Wet, cheerless was our bivouac last eve, but still we spoke
Of fighting and of winning, to-morrow, when day broke:
That day the thundering echoes of cannon in our front
Had louder grown until around had raged the battle's brunt
At last the carnage ended, and our regiment's retreat
Was marked by many wounded, who shrieked beneath our feet!
But here in closer order rides past a Lancer Troop--
They had but late been charging like falcons when they swoop.
How few there are remaining! Now the river's bank is gained;
The Trumpeter's white charger with blood on neck is stained.
His snowy flanks are heaving; he shudders on the brink,
Then, gently urged, he halts again, and stoops his head to drink.
He cannot ford the river, for lost are strength and speed:
The Trumpeter, dismounted, now swims beside his steed.
Together they have struggled; he will not let him die,
And soon he stands beside him though the balls are rushing by.
He takes him by the bridle;--would lead him to the town,--
Too late,--for life is ebbing,--the gallant steed is down!
Ah! long I saw that horseman kneel by his charger's head,
And when at last he left him, I knew the horse was dead.
How fiercely as he passes that comrade on the plain,
Remounted on the morrow, shall sound the "charge" again!