Page:All quiet along the Potomac and other poems.djvu/355

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EXPLANATORY NOTES.

��Page ij. ALL QUIET ALONG THE POTOMAC. In the fall of 1861 " All Quiet along the Potomac" was the familiar head ing of all war-despatches. So when this poem appeared in the columns of Harper s Weekly, Nov. 3Oth, it was quickly repub- lished in almost every journal in the land. As it bore only the initials E. B., the poem soon became a nameless waif, and was attributed to various pens.

The London Times copied it as having been written by a Confederate soldier and found in his pocket after death. (It seems to have been a dangerous thing to copy it, as it has so often been found in dead men s pockets.) An American paper quoted it, saying that it was written by a private soldier in the United States service, and sent home to his wife. This statement was met by another, asserting that it was written by Fitz- James O Brien. As the soul of that true poet and gallant soldier had gone out through a ragged battle-rift won at Ball s Bluff, this was uncontradicted until an editorial paragraph ap peared in Harper s Weekly, July 4th, 1863, saying it had been written for that paper by a lady contributor.

It appeared in a volume of War- Poetry of the South, edited by Wm. Gilmore Sims, as a Southern production, and was set to music by a Richmond music-publisher in 1864, with " Words by Lamar Fontaine" on its title-page. A soldier- cousin, who went with Sherman to the sea, found in a deserted printing-office at Fayetteville a paper containing a two-column article on the poem, with all the circumstances under which " Lamar Fontaine composed it while on picket-duty."

It appeared in the earlier editions of Bryanfs Library of 30 349

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