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Revolutionary War Poems

4th of July Poetry Suggestions

Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Concord Hymn

If you're looking for Revolutionary War poems for kids, try Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Paul Revere's Ride. For a short Revolutionary War poem, you might like The Divine Source of Liberty by Samuel Adams. A good long Revolutionary War poem is Oliver Wendell Holmes's Lexington. And for a famous Revolutionary War poem, try Ralph Waldo Emerson's Concord Hymn. Below is a more complete, categorized list of suggestions.

Revolutionary War Poems for Kids

  • Paul Revere's Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • The Veteran and the Child by Hannah Flagg Gould
  • Battle of Trenton by Anonymous
  • Song of Marion's Men by William Cullen Bryant

Short Revolutionary War Poems

  • The Divine Source of Liberty by Samuel Adams
  • Concord Hymn by Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • George Washington by James Russell Lowell
  • Warren's Address by John Pierpont
  • Great Washington by Annette Wynne

Famous Revolutionary War Poems

  • Paul Revere's Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • Lexington by Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • Concord Hymn by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Long Revolutionary War Poems

  • Paul Revere's Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • Lexington by Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • Ticonderoga by V.B. Wilson
  • Valley Forge by Thomas Buchanan Read
  • Song of Marion's Men by William Cullen Bryant
  • Nathan Hale by Francis Miles Finch
  • Molly Maguire at Monmouth by Anonymous
  • A Ballad of the Boston Tea Party by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Related Poems

Poems About the American Revolution

The following poems are listed by order of event where possible.

  1. A Ballad of the Boston Tea Party

    by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. Read at a meeting of the Massachusetts Historical Society in 1874. Holmes' account of the background of this poem is as follows:
    "The tax on tea, which was considered so odious and led to the act on which A Ballad of the Boston Tea Party is founded, was but a small matter, only twopence in the pound. But it involved a principle of taxation, to which the Colonies would not submit. Their objection was not to the amount, but the claim. The East India Company, however, sent out a number of tea-ships to different American ports, three of them to Boston.
    The inhabitants tried to send them back, but in vain. The captains of the ships had consented, if permitted, to return with their cargoes to England, but the consignees refused to discharge them from their obligations, the custom house to give them a clearance for their return, and the governor to grant them a passport for going by the fort. It was easily seen that the tea would be gradually landed from the ships lying so near the town, and that if landed it would be disposed of, and the purpose of establishing the monopoly and raising a revenue effected. To prevent the dreaded consequence, a number of armed men, disguised like Indians, boarded the ships and threw their whole cargoes of tea into the dock. About seventeen persons boarded the ships in Boston harbor, and emptied three hundred and forty-two chests of tea. Among these "Indians" was Major Thomas Melville, the same who suggested to me the poem, The Last Leaf."

    No! never such a draught was poured
    Since Hebe served with nectar
    The bright Olympians and their Lord,
    Her over-kind protector,—
    Since Father Noah squeezed the grape
    And took to such behaving
    As would have shamed our grandsire ape
    Before the days of shaving,—
    No! ne'er was mingled such a draught
    In palace, hall, or arbor,
    As freemen brewed and tyrants quaffed
    That night in Boston Harbor!

    It kept King George so long awake
    His brain at last got addled,
    It made the nerves of Britain shake,
    With sevenscore millions saddled;
    Before that bitter cup was drained,
    Amid the roar of cannon,
    The Western war-cloud's crimson stained
    The Thames, the Clyde, the Shannon;
    Full many a six-foot grenadier
    The flattened grass had measured,
    And many a mother many a year
    Her tearful memories treasured;
    Fast spread the tempest's darkening pall,
    The mighty realms were troubled,
    The storm broke loose, bnt first of all
    The Boston teapot bubbled!

    An evening party,— only that,
    No formal invitation,
    No gold-laced coat, no stiff cravat,
    No feast in contemplation,
    No silk-robed dames, no fiddling band,
    No flowers, no songs, no dancing,—
    A tribe of red men, axe in hand,—
    Behold the guests advancing!
    How fast the stragglers join the throng,
    From stall and workshop gathered!
    The lively barber skips along
    And leaves a chin half-lathered;
    The smith has flung his hammer down,—
    The horseshoe still is glowing;
    The truant tapster at the Crown
    Has left a beer-cask flowing;
    The cooper's boys have dropped the adze,
    And trot behind their master;
    Up run the tarry ship-yard lads,—
    The crowd is hurrying faster,—
    Out from the Millpond's purlieus gush
    The streams of white-faced millers,
    And down their slippery alleys rush
    The lusty young Fort-Hillers;
    The rope walk lends its 'prentice crew,—
    The tories seize the omen:
    "Ay, boys, you'll soon have work to do
    For England's rebel foemen,
    'King Hancock,' Adams, and their gang,
    That fire the mob with treason,—
    When these we shoot and those we hang
    The town will come to reason."

    On— on to where the tea-ships ride!
    And now their ranks are forming,—
    A rush, and up the Dartmouth's side
    The Mohawk band is swarming!
    See the fierce natives! What a glimpse
    Of paint and fur and feather,
    As all at once the full-grown imps
    Light on the deck together!
    A scarf the pigtail's secret keeps,
    A blanket hides the breeches,—
    And out the cursèd cargo leaps,
    And overboard it pitches!
    O woman, at the evening board
    So gracious, sweet, and purring,
    So happy while the tea is poured,
    So blest while spoons are stirring,
    What martyr can compare with thee,
    The mother, wife, or daughter,
    That night, instead of best Bohea,
    Condemned to milk and water!

    Ah, little dreams the quiet dame
    Who plies with rock and spindle
    The patient flax, how great a flame
    Yon little spark shall kindle!
    The lurid morning shall reveal
    A fire no king can smother
    Where British flint and Boston steel
    Have clashed against each other!
    Old charters shrivel in its track,
    His Worship's bench has crumbled,
    It climbs and clasps the union-jack,
    Its blazoned pomp is humbled,
    The flags go down on land and sea
    Like corn before the reapers;
    So burned the fire that brewed the tea
    That Boston served her keepers!

    The waves that wrought a century's wreck
    Have rolled o'er whig and tory;
    The Mohawks on the Dartmouth's deck
    Still live in song and story;
    The waters in the rebel bay
    Have kept the tea-leaf savor;
    Our old North-Enders in their spray
    Still taste a Hyson flavor;
    And Freedom's teacup still o'erflows
    With ever fresh libations,
    To cheat of slumber all her foes
    And cheer the wakening nations!

  2. Patrick Henry

    by John Townsend

    A child of nature from his birth,
    And cradled in the storm,
    His country knew his sterling worth
    In days of dread alarm.

    The first to strike the spark of war,
    The first to break the charm,
    And like the son of Hamilcar,
    The first to breast the storm.

    When Britain poured her minions forth
    In myriads o'er the flood,
    True as the needle to the north,
    Firm as a rock he stood.

    His powerful eloquence was heard
    Upon the council floor,
    Nor sword, nor death, nor gibbet feared,
    But dared the lion's roar.

    Nor did he falter on the way
    Until the work was done,—
    The tyrant owned His powerful sway,
    And trembled on his throne.

    His eloquence possessed a charm
    To change the heart of stone,
    All opposition to disarm,
    And force of reason own.

    Ye patriots, where's that spirit now,
    That braved the fire and flood?
    In Preston's eye a spark doth glow,
    And for his country's good.

  3. Paul Revere's Ride

    Paul Revere's Midnight Ride
    by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Paul Revere's heroic actions in the cause of American freedom were immortalized in this poem which recounts the story Paul Revere's midnight ride of April 18-19, 1775 to warn the Massachusetts countryside of the coming British invasion.

     Full Text

    Listen my children and you shall hear
    Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
    On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
    Hardly a man is now alive
    Who remembers that famous day and year.

    He said to his friend, "If the British march
    By land or sea from the town to-night,
    Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
    Of the North Church tower as a signal light,—
    One if by land, and two if by sea;
    And I on the opposite shore will be,
    Ready to ride and spread the alarm
    Through every Middlesex village and farm,
    For the country folk to be up and to arm."

    Then he said "Good-night!" and with muffled oar
    Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
    Just as the moon rose over the bay,
    Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
    The Somerset, British man-of-war;
    A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
    Across the moon like a prison bar,
    And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
    By its own reflection in the tide.

