
The old man and his daughter fell back amid the horde,
And the 15th Massachusetts moved down the city street,
Strengthened by that one blessing, for the conflicts they must meet.
"God bless old Massachusetts!" we echo it today --
God bless her, now and ever, from the mountains to the bay!
May her laurels never wither, may her sons be ever true,
And every year her vigor and her freshness but renew.
And the old 15th! may blessings descend upon it, too!
As year by year,
it gathers, be its vacant places few!
And, earth's reunions over and earthly conflicts past,
May it join, with ranks unbroken, Heaven's grand review at last!