The bitter cup
Of that hard countermand
Which gave the Envoys up,
Still was wormwood in the mouth,
And clouds involved the land,
When, pelted by sleet in the icy street,
About the bulletin-board a band
Of eager, anxious people met,
And every wakeful heart was set
On latest news from West or South.
“No seeing here,” cries one–“don’t crowd–“
“You tall man, pray you, read aloud.”
We learn that General Grant,
Marching from Henry overland,
And joined by a force up the Cumberland sent
(Some thirty thousand the command),
On Wednesday a good position won–
Began the siege of Donelson.
The stronghold crowns a river-bluff,
A good broad mile of leveled top;
Inland the ground rolls off
Deep-gorged, and rocky, and broken up–
A wilderness of trees and brush.
The spaded summit shows the roods
Of fixed intrenchments in their hush;
Breast-works and rifle-pits in woods
Perplex the base.–
The welcome weather
Is clear and mild; ’tis much like May.
The ancient boughs that lace together
Along the stream, and hang far forth,
Strange with green mistletoe, betray
A dreamy contrast to the North.
Our troops are full of spirits–say
The siege won’t prove a creeping one.
They purpose not the lingering stay
Of old beleaguerers; not that way;
But, full of vim from Western prairies won,
They’ll make, ere long, a dash at Donelson.
Washed by the storm till the paper grew
Every shade of a streaky blue,
That bulletin stood. The next day brought
LATER FROM THE FORT.
Grant’s investment is complete–
A semicircular one.
Both wings the Cumberland’s margin meet,
Then, backwkard curving, clasp the rebel seat.
On Wednesday this good work was done;
But of the doers some lie prone.
Each wood, each hill, each glen was fought for;
The bold inclosing line we wrought for
Flamed with sharpshooters. Each cliff cost
A limb or life. But back we forced
Reserves and all; made good our hold;
And so we rest.
On Thursday added ground was won,
A long bold steep: we near the Den.
Later the foe came shouting down
In sortie, which was quelled; and then
We stormed them on their left.
A chilly change in the afternoon;
The sky, late clear, is now bereft
Of sun. Last night the ground froze hard–
Rings to the enemy as they run
Within their works. A ramrod bites
The lip it meets. The cold incites
To swinging of arms with brisk rebound.
Smart blows ‘gainst lusty chests resound.
Along the outer line we ward
A crackle of skirmishing goes on.
Our lads creep round on hand and knee,
They fight from behind each trunk and stone;
And sometimes, flying for refuge, one
Finds ’tis an enemy shares the tree.
Some scores are maimed by boughs shot off
In the glades by the Fort’s big gun.
We mourn the loss of colonel Morrison,
Killed while cheering his regiment on.
Their far sharpshooters try our stuff;
And ours return them puff for puff:
‘Tis diamond-cutting-diamond work.
Woe on the rebel cannoneer
Who shows his head. Our fellows lurk
Like Indians that waylay the deer
By the wild salt-spring.–The sky is dun,
Fordooming the fall of Donelson.
Stern weather is all unwonted here.
The people of the country own
We brought it. Yea, the earnest North
Has elementally issued forth
To storm this Donelson.