    Meanwhile, his friend through alley and street
    Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
    Till in the silence around him he hears
    The muster of men at the barrack door,
    The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
    And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
    Marching down to their boats on the shore.

    Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
    By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
    To the belfry chamber overhead,
    And startled the pigeons from their perch
    On the sombre rafters, that round him made
    Masses and moving shapes of shade,—
    By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
    To the highest window in the wall,
    Where he paused to listen and look down
    A moment on the roofs of the town
    And the moonlight flowing over all.

    Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
    In their night encampment on the hill,
    Wrapped in silence so deep and still
    That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread,
    The watchful night-wind, as it went
    Creeping along from tent to tent,
    And seeming to whisper, "All is well!"
    A moment only he feels the spell
    Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
    Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
    For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
    On a shadowy something far away,
    Where the river widens to meet the bay,—
    A line of black that bends and floats
    On the rising tide like a bridge of boats.

    Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
    Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
    On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
    Now he patted his horse's side,
    Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
    Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
    And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
    But mostly he watched with eager search
    The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
    As it rose above the graves on the hill,
    Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
    And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height
    A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
    He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
    But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
    A second lamp in the belfry burns.

    A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
    A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
    And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
    Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
    That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
    The fate of a nation was riding that night;
    And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
    Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
    He has left the village and mounted the steep,
    And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
    Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
    And under the alders that skirt its edge,
    Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
    Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

    It was twelve by the village clock
    When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
    He heard the crowing of the cock,
    And the barking of the farmer's dog,
    And felt the damp of the river fog,
    That rises after the sun goes down.

    It was one by the village clock,
    When he galloped into Lexington.
    He saw the gilded weathercock
    Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
    And the meeting-house windows, black and bare,
    Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
    As if they already stood aghast
    At the bloody work they would look upon.

    It was two by the village clock,
    When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
    He heard the bleating of the flock,
    And the twitter of birds among the trees,
    And felt the breath of the morning breeze
    Blowing over the meadow brown.
    And one was safe and asleep in his bed
    Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
    Who that day would be lying dead,
    Pierced by a British musket ball.

    You know the rest. In the books you have read
    How the British Regulars fired and fled,—
    How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
    From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
    Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
    Then crossing the fields to emerge again
    Under the trees at the turn of the road,
    And only pausing to fire and load.

    So through the night rode Paul Revere;
    And so through the night went his cry of alarm
    To every Middlesex village and farm,—
    A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
    A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
    And a word that shall echo for evermore!
    For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
    Through all our history, to the last,
    In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
    The people will waken and listen to hear
    The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
    And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

    More information at "The Paul Revere House"

    The eyes of all America are upon us. As we play our part posterity will bless or curse us.

    – Henry Knox, officer of the Continental Army
    written after the Declaration of Independence in 1776

  4. Lexington

    by Oliver Wendell Holmes

     Full Text

    Slowly the mist o'er the meadow was creeping,
    Bright on the dewy buds glistened the sun,
    When from his couch, while his children were sleeping,
    Rose the bold rebel and shouldered his gun.
    Waving her golden veil
    Over the silent dale,
    Blithe looked the morning on cottage and spire;
    Hushed was his parting sigh,
    While from his noble eye
    Flashed the last sparkle of liberty's fire.

    On the smooth green where the fresh leaf is springing
    Calmly the first-born of glory have met;
    Hark! the death-volley around them is ringing!
    Look! with their life-blood the young grass is wet!
    Faint is the feeble breath,
    Murmuring low in death,
    "Tell to our sons how their fathers have died";
    Nerveless the iron hand,
    Raised for its native land,
    Lies by the weapon that gleams at its side.

    Over the hillsides the wild knell is tolling,
    From their far hamlets the yeomanry come;
    As through the storm-clouds the thunder-burst rolling,
    Circles the beat of the mustering drum.
    Fast on the soldier's path
    Darken the waves of wrath,
    Long have they gathered and loud shall they fall;
    Red glares the musket's flash,
    Sharp rings the rifle's crash,
    Blazing and clanging from thicket and wall.

    Gayly the plume of the horseman was dancing,
    Never to shadow his cold brow again;
    Proudly at morning the war-steed was prancing,
    Reeking and panting be droops on the rein;
    Pale is the lip of scorn,
    Voiceless the trumpet horn,
    Torn is the silken-fringed red cross on high;
    Many a belted breast
    Low on the turf shall rest,
    Ere the dark hunters the herd have passed by.

    Snow-girdled crags where the hoarse wind is raving,
    Rocks where the weary floods murmur and wail,
    Wilds where the fern by the furrow is waving,
    Reeled with the echoes that rode on the gale;
    Far as the tempest thrills
    Over the darkened hills,
    Far as the sunshine streams over the plain,
    Roused by the tyrant band,
    Woke all the mighty land,
    Girded for battle, from mountain to main.

    Green be the graves where her martyrs are lying!
    Shroudless and tombless they sunk to their rest,—
    While o'er their ashes the starry fold flying
    Wraps the proud eagle they roused from his nest.
    Borne on her Northern pine,
    Long o'er the foaming brine
    Spread her broad banner to storm and to sun;
    Heaven keep her ever free
    Wide as o'er land and sea
    Floats the fair emblem her heroes have won!

  5. The Battle of Lexington

    by Sidney Lanier

     Full Text

    Now haste thee while the way is clear,
    Paul Revere!
    Haste, Dawes! but haste thee not, O Sun!
    To Lexington.

    Then Devens looked and saw the light:
    He got him forth into the night,
    And watched alone on the river-shore,
    And marked the British ferrying o'er.

    John Parker! rub thine eyes and yawn:
    But one o'clock and yet 'tis Dawn!
    Quick, rub thine eyes and draw thy hose:
    The Morning comes ere darkness goes,
    Have forth and call the yeomen out,
    For somewhere, somewhere close about
    Full soon a Thing must come to be
    Thine honest eyes shall stare to see
    Full soon before thy patriot eyes
    Freedom from out of a Wound shall rise.

    Then haste ye, Prescott and Revere!
    Bring all the men of Lincoln here;
    Let Chelmsford, Littleton, Carlisle,
    Let Acton, Bedford, hither file—
    Oh hither file, and plainly see
    Out of a wound leap Liberty.

    Say, Woodman April! all in green,
    Say, Robin April! hast thou seen
    In all thy travel round the earth
    Ever a morn of calmer birth?
    But Morning's eye alone serene
    Can gaze across yon village-green
    To where the trooping British run
    Through Lexington.

    Good men in fustian, stand ye still;
    The men in red come o'er the hill.
    Lay down your arms, damned Rebels! cry
    The men in red full haughtily.
    But never a grounding gun is heard;
    The men in fustian stand unstirred;
    Dead calm, save maybe a wise bluebird
    Puts in his little heavenly word.

    O men in red! if ye but knew
    The half as much as bluebirds do,
    Now in this little tender calm
    Each hand would out, and every palm
    With patriot palm strike brotherhood's stroke
    Or ere these lines of battle broke.

    O men in red! if ye but knew
    The least of the all that bluebirds do,
    Now in this little godly calm
    Yon voice might sing the Future's Psalm—
    The Psalm of Love with the brotherly eyes
    Who pardons and is very wise—
    Yon voice that shouts, high-hoarse with ire,

    The redcoats fire, the homespuns fall:
    The homespuns' anxious voices call,
    Brother, art hurt? and Where hit, John?
    And, Wipe this blood, and Men, come on,
    And Neighbor, do but lift my head,
    And Who is wounded? Who is dead?
    Seven are killed. My God! my God!
    Seven lie dead on the village sod.
    Two Harringtons, Parker, Hadley, Brown,
    Munroe and Porter,—these are down.
    Nay, look! stout Harrington not yet dead!

    He crooks his elbow, lifts his head.
    He lies at the step of his own house-door;
    He crawls and makes a path of gore.
    The wife from the window hath seen, and rushed;
    He hath reached the step, but the glood hath gushed;
    He hath crawled to the step of his own house-door,
    But his head hath dropped: he will crawl no more.
    Clasp, Wife, and kiss, and lift the head:
    Harrington lies at his door-step dead.

    But, O ye Six that round him lay
    And bloodied up that April day!
    As Harrington fell, ye likewise fell—
    At the door of the House wherein ye dwell;
    As Harrington came, ye likewise came
    And died at the door of your House of Fame.

