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The Angels Of Buena Vista
by [?]


A letter-writer from Mexico during the Mexican war, when detailing some of the incidents at the terrible fight of Buena Vista, mentioned that Mexican women were seen hovering near the field of death, for the purpose of giving aid and succor to the wounded. One poor woman was found surrounded by the maimed and suffering of both armies, ministering to the wants of Americans as well as Mexicans, with impartial tenderness.

SPEAK and tell us, our Ximena, looking northward
far away,
O’er the camp of the invaders, o’er the Mexican
array,
Who is losing? who is winning? are they far or
come they near?
Look abroad, and tell us, sister, whither rolls the
storm we hear.
Down the hills of Angostura still the storm of
battle rolls;
Blood is flowing, men are dying; God have mercy
on their souls!
“Who is losing? who is winning?” Over hill
and over plain,
I see but smoke of cannon clouding through the
mountain rain.

Holy Mother! keep our brothers! Look, Ximena,
look once more.
“Still I see the fearful whirlwind rolling darkly
as before,
Bearing on, in strange confusion, friend and foeman,
foot and horse,
Like some wild and troubled torrent sweeping
down its mountain course.”

Look forth once more, Ximena! “Ah! the smoke
has rolled away;
And I see the Northern rifles gleaming down the
ranks of gray.
Hark! that sudden blast of bugles! there the troop
of Minon wheels;
There the Northern horses thunder, with the cannon
at their heels.

“Jesu, pity I how it thickens I now retreat and
now advance!
Bight against the blazing cannon shivers Puebla’s
charging lance!
Down they go, the brave young riders; horse and
foot together fall;
Like a ploughshare in the fallow, through them
ploughs the Northern ball.”

Nearer came the storm and nearer, rolling fast and
frightful on!
Speak, Ximena, speak and tell us, who has lost,
and who has won?
Alas! alas! I know not; friend and foe together
fall,
O’er the dying rush the living: pray, my sisters,
for them all!

“Lo! the wind the smoke is lifting. Blessed
Mother, save my brain!
I can see the wounded crawling slowly out from
heaps of slain.
Now they stagger, blind and bleeding; now they
fall, and strive to rise;
Hasten, sisters, haste and save them, lest they die
before our eyes!

“O my hearts love! O my dear one! lay thy
poor head on my knee;
Dost thou know the lips that kiss thee? Canst
thou hear me? canst thou see?
O my husband, brave and gentle! O my Bernal,
look once more
On the blessed cross before thee! Mercy!
all is o’er!”

Dry thy tears, my poor Ximena; lay thy dear one
down to rest;
Let his hands be meekly folded, lay the cross upon
his breast;
Let his dirge be sung hereafter, and his funeral
masses said;
To-day, thou poor bereaved one, the living ask thy
aid.

Close beside her, faintly moaning, fair and young,
a soldier lay,
Torn with shot and pierced with lances, bleeding
slow his life away;
But, as tenderly before him the lorn Ximena knelt,
She saw the Northern eagle shining on his pistol-
belt.

With a stifled cry of horror straight she turned
away her head;
With a sad and bitter feeling looked she back upon
her dead;
But she heard the youth’s low moaning, and his
struggling breath of pain,
And she raised the cooling water to his parching
lips again.

Whispered low the dying soldier, pressed her hand
and faintly smiled;
Was that pitying face his mother’s? did she watch
beside her child?
All his stranger words with meaning her woman’s
heart supplied;
With her kiss upon his forehead, “Mother!”
murmured he, and died!

“A bitter curse upon them, poor boy, who led thee
forth,
From some gentle, sad-eyed mother, weeping, lonely,
in the North!”
Spake the mournful Mexic woman, as she laid him
with her dead,
And turned to soothe the living, and bind the
wounds which bled.

“Look forth once more, Ximena!” Like a cloud
before the wind
Rolls the battle down the mountains, leaving blood
and death behind;
Ah! they plead in vain for mercy; in the dust the
wounded strive;
“Hide your faces, holy angels! O thou Christ of
God, forgive!”

Sink, O Night, among thy mountains! let the cool,
gray shadows fall;
Dying brothers, fighting demons, drop thy curtain
over all!
Through the thickening winter twilight, wide apart
the battle rolled,
In its sheath the sabre rested, and the cannon’s
lips grew cold.

But the noble Mexic women still their holy task
pursued,
Through that long, dark night of sorrow, worn and
faint and lacking food.
Over weak and suffering brothers, with a tender
care they hung,
And the dying foeman blessed them in a strange
and Northern tongue.

Not wholly lost, O Father! is this evil world of
ours;
Upward, through its blood and ashes, spring afresh
the Eden flowers;
From its smoking hell of battle, Love and Pity
send their prayer,
And still thy white-winged angels hover dimly in
our air!
1847.