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The Phantom Armies

From the Grand Forks Daily Herald, May 30, 1914. By T. C. Harbaugh.

No drum-beats in the valley
    And no bugles on the hill
Where the summer breezes daily
    All the battle plain is still;
When the stars come out at even
    Far above the glist’ning dew,
There’s a phantom flag in heaven
    There are armies in the blue.

Comes to them a call to duty
    From the phantom corps of yore,
Where the roses in their beauty
    Deck the far-off river’s shore;
Do they dream of comrades sleeping
    Where the winds are wild and free,
Where the Rapidan is sweeping
    And where lisps the Tennessee?

O, the pity and the splendor
    Of the thinned, immortal lines!
Soon the Union’s last defender
    Will be camping ‘neath the pines
Where no hand heart-ties can sever
    And the shadows long are thrown
Where the grasses whisper ever
    And no bugle blast is blown.

They are marching yet in glory
    Where Potomac’s waters shine,
And the old camps tell the story
    Of the heroes of the line;
By the peaceful winding river
    Spectral sentries watch the foe
And their challenge sounds forever
    In the Land of Long Ago.

See! A line of Blue is marching
    There’s a drum-call in the street
And the heaven’s overarching
    Seems the veterans to greet;
They are marching slowly, slowly
    As the flowers to them nod
And their remnant grows more holy
    As the years pass on to God.

From out the dim, dead distance
    Charge the squadrons, Blue and Gray.
There is none to make resistance
    For they vanish, like the spray;
Not a cry, no word is spoken
    Ghostly banners catch the breeze,
And the silence is unbroken
    ‘Mong the tall and somber trees.

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