  6. Lexington

    by Floyd D. Raze

     Full Text

    Revere had brought the warning, and had galloped on his way;
    With red and gold the eastern sky illumed the blue of day,
    When up the narrow street
    Came the steady tramp of feet,
    For the Redcoats march to Lexington this morning.

    There is Pitcairn on his charger, and the Colonel at his side,
    With swords and buckles all agleam, how gaily do they ride!
    With their militant array,
    Pressing onward Concord way,
    They are passing into Lexington this morning.

    The Minute-men are forming, they have gathered on the square,
    They can see the English banners waving gaily in the air—
    They can see the sword and gun
    Gleam and glitter in the sun,
    While the Redcoats march upon them in the morning.

    Still they wait upon the common, wait immovable and dumb,
    Watching Pitcairn and his soldiers as they near and nearer come;
    They have heard the sharp command,
    Yet immovable they stand
    While the Britons form for battle in the morning.

    They have heard the muskets' rattle; they have heard the Major's curse.
    Are they "villains?" Are they "traitors?" and as such shall they disperse?
    Not a man will turn away
    Like a coward in dismay—
    They are facing death defiantly this morning.

    The Major draws his pistol, it has sounded through the air.
    A hundred guns are leveled, but the "villains" still are there—
    They await the Major's ire
    But an instant, and his "Fire!"
    Comes plainly o'er the commons in the morning.

    A hundred guns have answered in a bellow fierce and loud;
    A hundred wreaths of smoke converge to form the battle cloud
    That has hovered o'er the green,
    To obscure the bloody scene
    From the face of heaven smiling in the morning.

    There is Pitcairn on his charger, and the Colonel at his side,
    With swords and buckles all agleam, while onward now they ride,
    Past the commons dyed with red,
    Past the heroes lying dead,
    Marching gaily on toward Concord in the morning.

  7. Concord Hymn

    The Shot Heard 'Round the World
    The Shot Heard 'Round the World
    by Domenick D'Andrea
    for the National Guard Heritage Series
    by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Sung at the Completion of the Battle Monument, July 4, 1837

     Full Text

    By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
    Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
    Here once the embattled farmers stood
    And fired the shot heard round the world.

    The foe long since in silence slept;
    Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
    And Time the ruined bridge has swept
    Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

    On this green bank, by this soft stream,
    We set today a votive stone;
    That memory may their deed redeem,
    When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

    Spirit, that made those heroes dare
    To die, and leave their children free,
    Bid Time and Nature gently spare
    The shaft we raise to them and thee.

  8. The Minute-Man

    by Dora B. Hunter

    With his eager, resolute eyes aglow,
    Alert for a glimpse of the nearing foe,
    With his sturdy shoulder backward thrown,
    Facing odds that he dare not own,
    Ready to start at the country's call,
    To win if God will—if He will, to fall,
    Whatever may cost the impending strife,
    Home or fortune or limb or life—
    Ready to give what the hour demands,
    The hero of Concord's story stands.

    Just as they stood on that April morn
    When American liberty there was born;
    Plows beside them, but arms in hand—
    They, the Middlesex farmer-band.
    Who dared to dream that these scattered groups
    Could rout the orderly British troops?
    That these farmer youth half-armed, untrained,
    Could keep the fame of their State unstained?
    But when His Majesty's soldiers came
    To the spot now wearing so proud a name,
    The minute-men marched down from the ridge
    And won the day at the old North Bridge.

    Concord river in quiet flows
    Past the spot where the English dead repose,
    And one hundred years has that night's renown
    Been the heritage of the peaceful town.
    Along the stream the historic sod
    Is bright with daisies and golden-rod,
    With never a hint of the bloody fight
    That was won by the Concord yeomen's might.

    But the minute-man is standing now
    In his valor's strength, beside his plow,
    On the spot where he fought at his country's call
    A grateful people's memorial.
    Does any one ask his rank or worth,
    His fortune, family, name or birth?
    This was a lad whose brave right arm,
    Raised in the moment of dire alarm,
    When first the sound of the foeman's gun
    Resounded through Concord and Lexington,
    Ne'er fell to his side till in dawn's gray light
    The patriot farmers had won the fight.
    But his name—his name—do you ask again?
    He was one of the famous minute-men!

  9. The Rising

    by Thomas Buchanan Read. The following selection is abridged from "The Wagoner of the Alleghanies."

     Full Text

    Out of the North the wild news came,
    Far flashing on its wings of flame,
    Swift as the boreal light which flies
    At midnight through the startled skies.

    And there was tumult in the air,
    The fife's shrill note, the drum's loud beat,
    And through the wide land everywhere
    The answering tread of hurrying feet,
    While the first oath of Freedom's gun
    Came on the blast from Lexington.
    And Concord, roused, no longer tame,
    Forgot her old baptismal name,
    Made bare her patriot arm of power,
    And swelled the discord of the hour.

    The yeoman and the yoeman's son,
    With knitted brows and sturdy dint,
    Renewed the polish of each gun,
    Recoiled the lock, reset the flint;
    And oft the maid and matron there,
    While kneeling in the firelight glare,
    Long poured, with half-suspended breath,
    The lead into the molds of death.

    The hands by Heaven made silken soft
    To soothe the brow of love or pain,
    Alas! are dulled and soiled too oft
    By some unhallowed earthly stain;
    But under the celestial bound
    No nobler picture can be found
    Than woman, brave in word and deed,
    Thus serving in her nation's need:
    Her love is with her country now,
    Her hand is on its aching brow.

    Within its shade of elm and oak
    The church of Berkley Manor stood:
    There Sunday found the rural folk,
    And some esteemed of gentle blood,
    In vain their feet with loitering tread
    Passed 'mid the graves where rank is naught:
    All could not read the lesson taught
    In that republic of the dead.

    The pastor rose: the prayer was strong;
    The psalm was warrior David's song;
    The text, a few short words of might,—
    "The Lord of hosts shall arm the right!"

    He spoke of wrongs too long endured,
    Of sacred rights to be secured;
    Then from his patriot tongue of flame
    The startling words for Freedom came.
    The stirring sentences he spake
    Compelled the heart to glow or quake,
    And, rising on his theme's broad wing,
    And grasping in his nervous hand
    The imaginary battle brand,
    In face of death he dared to fling
    Defiance to a tyrant king.

    Even as he spoke, his frame, renewed
    In eloquence of attitude,
    Rose, as it seemed, a shoulder higher;
    Then swept his kindling glance of fire
    From startled pew to breathless choir;
    When suddenly his mantle wide
    His hands impatient flung aside,
    And, lo! he met their wondering eyes
    Complete in all a warrior's guise.

    A moment there was awful pause,—
    When Berkley cried, "Cease, traitor! cease!
    God's temple is the house of peace!"
    The other shouted, "Nay, not so,
    When God is with our righteous cause:
    His holiest places then are ours,
    His temples are our forts and towers
    That frown upon the tyrant foe:
    In this the dawn of Freedom's day
    There is a time to fight and pray!"

    And now before the open door—
    The warrior priest had ordered so—
    The enlisting trumpet's sudden soar
    Rang through the chapel, o'er and o'er,
    Its long reverberating blow,
    So loud and clear, it seemed the ear
    Of dusty death must wake and hear.
    And there the startling drum and fife
    Fired the living with fiercer life;
    While overhead with wild increase,
    Forgetting its ancient toll of peace,
    The great bell swung as ne'er before:
    It seemed as it would never cease;
    And every word its ardor flung
    From off its jubilant iron tongue
    Was, "WAR! WAR! WAR!"

    "Who dares"—this was the patriot's cry,
    As striding from the desk he came—
    "Come out with me, in Freedom's name,
    For her to live, for her to die?"
    A hundred hands flung up reply,
    A hundred voices answered "I!"

  10. Ticonderoga

    by V. B. Wilson

     Full Text

    The cold, gray light of the dawning
    On old Carillon falls,
    And dim in the mist of the morning
    Stand the grim old fortress walls.
    No sound disturbs the stillness
    Save the cataract’s mellow roar,
    Silent as death is the fortress,
    Silent the misty shore.

    But up from the wakening waters
    Comes the cool, fresh morning breeze,
    Lifting the banner of Britain,
    And whispering to the trees
    Of the swift gliding boats on the waters
    That are nearing the fog-shrouded land,
    With the old Green Mountain Lion,
    And his daring patriot band.

