20 December 1861: “. . . on my lonely night’s watching . . .”

Item description: Poem, “The Picket Guard” written “For the Journal. / By a Lady.”  The Daily Journal (Wilmington, N. C.), 20 December 1861, page 2, column 2.  For more on Civil War poetry, see the Library of Congress web page, “Civil War Poetry: Selected Bibliography of Online Anthologies and Collections.”

Poem, "The Picket Guard"

Item Transcription:

For the Journal.

The Picket Guard.

Dost thou think of me darling, when even
Hath spread her dim veil o’er the skye,
And stars from the deep soul of heaven,
Shine out from their orbits on high?
I am ordered away on the picket,
Alone this strange, ominous night—
With the beast in his lair in the thicket,
And the tuneless wild bird in his flight.

Away while the tattoo is beating,
And soldiers are answering to call—
Now tired to their pallets retreating,
And slumbers have equalized all,
But me, —on my lonely night’s watching,
Keep vigils with stars ’till they set—
Each sound of the falling leaves catching,
And with dew of the night dripping wet.

O Father who reignest in heaven,
And watchest the tender bird’s flight,
My tresspasses all be forgiven,
And keep me in safety to-night!
‘Tis the voice of my country that calls me,
Oppress’d by a tyrant’s loud boast—
And here whatsoever befalls me,
Thou wilt keep me still true to my post.

Rest darlings, so still in your sleeping,
And dream of your soldier away!
There’s many a long night of weeping,
And aching hearts weary of day;
No visions of sadness to-morrow,
Steal o’er your angelic repose.
Rest darlings, away from your sorrow,
The dawn will night’s secrets disclose.

Alone in the dawn of the morning,
A pale soldier slept at his post.
Nor gave to his comrades the warning,
While marches the enemy’s host.
A crystal drop froze to his lashes,
A smile on his fair sunny face;
A beautiful statue of ashes
Lay there in the picket-guard’s place.

Item Citation: “The Picket Guard,” The Daily Journal (Wilmington, N.C.), 20 December 1861, page 2, column 2.  Call number: C071 W74j, North Carolina Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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