Mudcat Café message #3688591 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #56795   Message #3688591
Posted By: GUEST,Jim Dixon 17 Feb 2015
21-Feb-15 - 03:45 PM
Thread Name: Greatest Anti-War Song Ever?
From The Southern Literary Messenger, Vol. 37 No. 2 (Richmond: MacFarlane & Fergusson, Feb., 1863), page 103.

[This is presented as a poem, not a song. Note that it consists of 4-line stanzas, whereas the song is rearranged as 8-line stanzas. No doubt this is what necessitated dropping 4 lines. I have boldfaced the words that are different from the song in the DT. Also note that the author Fontaine is not credited in the DT.]

By Lamar Fontaine, Company I, Second Regiment Virginia Cavalry. Written while on picket on the bank of the Potomac, 1861.

"All quiet along the Potomac to-night,"
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 to-night,"
Where the soldiers lie peacefully dreaming,
And their tents in the rays of the clear autumn moon
And the light of their camp-fires are gleaming.

A tremulous sigh, as a 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.

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 lie mutters a prayer for the children asleep,
And their mother?"may Heaven defend her."

The moon seems to shine as brightly as then?
That night when the love yet unspoken,
Leaped up to his lips, and when low murmur'd vows
Were pledged to be ever unbroken.

Then drawing his sleeve roughly over his eyes,
He dashes off the tears that are welling;
And gathers his gun close up to his breast
As if to keep down the heart's 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,
Toward the shades of the forest so dreary.

Hark! was it the night-wind that rustled the leaves?
Was it the moonlight so wond'rously flashing?
It looked like a rifle! "Ha! Mary good by!"
And his life-blood is ebbing and splashing.

"All quiet along the Potomac to-night."
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.