    But the sentinel at the postern
    Heard not the whisper low;
    He is dreaming of the banks of the Shannon
    As he walks on his beat to and fro,
    Of the starry eyes in Green Erin
    That were dim when he marched away,
    And a tear down his bronzed cheek courses,
    ’T is the first for many a day.

    A sound breaks the misty stillness,
    And quickly he glances around;
    Through the mist, forms like towering giants
    Seem rising out of the ground;
    A challenge, the firelock flashes,
    A sword cleaves the quivering air,
    And the sentry lies dead by the postern,
    Blood staining his bright yellow hair.

    Then with a shout that awakens
    All the echoes of hillside and glen,
    Through the low, frowning gate of the fortress,
    Sword in hand, rush the Green Mountain men.
    The scarce wakened troops of the garrison
    Yield up their trust pale with fear;
    And down comes the bright British banner,
    And out rings a Green Mountain cheer.

    Flushed with pride, the whole eastern heavens
    With crimson and gold are ablaze;
    And up springs the sun in his splendor
    And flings down his arrowy rays,
    Bathing in sunlight the fortress,
    Turning to gold the grim walls,
    While louder and clearer and higher
    Rings the song of the waterfalls.

    Since the taking of Ticonderoga
    A century has rolled away;
    But with pride the nation remembers
    That glorious morning in May.
    And the cataracts’ silvery music
    Forever the story tells,
    Of the capture of old Carillon,
    The chime of the silver bells.

  11. The Battle of Bunker's Hill

    by F. S. Cozzens

     Full Text

    It was a starry night in June, the air was soft and still,
    When the "minute-men" from Cambridge came, and gathered on the hill;
    Beneath us lay the sleeping town, around us frowned the fleet,
    But the pulse of freemen, not of slaves, within our bosoms beat;
    And every heart rose high with hope, as fearlessly we said,
    "We will be numbered with the free, or numbered with the dead!"

    "Bring out the line to mark the trench, and stretch it on the sward!"
    The trench is marked, the tools are brought, we utter not a word,
    But stack our guns, then fall to work with mattock and with spade,
    A thousand men with sinewy arms, and not a sound is made;
    So still were we, the stars beneath, that scarce a whisper fell;
    We heard the red-coat's musket click, and heard him cry, "All's well!"

    See how the morn, is breaking; the red is in the sky!
    The mist is creeping from the stream that floats in silence by;
    The "Lively's" hall looms through the fog, and they our works have spied,
    For the ruddy flash and round-shot part in thunder from her side;
    And the "Falcon" and the "Cerberus" make every bosom thrill,
    With gun and shell, and drum and bell, and boatswain's whistle shrill;
    But deep and wider grows the trench, as spade and mattock ply,
    For we have to cope with fearful odds, and the time is drawing nigh!

    Up with the pine-tree banner! Our gallant Prescott stands
    Amid the plunging shells and shot, and plants it with his hands;
    Up with the shout! for Putnam comes upon his reeking bay,
    With bloody spur and foaming bit, in haste to join the fray.
    But thou whose soul is glowing in the summer of thy years,
    Unvanquishable Warren, thou, the youngest of thy peers,
    Wert born and bred, and shaped and made, to act a patriot's part,
    And dear to us thy presence is as heart's blood to the heart!

    Hark! from the town a trumpet! The barges at the wharf
    Are crowded with the living freight; and now they're pushing off;
    With clash and glitter, trump and drum, in all its bright array,
    Behold the splendid sacrifice move slowly o'er the bay!
    And still and still the barges fill, and still across the deep,
    Like thunder clouds along the sky, the hostile transports sweep.

    And now they're forming at the Point; and now the lines advance:
    We see beneath the sultry sun their polished bayonets glance;
    We hear anear the throbbing drum, the bugle-challenge ring;
    Quick bursts and loud the flashing cloud, and rolls from wing to wing;
    But on the height our bulwark stands, tremendous in its gloom,—
    As sullen as a tropic sky, and silent as a tomb.

    And so we waited till we saw, at scarce ten rifles' length,
    The old vindictive Saxon spite, in all its stubborn strength;
    When sudden, flash on flash, around the jagged rampart burst
    From every gun the livid light upon the foe accursed.
    Then quailed a monarch's might before a free-born people's ire;
    Then drank the sward the veteran's life, where swept the yeoman's fire.

    Then, staggered by the shot, he saw their serried columns reel,
    And fall, as falls the bearded rye beneath the reaper's steel;
    And then arose a mighty shout that might have waked the dead,—
    "Hurrah! they run! the field is won! Hurrah! the foe is fled!"
    And every man hath dropped his gun to clutch a neighbor's hand,
    As his heart kept praying all the while for home and native land.

    Thrice on that day we stood the shock of thrice a thousand foes,
    And thrice that day within our lines the shout of victory rose;
    And though our swift fire slackened then, and, reddening in the skies,
    We saw from Charlestown's roofs and walls the flamy columns rise,
    Yet while we had a cartridge left, we still maintained the fight,
    Nor gained the foe one foot of ground upon that blood-stained height.

    What though for us no laurels bloom, and o'er the nameless brave
    No sculptured trophy, scroll, nor hatch records a warrior grave!
    What though the day to us was lost!—upon that deathless page
    The everlasting charter stands for every land and age!

    For man hath broke his felon bonds, and cast them in the dust,
    And claimed his heritage divine, and justified the trust;
    While through his rifted prison-bars the hues of freedom pour,
    O'er every nation, race and clime, on every sea and shore,
    Such glories as the patriarch viewed, when, mid the darkest skies,
    He saw above a ruined world the Bow of Promise rise.

  12. Bunker Hill

    by Floyd D. Raze

     Full Text

    There was Howe within the valley,
    He alone could lead them on;
    And behind him marched the stormers,
    At an early hour of dawn.
    'Cross the valley, up the hillside,
    At the nooning of the day,
    Where behind the rude abattis
    The embattled farmers lay.

    There was Prescott on the hilltop,
    Standing on the wall alone,
    While below him lay his rebels,
    Little feared, and all unknown.
    There was Warren in the trenches,
    Passing 'round from man to man,
    Smiling as he paused to watch them
    Sift the powder in the pan.

    Deep and fast the ships' guns bellowed,
    Ball and shell screamed up the way,
    Tore away the rude abattis
    Where the rebel farmers lay.
    There was Stark to guard the lowlands,
    Where the Mystic gurgles still,
    Stark behind the hay-thatched breastworks
    On the slopes of Bunker Hill.

    Time and time the English stormers
    Turned their faces toward the foe—
    Black as hell the musket muzzles
    Frowned above them, row on row;
    Waited ominously for them,
    Waited, till beyond recall,
    They should pass into the shadow
    Of that grim and silent wall.

    Time and time those gruesome muzzles
    Leapt from darkness into light;
    Time and time the black smoke lowered
    To obscure the bloody sight;
    Then again a fearful silence—
    There in windrows, stiff and still,
    Lay the valiant English stormers
    On the slopes of Bunker Hill.

    There was Howe within the valley,
    Urging on a new attack;
    There was Prescott on the hilltop
    Striving hard to beat them back;
    There, the city black and blazing,
    Here the hill all steeped in red,
    There, too, lay the noble Warren,
    In the rebel trenches, dead.

    Time and time the world has listened
    To the story often told,
    To the story of oppression,
    And the tyranny of old.
    Though the battle's roar is ended,
    Loud its echo ranges still—
    'Tis the voice of Freedom thund'ring
    From the slopes of Bunker Hill.

  13. Warren's Address

    Madame Rousseau and Daughter
    The Battle of Bunker's Hill, June 17, 1775
    by John Trumbull
    by John Pierpont

     Full Text

    Stand! the ground's your own, my braves!
    Will ye give it up to slaves?
    Will ye look for greener graves?
    Hope ye mercy still? What's the mercy despots feel?
    Hear it in that battle-peal!
    Read it on yon bristling steel!
    Ask it,—ye who will.

    Fear ye foes who kill for hire?
    Will ye to your homes retire?
    Look behind you! they're afire!
    And, before you, see Who have done it!—From the vale
    On they come!—And will ye quail?—
    Leaden rain and iron hail
    Let their welcome be!

