Bivouac of the Dead
By Martin Rice

Written for and read at the twenty-ninth anniversary of the Battle of Lone Jack

No muffled drum proclaims to-day
The gallant soldiers’ fall,
But on this anniversary
We should their deeds recall.
Go to yon elevated ground,
Brave men are sleeping there,
As brave as ever have been crowned
With laurels bright and fair.

There sleeping in their lowly bed,
They heed not war’s alarms;
No midnight dream or fearful dread
Of call to clashing arms,
No threat of an advancing foe,
No rumor of defeat,
No storms that come, no winds that blow,
Can haste or stay their feet.

Long was the struggle, fierce the strife,
Courageous men on either side.
How great the sacrifice of life!
How many brave men died!
No fiercer conflict in the strife
That then convulsed the land
Than that in which they laid down life
At duty’s stern command.

Fierce was the battle-storm that swept
Across the prairie swell,
And long the struggling ranks were kept
Exposed to shot and shell;
And as the roaring of the storm
Was borne upon the wind,
As often as the ranks would form,
As often were they thinned.

And when the storm had spent its rage,
Its fury passed away,
There mixed together, youth and age
In Death’s own image lay;
While others, wounded unto death,
Lay waiting for the hour
When they should yield their latest breath
To war’s destroying power.

The father and the husband, who
Left wife and child behind
To watch and wait and hope as few
Can do and live resigned,
Sleep there beside the stripling youth,
Some mother’s darling boy,
Her pride, her stay, her all, forsooth,
The widow’s hope and joy.

Long have they lain upon that field,
The mourner’s sobs are hushed,
And passing time has partly healed
The hearts that then were crushed.
The pitying rain, like woman’s tears,
Has fallen on their graves,
And oft the passing breeze appears
To sigh o’er fallen braves.

There sleeping in their lowly bed,
They heed not war’s alarms;
No midnight dream, no fearful dread
Of call to clashing arms,
The thunder of the cannonade,
The musket’s awful roar,
Will not disturb them where they’re laid,
They’ll hear them never more.

The stains of blood upon the brow
Have all been wiped away;
They feel no pain nor anguish now,
Nor memory of the fray;
No longer on life’s march will they
Be hurried to and fro-
They watch by night, their march by day
Have ended long ago.

And on their last camping-ground
They’ve pitched their sleeping-tents,
And roll of drum nor bugle sound
Will ever call them hence.
Upon that gory battle-field,
By patriotism led,
They’ve laid them down as on their shield-
A bivouac of the dead.

And fame and honor guard the spot
On which those worthies rest;
And never shall Detraction’s foot
Or impious hand molest.
The rusty sword and bayonet,
The murdering lance and gun,
They’ll need no more until shall set
The world’s last setting sun.

Together now those warriors sleep
Who fought each other then;
Their enmity all buried deep,
To rise no more again.
And whether clad in blue or gray,
Or whether right or wrong,
Respect and honor we will pay,
For these to them belong.

Sons of Columbia, brother all,
Ye sleep in the same clay;
There rest ‘till the same bugle-call
Together you obey.
No sounds shall e’er disturb again
Your silent bivouac,
While sleeping ‘neath the sun and rain,
Where grew the tree Lone Jack.

There martial glory guards the spot,
And marble stone will tell
How stubbornly that day you fought,
How gloriously you fell.
Let truth your eulogy proclaim
And spread it far abroad,
And history, with pen aflame,
Your heroic deeds applaud.