Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 26.djvu/209

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( ',,/it', '/>i-'i/,- Mnininniii / Mn/i/t/omery, Ala. 199

"Oh! these were hours when thrilling joy repaid

A long, long course of darkness, doubts and fears The heartsick faintness of the hope delayed, The waste, the woe, the bloodshed, and tears, That tracked with terror the rolling years."

Next morning the troops start South! The panting locomotive crosses the Chattahoochee, and the Alabama soldier stands again on Alabama soil. Floods and raids have broken the railroad beyond, and the troops must march overland ibr home.

The morning bugle call to arms is sweeter now than the fox horn's notes, and familiar scenes bring back the sweet days of "Auld Lang Syne." The soldier is nearing home. His company ends its last march in the woods by the old school-house almost in site of home. He spreads his blanket near the spring, where he had often played with the boys who would not look on home to-morrow. He cannot sleep, but watches the stars go down, and w r aits the rosy morn which will hail with its crystal light the blue hill in the distance, and the road winding up its slope to the trees that rustle above his chimney. Early he is on the march. Now, he hears the peals of the village bells " sweeter than silver chimes by moonlight." Way off he sees the villagers coming out. The band greets them with Dixie. Then faint, then nearer and clearer, wild like the storm, comes back the grander music of long, unbroken, triumphant cheers, drowning bugle and drum. He is in the village now, marching past his own door. He sees the baby held up high in the sister's arms, hears the shout of the old man and boy, and drinks in, at the window, the sweet old face of mother, and the shy fond look of one dearer than sister, watch- ing at the gate. The glad breeze lifts above the ranks the torn flag these women gave him, and twines it with the shining bayonets. He marches under the arch and through lanes of maidens strewing flowers, and then the company halts, and stacks arms in the grove, near the church, where they heard the sermon the day they left for tin- war. Now from the same church walls, the " Te Deum," and songs of praise to the " Lord of Hosts, to whom all glories are;" swell upward and thrill the conscious air. Then he goes hon\e, and in sweet communion with those around his fireside, thanks God, with overflowing heart for peace.

(Alas it is all tlu- phantom of a dream of the paroled prisoner the .gin alUT Appomattox! He has stacked arms, but not before the llage church. On his homeward journey, he hears his leader is chained in a