    In the God of battles trust!
    Die we may,—and die we must;
    But, O, where can dust to dust
    Be consigned so well,
    As where Heaven its dews shall shed
    On the martyred patriot's bed,
    And the rocks shall raise their head,
    Of his deeds to tell!

  14. The Prayer on Bunker's Hill

    by Lydia Sigourney. During the battle of Bunker's Hill, a venerable clergyman of Massachusetts, knelt on the field, with hands upraised, and grey head uncovered, and while the bullets whistled around him, prayed for the success of his people.

     Full Text

    It was an hour of fear and dread,
    High rose the battle cry,
    And round in heavy volumes spread
    The war-cloud to the sky.

    'Twas not, as when in rival strength,
    Contending nations meet,
    Or love of conquest madly hurls
    A monarch from his seat.

    But many a warm cemented tie,
    Was riven in anguish wild,
    Ere with a foe-man's vengeful eye
    The parent met the child.

    O'er the green hill's beleagur'd breast,
    Swept on the conflict high,
    And many a gallant leader prest
    The trampled turf to die.

    Yet one was there unus'd to tread,
    The path of mortal strife,
    Who but the Saviour's flock had led
    Beside the fount of life.

    He knelt him where the black smoke wreath'd
    His head was bow'd and bare,
    While for an infant land, he breath'd
    The agony of prayer.

    The shafts of death flew thick and fast,
    'Mid shrieks of ire and pain,
    Wide wav'd his white locks on the blast,
    And round him fell the slain.

    Yet still with fervency intense
    He prest the endanger'd spot,
    The selfish thought, the shrinking sense
    O'ermaster'd, and forgot.

    'Twould seem as if a marble form
    Wrought in some quarried height,
    Stood fix'd amid thai battle storm,
    Save that the eye was bright.

    Save that the deeply-heaving breast,
    The hand uprais'd in air,
    The smile, yet moving lips, exprest
    That strong life wrestled there.

    Then loud upon their native soil,
    Peal'd forth their victor's cry,
    And thinn'd beneath the desperate toil,
    The wearied host swept by.

    But 'mid that strange and fierce delight,
    A chief of other days.
    Gave up your falchions broad and bright,
    Your own light arms the praise.

    Or thought ye still how many a prayer,
    Amid the deathful fray,
    From cottage homes, and heads of care,
    Rose up for you that day?

    The column red with early morn,
    May tower o'er Bunker's height,
    And proudly till a race unborn
    Their patriot father's might.

    But thou, oh patriot, old and grey,
    Thou prophet of the free,
    Who knelt amid the dead, that day,
    What fame shall rise to thee?

    It is not meet that brass or stone,
    Which feel the touch of time,
    Should keep the record of a faith
    That woke thy deed sublime.

    We trace it on a tablet fair
    Which glows when stars wax pale,
    A promise that the good man's prayer
    Shall with his God prevail.

  15. Battle of Trenton

    Washington Crossing the Delaware
    Washington Crossing the Delaware
    by Emanuel Leutze
    by Anonymous

     Full Text

    On Christmas-day in seventy-six,
    Our ragged troops with bayonets fixed,
    For Trenton marched away.
    The Delaware see! the boats below!
    The light obscured by hail and snow!
    But no signs of dismay.

    Our object was the Hessian band,
    That dared invade fair freedom's land,
    And quarter in that place.
    Great Washington he led us on,
    Whose streaming flag, in storm or sun,
    Had never known disgrace.

    In silent march we passed the night,
    Each soldier panting for the fight,
    Though quite benumbed with frost.
    Greene on the left at six began,
    The right was led by Sullivan,
    Who ne'er a moment lost.

    Their pickets stormed, the alarm was spread,
    That rebels risen from the dead
    Were marching into town.
    Some scampered here, some scampered there,
    And some for action did prepare;
    But soon their arms laid down,

    Twelve hundred servile miscreants,
    With all their colors, guns, and tents,
    Were trophies of the day.
    The frolic o'er, the bright canteen
    In centre, front, and rear was seen
    Driving fatigue away.

    Now, brothers of the patriot bands,
    Let's sing deliverance from the hands
    Of arbitrary sway.
    And as our life is but a span,
    Let's touch the tankard while we can,
    In memory of that day.

  16. Across the Delaware

    by Will Carleton

    The winter night is cold and drear,
    Along the river's sullen flow;
    The cruel frost is camping here —
    The air has living blades of snow.
    Look! pushing from the icy strand,
    With ensigns freezing in the air,
    There sails a small but mighty band,
    Across the dang'rous Delaware.

    Oh, wherefore, soldiers, would you fight
    The bayonets of a winter storm?
    In truth it were a better night
    For blazing fire and blankets warm!
    We seek to trap a foreign foe,
    Who fill themselves with stolen fare;
    We carry freedom as we go
    Across the storm-swept Delaware!

    The night is full of lusty cheer
    Within the Hessians' merry camp;
    And faint and fainter on the ear
    Doth fall the heedless sentry's tramp.
    O hirelings, this new nation's rage
    Is something 't is not well to dare;
    You are not fitted to engage
    These men from o'er the Delaware!

    A rush — a shout — a clarion call,
    Salute the early morning's gray:
    Now, roused invaders, yield or fall:
    The refuge-land has won the day!
    Soon shall the glorious news be hurled
    Wherever men have wrongs to bear;
    For freedom's torch illumes the world,
    And God has crossed the Delaware!

  17. Valley Forge

    George Washington and Lafayette at Valley Forge
    George Washington and Lafayette at Valley Forge
    by John Ward Dunsmore
    by Thomas Buchanan Read

     Full Text

    O’er town and cottage, vale and height,
    Down came the Winter, fierce and white,
    And shuddering wildly, as distraught
    At horrors his own hand had wrought.

    His child, the young Year, newly born,
    Cheerless, cowering, and affrighted,
    Wailed with a shivering voice forlorn,
    As on a frozen heath benighted.
    In vain the hearths were set aglow,
    In vain the evening lamps were lighted,
    To cheer the dreary realm of snow:
    Old Winter’s brow would not be smoothed,
    Nor the young Year’s wailing soothed.

    How sad the wretch at morn or eve
    Compelled his starving home to leave,
    Who, plunged breast-deep from drift to drift,
    Toils slowly on from rift to rift,
    Still hearing in his aching ear
    The cry his fancy whispers near,
    Of little ones who weep for bread
    Within an ill-provided shed!

    But wilder, fiercer, sadder still,
    Freezing the tear it caused to start,
    Was the inevitable chill
    Which pierced a nation’s agued heart,—
    A nation with its naked breast
    Against the frozen barriers prest,
    Heaving its tedious way and slow
    Through shifting gulfs and drifts of woe,
    Where every blast that whistled by
    Was bitter with its children’s cry.

    Such was the winter’s awful sight
    For many a dreary day and night,
    What time our country’s hope forlorn,
    Of every needed comfort shorn,
    Lay housed within a hurried tent,
    Where every keen blast found a rent,
    And oft the snow was seen to sift
    Along the floor its piling drift,
    Or, mocking the scant blankets’ fold,
    Across the night-couch frequent rolled;
    Where every path by a soldier beat,
    Or every track where a sentinel stood,
    Still held the print of naked feet,
    And oft the crimson stains of blood;
    Where Famine held her spectral court,
    And joined by all her fierce allies:
    She ever loved a camp or fort
    Beleaguered by the wintry skies,—
    But chiefly when Disease is by,
    To sink the frame and dim the eye,
    Until, with seeking forehead bent,
    In martial garments cold and damp,
    Pale Death patrols from tent to tent,
    To count the charnels of the camp.

    Such was the winter that prevailed
    Within the crowded, frozen gorge;
    Such were the horrors that assailed
    The patriot band at Valley Forge.

    It was a midnight storm of woes
    To clear the sky for Freedom’s morn;
    And such must ever be the throes
    The hour when Liberty is born.

    The chieftain, by his evening lamp,
    Whose flame scarce cheered the hazy damp,
    Sat toiling o’er some giant plan,
    With maps and charts before him spread,
    Beholding in his warrior scan
    The paths which through the future led.

