All Quiet Along the Potomac Tonight

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For works with similar titles, see Along the Potomac.
All Quiet Along The Potomac Tonight
by Ethel Lynn Beers
A poem first published as "The Picket Guard" perhaps written by Ethel Lynn Beers in Harper's Weekly, November 30, 1861, but many authors claim ownership including Thaddeus Oliver of Georgia, and Major Lamar Fontaine, both confederate soldiers.

The music that accompanied this song was composed by John Hill Hewitt, while perhaps Ethel Lynn Beers wrote the lyrics, in 1863.— Excerpted from All Quiet Along the Potomac Tonight on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

A 1864 edition is significantly different.

Ethel Lynn Beers John Hill Hewitt AllQuietPotomacConfederate1863.png

Cover, sheet music, 1863

All quiet along the Potomac tonight,
except here and there a stray picket
is shot, as he walks on his beat to and fro,
by a rifleman hid in the thicket:
tis nothing, a private or two, now and then,
will not count in the news of the battle:
not an officer lost, only one of the men,
moaning out all alone the death rattle.

      All quiet along the Potomac tonight.

"All quiet along the Potomac tonight",
where the soldiers lie peacefully dreaming,
and their tents in the rays of the clear Autumn moon,
and the light of the campfires are gleaming.
A tremulous sigh as the gentle night wind
thro' the forest leaves slowly is creeping,
while the stars up above, with their glittering eyes,
keep guard o'er the army while sleeping.

      All quiet along the Potomac tonight.

There's only the sound of the lone sentry's tread,
as he tramps from the rock to the fountain,
and thinks of the two on the low trundle bed
far away in the cot on the mountain.
His musket falls slack - his face, dark and grim,
grows gentle with memories tender,
as he mutters a prayer for the children asleep,
and their mother - "May Heaven defend her."

      All quiet along the Potomac tonight.

Then drawing his sleeve roughly over his eyes,
he dashes off the tears that are welling:
and gathers his gun close to his breast
as if to keep down the hearts swelling.
He passes the fountain, the blasted pine tree,
and his footstep is lagging and weary:
yet onward he goes, thro' the broad belt of light,
towards the shades of the forest so dreary.

      All quiet along the Potomac tonight.

Hark! was it the night wind that rustles the leaves?
Was it the moonlight so wondrously flashing?
It looked like a rifle! "Ha! Mary, goodbye!"
and his life blood is ebbing and 'plashing.
"All quiet along the Potomac tonight,"
no sound save the rush of the river;
while soft falls the dew on the face of the dead.
"The Picket's" off duty forever.

      All quiet along the Potomac tonight.