  18. Song of Marion's Men

    by William Cullen Bryant

     Full Text

    Our band is few, but true and tried,
    Our leader frank and bold;
    The British soldier trembles
    When Marion's name is told.
    Our fortress is the good greenwood,
    Our tent the cypress-tree;
    We know the forest round us,
    As seamen know the sea;
    We know its walks of thorny vines,
    Its glades of reedy grass,
    Its safe and silent islands
    Within the dark morass.

    Woe to the English soldiery
    That little dread us near!
    On them shall light at midnight
    A strange and sudden fear;
    When, waking to their tents on fire,
    They grasp their arms in vain,
    And they who stand to face us
    Are beat to earth again;
    And they who fly in terror deem
    A mighty host behind,
    And hear the tramp of thousands
    Upon the hollow wind.

    Then sweet the hour that brings release
    From danger and from toil;
    We talk the battle over,
    And share the battle's spoil.
    The woodland rings with laugh and shout,
    As if a hunt were up,
    And woodland flowers are gathered
    To crown the soldier's cup.
    With merry songs we mock the wind
    That in the pine-top grieves,
    And slumber long and sweetly
    On beds of oaken leaves.

    Well knows the fair and friendly moon
    The band that Marion leads-
    The glitter of their rifles,
    The scampering of their steeds.
    'Tis life to guide the fiery barb
    Across the moonlight plain;
    'Tis life to feel the night-wind
    That lifts his tossing mane.
    A moment in the British camp-
    A moment — and away,
    Back to the pathless forest,
    Before the peep of day.

    Grave men there are by broad Santee,
    Grave men with hoary hairs;
    Their hearts are all with Marion,
    For Marion are their prayers.
    And lovely ladies greet our band,
    With kindest welcoming,
    With smiles like those of summer,
    And tears like those of spring.
    For them we wear these trusty arms,
    And lay them down no more
    Till we have driven the Briton,
    Forever, from our shore.

  19. A Hero of the Revolution

    by George Pope Morris

     Full Text

    Let not a tear be shed!
    Of grief give not a token,
    Although the silver thread
    And golden bowl be broken!
    A warrior lived—a Christian died!
    Sorrow's forgotten in our pride!

    Go, bring his battle-blade,
    His helmet and his plume!
    And be his trophies laid
    Beside him in the tomb,
    Where files of time-marked veterans come
    With martial tramp and muffled drum!

    Give to the earth his frame,
    To moulder and decay;
    But not his deathless name—
    That can not pass away!
    In youth, in manhood, and in age,
    He dignified his country's page!

    Green be the willow-bough
    Above the swelling mound,
    Where sleeps the hero now
    In consecrated ground:
    Thy epitaph, O Delavan!
    God's noblest work—an honest man!

  20. The Message of the Liberty Bell

    by Mrs. Elvira Robinson

     Full Text

    Around the congress with closed door
    Thousands of anxious people pour
    To wait till all suspense be o'er.

    And still above the bellman waits
    The slow decision of the fates,
    While fears depress and hope elates.

    "Passed, it has passed," at length they cry,
    Ten thousand glad mouths make reply,
    And send the echoes to the sky.

    "Ring! ring!" exclaims the watching boy;
    The bell responds with notes of joy.
    Freedom's proclaim its sweet employ.

    Loud and more loud the proud notes swell,
    The people's shouts responding well,
    All o'er the land the glad news tell.

    From sea to sea, from pole to pole,
    The echoes of that bell shall roll,
    Till freedom comes to every soul.

  21. Seventy-Six

    by William Cullen Bryant

     Full Text

    What heroes from the woodland sprung,
    When, through the fresh awakened land,
    The thrilling cry of freedom rung,
    And to the work of warfare strung
    The yeoman's iron hand!

    Hills flung the cry to hills around,
    And ocean-mart replied to mart,
    And streams, whose springs were yet unfound
    Pealed far away the starling sound
    Into the forest's heart.

    Then marched the brave from rocky steep,
    From mountain river swift and cold;
    The borders of the stormy deep,
    The vales where gathered waters sleep,
    Sent up the strong and bold.

    As if the very earth again
    Grew quick with God's creating breath
    And, from the sods of grove and glen,
    Rose ranks of lion-hearted men
    To battle to the death.

    The wife, whose babe first smiled that day
    The fair fond bride of yestereve,
    And aged sire and matron gray,
    Saw the loved warriors haste away,
    And deemed it sin to grieve.

    Already had the strife begun;
    Already blood on Concord's plain
    Along the springing grass had run,
    And blood had flowed at Lexington,
    Like brooks of April rain.

    That death-stain on the vernal sward
    Hallowed to freedom all the shore;
    In fragments fell the yoke abhorred—
    The footstep of a foreign lord
    Profaned the soil no more.

  22. Betsy's Battle Flag

    Betsy Ross showing Major Ross and Robert Morris how she cut the stars for the American flag.  George Washington sits in a chair on the left.
    Betsy Ross 1777
    by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris
    by Minna Irving

     Full Text

    From dusk till dawn the livelong night
    She kept the tallow dips alight,
    And fast her nimble fingers flew
    To sew the stars upon the blue.
    With weary eyes and aching head
    She stitched the stripes of white and red,
    And when the day came up the stair
    Complete across a carven chair
    Hung Betsy’s battle flag.

    Like shadows in the evening gray
    The Continentals filed away,
    With broken boots and ragged coats,
    But hoarse defiance in their throats;
    They bore the marks of want and cold,
    And some were lame and some were old,
    And some with wounds untended bled,
    But floating bravely overhead
    Was Betsy’s battle flag.

    When fell the battle’s leaden rain,
    The soldier hushed his moans of pain
    And raised his dying head to see
    King George’s troopers turn and flee.
    Their charging column reeled and broke,
    And vanished in the rolling smoke,
    Before the glory of the stars,
    The snowy stripes, and scarlet bars
    Of Betsy’s battle flag.

    The simple stone of Betsy Ross
    Is covered now with mold and moss,
    But still her deathless banner flies,
    And keeps the color of the skies.
    A nation thrills, a nation bleeds,
    A nation follows where it leads,
    And every man is proud to yield
    His life upon a crimson field
    For Betsy’s battle flag!

  23. Great Washington

    by Annette Wynne

    Great Washington,
    O, to be a worthy son
    To you, to hear the clarion call
    Of home and country over all,
    And to answer it like you,
    Standing firm and staunch and true,
    Head erect, and facing foe,
    Strong in weal and strong in woe,
    In my country's need;
    O, to be indeed
    A worthy son
    To you, great Washington!

  24. George Washington

    General George Washington Resigning His Commission
    General George Washington Resigning His Commission
    by John Trumbull
    by James Russell Lowell

    Soldier and statesman, rarest unison;
    High-poised example of great duties done
    Simply as breathing, a world’s honors worn
    As life’s indifferent gifts to all men born;
    Dumb for himself, unless it were to God,
    But for his barefoot soldiers eloquent,
    Tramping the snow to coral where they trod,
    Held by his awe in hollow-eyed content;
    Modest, yet firm as Nature’s self; unblamed
    Save by the men his nobler temper shamed;
    Never seduced through show of present good
    By other than unsetting lights to steer
    New-trimmed in Heaven, nor than his steadfast mood
    More steadfast, far from rashness as from fear,
    Rigid, but with himself first, grasping still
    In swerveless poise the wave-beat helm of will;
    Not honored then or now because he wooed
    The popular voice, but that he still withstood;
    Broad-minded, higher-souled, there is but one
    Who was all this and ours, and all men’s—WASHINGTON.

    “first in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countryman”

    – Henry "Light-Horse Harry" Lee on Washington
    Henry Lee was a cavalry officer in the Continental Army and father of Confederate general Robert E. Lee

    WASHINGTON is the mightiest name of earth. Long since mightiest in the cause of civil liberty; still mightiest in moral reformation. On that name no eulogy is expected. It cannot be. To add brightness to the sun, or glory to the fame of Washington, is alike impossible. Let none attempt it. In solemn awe pronounce the name and in its naked, deathless splendor leave it shining on.

    – Abraham Lincoln

  25. The Divine Source of Liberty

    Portrait of Samuel Adams
    by John Singleton Copley
    by Samuel Adams. Samuel Adams was an American statesman, political philosopher, Founding Father, and second cousin to 2nd President of the United States, John Adams. He helped to shape the principles and foundations of American Government. In this poem, he expresses his thoughts on the source and authority of the liberty in America he wished to defend.

    All temporal power is of God,
    And the magistratal, His institution, laud,
    To but advance creaturely happiness aubaud:
    Let us then affirm the Source of Liberty.

    Ever agreeable to the nature and will,
    Of the Supreme and Guardian of all yet still
    Employed for our rights and freedom's thrill:
    Thus proves the only Source of Liberty.

    Though our civil joy is surely expressed
    Through hearth, and home, and church manifest,
    Yet this too shall be a nation's true test:
    To acknowledge the divine Source of Liberty.

  26. Nathan Hale

    by Francis Miles Finch

     Full Text

    To drum-beat and heart-beat,
    A soldier marches by:
    There is color in his cheek,
    There is courage in his eye,
    Yet to drum-beat and heart-beat
    In a moment he must die.

    By starlight and moonlight,
    He seeks the Briton's camp;
    He hears the rustling flag,
    And the armed sentry's tramp;
    And the starlight and moonlight
    His silent wanderings lamp.

    With slow tread and still tread,
    He scans the tented line;
    And he counts the battery guns
    By the gaunt and shadowy pine;
    And his slow tread and still tread
    Gives no warning sign.

    The dark wave, the plumed wave,
    It meets his eager glance;
    And it sparkles 'neath the stars,
    Like the glimmer of a lance—
    A dark wave, a plumed wave,
    On an emerald expanse.

    A sharp clang, a steel clang,
    And terror in the sound!
    For the sentry, falcon-eyed,
    In the camp a spy hath found;
    With a sharp clang, a steel clang,
    The patriot is bound.

    With calm brow, steady brow,
    He listens to his doom;
    In his look there is no fear,
    Nor a shadow-trace of gloom;
    But with calm brow and steady brow
    He robes him for the tomb.

    In the long night, the still night,
    He kneels upon the sod;
    And the brutal guards withhold
    E'en the solemn Word of God!
    In the long night, the still night,
    He walks where Christ hath trod.

    'Neath the blue morn, the sunny morn,
    He dies upon the tree;
    And he mourns that he can lose
    But one life for Liberty;
    And in the blue morn, the sunny morn,
    His spirit-wings are free.

    But his last words, his message-words,
    They burn, lest friendly eye
    Should read how proud and calm
    A patriot could die,
    With his last words, his dying words,
    A soldier's battle-cry.

    From the Fame-leaf and Angel-leaf,
    From monument and urn,
    The sad of earth, the glad of heaven,
    His tragic fate shall learn;
    And on Fame-leaf and Angel-leaf
    The name of HALE shall burn.

    “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.”

    – Nathan Hale
    Hale's famous last words before before being hanged by the British.
  27. Molly Maguire at Monmouth

    Molly "Pitcher" Maguire at Monmouth
    Molly Pitcher
    by George Alfred Williams
    by Anonymous. Note: One source attributes this poem to the English poet William Collins, however, this is not possible considering William Collins died before the Battle of Monmouth took place.

     Full Text

    On the bloody field of Monmouth
    Flashed the guns of Greene and Wayne,
    Fiercely roared the tide of battle,
    Thick the sward was heaped with slain.
    Foremost, facing death and danger,
    Hessian, horse, and grenadier,
    In the vanguard, fiercely fighting,
    Stood an Irish Cannonier.

    Loudly roared his iron cannon,
    Mingling ever in the strife,
    And beside him, firm and daring,
    Stood his faithful Irish wife.
    Of her bold contempt of danger
    Greene and Lee’s Brigades could tell,
    Every one knew “Captain Molly,”
    And the army loved her well.

    Surged the roar of battle round them,
    Swiftly flew the iron hail,
    Forward dashed a thousand bayonets,
    That lone battery to assail.
    From the foeman’s foremost columns
    Swept a furious fusillade,
    Mowing down the massed battalions
    In the ranks of Greene’s Brigade.

    Fast and faster worked the gunner,
    Soiled with powder, blood, and dust,
    English bayonets shone before him,
    Shot and shell around him burst;
    Still he fought with reckless daring,
    Stood and manned her long and well,
    Till at last the gallant fellow
    Dead—beside his cannon fell.

    With a bitter cry of sorrow,
    And a dark and angry frown,
    Looked that band of gallant patriots
    At their gunner stricken down.
    “Fall back, comrades, it is folly
    Thus to strive against the foe.”
    “No! not so,” cried Irish Molly,
    “We can strike another blow.”

    Quickly leaped she to the cannon,
    In her fallen husband’s place,
    Sponged and rammed it fast and steady,
    Fired it in the foeman’s face.
    Flashed another ringing volley,
    Roared another from the gun;
    “Boys, hurrah!” cried gallant Molly,
    “For the flag of Washington.”

    Greene’s Brigade, though torn and shattered,
    Slain and bleeding half their men,
    When they heard that Irish slogan,
    Turned and charged the foe again.
    Knox and Wayne and Morgan rally,
    To the front they forward wheel,
    And before their rushing onset
    Clinton’s English columns reel.

    Still the cannon’s voice in anger
    Rolled and rattled o’er the plain,
    Till there lay in swarms around it
    Mangled heaps of Hessian slain.
    “Forward! charge them with the bayonet!”
    ’T was the voice of Washington,
    And there burst a fiery greeting
    From the Irish woman’s gun.

    Monckton falls; against his columns
    Leap the troops of Mayne and Lee,
    And before their reeking bayonets
    Clinton’s red battalions flee.
    Morgan’s rifles, fiercely flashing,
    Thin the foe’s retreating ranks,
    And behind them onward dashing
    Ogden hovers on their flanks.

    Fast they fly, these boasting Britons,
    Who in all their glory came,
    With their brutal Hessian hirelings
    To wipe out our country’s name.
    Proudly floats the starry banner,
    Monmouth’s glorious field is won,
    And in triumph Irish Molly
    Stands beside her smoking gun.

  28. To the Memory of the Brave Americans

    by Philip Freneau. Note - The complete title is: "To the Memory of the Brave Americans under General Greene, in South Carolina, who fell in the action of September 8, 1781."

     Full Text

    At Eutaw Springs the valiant died;
    Their limbs with dust are covered o'er—
    Weep on, ye springs, your tearful tide;
    How many heroes are no more!

    If in this wreck or ruin, they
    Can yet be thought to claim a tear,
    O smite your gentle breast, and say
    The friends of freedom slumber here!

    Thou, who shalt trace this bloody plain,
    If goodness rules thy generous breast,
    Sigh for the wasted rural reign;
    Sign for the shepherds, sunk to rest!

    Stranger, their humble graves adorn;
    You too may fall, and ask a tear;
    'Tis not the beauty of the morn
    That proves the evening shall be clear.—

    They saw their injured country's woe;
    The flaming town, the wasted field;
    Then rushed to meet the insulting foe;
    They took the spear—but left the shield.

    Led by thy conquering genius, Greene,
    The Britons they compelled to fly;
    None distant viewed the fatal plain,
    None grieved, in such a cause to die—

    But, like the Parthian, famed of old,
    Who, flying, still their arrows threw,
    These routed Britons, full as bold,
    Retreated, and retreating slew.

    Now rest in peace, our patriot band,
    Though far from nature's limits thrown,
    We trust they find a happier land,
    A brighter sunshine of their own.

  29. The Revolutionary Soldier's Bequest

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

     Full Text

    "Behold," the hoary veteran said,
    "The silver scattered o'er my head;
    A remnant of the auburn hair,
    That curled in sunny clusters there,
    When, in the land that now is thine,
    With bounding flock and fruitful vine,
    While Freedom's banner waves unfurled,
    The envy of a gazing world,
    Life was but slavery to me;
    And when I fought, my son, for thee.

    "Thy father's forehead time has bared;
    The few white locks, that yet are spared
    And lonely round my temples stray,
    Soon from thy sight must pass away.
    So thinned, so scattered o'er the land
    Is now that valiant, patriot band,
    Who, when their country gave the word,
    ' To arms! to arms! gird on thy sword!'
    Sprang forth, resolved her chains to break,
    Or earth their gory bed to make.
    And, gathering where their chieftain led,
    Thick as the hairs that clothed his head,
    Marched onward, where the foeman stood
    Waiting to dip his foot in blood.

    "Though many a groan was heard around
    From quivering lips that strewed the ground;
    Yet none could pause to bid farewell,
    When at his side his brother fell,
    To close alone the dying eye—
    To heave unheard the final sigh,
    With none to stay the fleeting breath,
    Or wipe away the damps of death.
    For struggling Liberty impelled,
    When nature's ties had fain withheld;
    Until the God of armies spake
    The word, that made her bonds to break.
    And Independence, shouting loud,
    Burst glorious from the fiery cloud
    That rolled upon the battle-field,
    And scenes of blood and death concealed!
    'T was thus thy liberty was won,
    'T was thus I fought for thee, my son!

    "Yes, on the earth I've sought my rest,
    The hoar-frost gathering o'er my breast;
    And oft the freezing, midnight air
    That chilled my blood, has warmed my prayer,
    That He, who governs all, would ride
    With victory on our injured side.
    Through winter's cold, and summer's heat,
    With aching head and weary feet,
    And hunger's cravings I have gone;
    And when I saw the morning dawn,
    Have thought my day of life must close,
    Ere the first star of evening rose.

    "But now those toils have long been o'er,
    And Plenty spreads from shore to shore;
    While Peace and Freedom join to sing
    The praises of our heavenly King.
    And long his eye has sweetly slept,
    Who then in lonely sorrow wept,
    And bowed with years beneath the stroke,
    When his last earthly prop was broke,
    And his fair son, upon the plain,
    Lay pale, and numbered with the slain.
    The widow too, has made her bed
    Low as her soldier's when he bled,
    And waning life could only spare
    A breath to waft the soldier's prayer,
    'Receive, O God, my soul—and bless
    The widow and the fatherless!'

    "And now, the dimpled babe that smiled,
    When the armed warrior clasped his child;
    And felt a father's parting kiss
    Distend his little heart with bliss;
    Nor knew that parting kiss must sever
    His father's face from his for ever;
    That infant's face is altered now,
    Life's Autumn rays are on his brow.
    While bending o'er the grave I stand
    Waiting a few last grains of sand,
    To drop my clay beneath the sod
    And give my spirit back to God.

    "No glittering wealth that stored the mine,
    Will at thy father's death be thine.
    The scanty portion earth bestows
    Just lasts me to my journey's close!
    But then, I feel I leave thee more
    Than sparkling gems, or dazzling ore;
    Thy heritage is worth them all—
    Thy lines in pleasant places fall,
    Thou hast the land of liberty,
    Which I have fought to win for thee.
    O, keep the dear bequest I make
    Unsullied, for my memory's sake!
    Let no usurping tyrant tread
    Upon my low and peaceful bed—
    No cringing slave retire to weep
    For freedom, where my ashes sleep.
    But when the hand of Time shall trace
    His name in furrows on thy face;
    When four-score years have plucked thy hair,
    And bowed thy form their weight to bear;
    When thou the minute hand shalt see
    Pointing thy feet to follow me,
    To God, and to thy country true,
    Then, for a heavenly home in view,
    Thou to thy son this land resign
    As blessed and free, as I to mine."

  30. Lexington's Dead

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

     Full Text

    They come from the grave to attest to the story
    That we, of their struggle for Liberty, tell!—
    From silence and shade, that her mantle of glory
    May fold o'er the first of her Martyrs who fell!

    They come, that the balm of her breath may perfume them,
    And peacefully then to return to their rest;
    That we, from her arms, may receive and entomb them,
    Assured that they once have reposed on her breast.

    All hail, sacred Relics! from sixty years' sleeping
    Beneath the green turf, where so freely ye bled;
    Who, shrouded in gore, still the battle-ground keeping,
    Forsook not the field, though your vital fire fled!

    In valor's proud bed, with its rich purple o'er you,
    The first blood for Freedom that gushed on the sod,
    Ye lay, when the souls, to the onset that bore you,
    Had passed with her cause, through your wounds, to their God.

    Behold, blessed Spirits, who, nobly defending
    Your country, rushed forth from your dwellings of clay,
    The tribute of sorrow and joy we are blending
    To you, o'er their dear hallowed ruins, to pay!

    The hearts of a nation, your monument rearing,
    Have built it of gratitude, fair and sublime.
    It rises to heaven, your honored names bearing,
    With earth not to sink, nor to crumble with time.

    The ground that, as brothers, in pain ye were sowing,
    Imbosomed the seed for a root firm and deep,
    When life's crimson fountains were opened and flowing
    To moisten the soil for the harvest we reap!

    Forgive then the view that we take, ere we sever
    From these broken wails, that for us ye forsook!
    On them or their like again never, O never,
    Are we, or the eye that is mortal, to look!

    We give them to earth, till the Saviour, descending
    With beauty for ashes, and glory for gloom,
    Shall speak, while the dead to his voice are attending,
    And life, light and freedom are poured through the tomb!

  31. Liberty: An Ode for the Celebration of the Battle of Lexington

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

     Full Text

    Dear is our Liberty,
    For great the price that bought her;
    And dear the memory
    Of those, who nobly sought her!
    When war awoke with din and smoke,
    By numerous foes surrounded,
    With battered life, they braved the strife,
    In death their arms were grounded!
    How blest the memory
    Of those, who stood defying
    The foes of Liberty,
    And breathed her name in dying!

    Take, holy Liberty,
    Their story on thy pinion,
    And wing it high and free,
    Throughout thy proud dominion!
    Their blood was free and warm for thee,
    From fearless bosoms streaming,
    Like stars, on thine, their deeds must shine,
    To all the nations beaming.
    Then, keep thy balmy wing
    Still growing broad and broader,
    And let their story ring
    To Earth's remotest border!

    Fair daughter of the skies,
    As million after million,
    In other days, shall rise
    Beneath thy wide pavilion,
    There may they find their names enshrined,
    Their memory, green and spreading,
    That all may know to whom they owe
    The gifts thy hand is shedding!
    O live, sweet Liberty,
    The course of time pervading,
    Here may thy glory be
    Still pure and never fading!

  32. LaFayette

    by Dolly Madison

    Born, nurtured, wedded, prized, within the pale
    Of peers and princes, high in camp—at court—
    He hears, in joyous youth, a wild report,
    Swelling the murmurs of the Western gale,
    Of a young people struggling to be free!
    Straight quitting all, across the wave he flies,
    Aids with his sword, wealth, blood, the high emprize!
    And shares the glories of its victory.
    Then comes for fifty years a high romance
    Of toils, reverses, sufferings, in the cause
    Of man and justice, liberty and France,
    Crowned, at the last, with hope and wide applause.
    Champion of Freedom! Well thy race was run!
    All time shall hail thee, Europe's noblest Son!

  33. On Independence

    by Jonathan Mitchell Sewall

    Come all you brave soldiers, both valiant and free,
    It's for Independence we all now agree;
    Let us gird on our swords and prepare to defend
    Our liberty, property, ourselves and our friends.

    In a cause that's so righteous, come let us agree,
    And from hostile invaders set America free,
    The cause is so glorious we need not to fear
    But from merciless tyrants we'll set ourselves clear.

    Heaven's blessing attending us, no tyrant shall say
    That Americans e'er to such monsters gave way,
    But fighting we'll die in America's cause
    Before we'll submit to tyrannical laws.

    George the Third, of Great Britain, no more shall he reign,
    With unlimited sway o'er these free States again;
    Lord North, nor old Bute, nor none of their clan,
    Shall ever be honor'd by an American.

    May Heaven's blessing descend on our United States,
    And grant that the union may never abate;
    May love, peace, and harmony ever be found,
    For to go hand in hand America round.

    Upon our grand Congress may Heaven bestow
    Both wisdom and skill our good to pursue;
    On Heaven alone dependent we'll be.
    But from all earthly tyrants we mean to be free.

    Unto our brave Generals may Heaven give skill
    Our armies to guide, and the sword for to wield,
    May their hands taught to war, and their fingers to fight,
    Be able to put British armies to flight.

    And now, brave Americans, since it is so,
    That we are independent, we'll have them to know
    That united we are, and united we'll be,
    And from all British tyrants we'll try to keep free.

    May Heaven smile on us in all our endeavors,
    Safe guard our seaports, our towns, and our rivers,
    Keep us from invaders by land and by sea,
    And from all who'd deprive us of our liberty.

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