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Our Soldiers Cemetery

Mt. Jackson, Virginia
provided by Old Valley Pike Country Store and History Center

Main Gate to the Cemetery


by Theodore O'Hara*

The muffled drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last tattoo;
No more on Life's parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On Fame's eternal camping-ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And Glory guards, with solemn round,
The bivouac of the dead.

No rumor of the foe's advance
Now swells upon the wind;
No troubled thought at midnight haunts
Of loved ones left behind;
No vision of the morrow's strife
The warrior's dream alarms;
No braying horn nor screaming fife
At dawn shall call to arms.

Their shivered swords are red with rust;
Their plumed heads are bowed
Their haughty banner, trailed with dust,
Is now their martial shroud.
And plenteous funeral tears have washed
The red stains from each brow,
And the proud forms, by battle gashed,
Are free from anguish now.

The neighing troop, the flashing blade,
The bugle's stirring blast,
The charge, the dreadful cannonade,
The din and shout are past;
Nor war's wild note, nor glory's peal,
Shall thrill with fierce delight
Those breasts that nevermore may feel
The rapture of the fight....

Rest on, embalmed and sainted dead!
Dear as the blood ye gave,
No impious footstep here shall tread
The herbage of your grave;
Nor shall your story be forgot,
While Fame her record keeps,
Or Honor points the hallowed spot Where Valor proudly sleeps.


The following is reproduced from Confederate Veteran (v. VII, no. 5, May, 1899):

Theodore O'Hara, one of the few poets whose title to immortality rests on a single poem, but on that account is none the less secure, was born in Danville, Ky., February 11, 1820. The family subsequently lived in Frankfort. Theodore was a very precocious child, and with him study was a passion. He studied at Bardstown, in Kentucky, and there became noted as an accomplished scholar. He afterwards studied law with John C. Breckinridge as a fellow-student.

In 1845 he held a position in the Treasury Department at Washington, but soon afterwards joined the United States army, with the rank of captain. He served with distinction through the Mexican war, and rose to the rank of major. He afterwards practiced law in Washington until 1851, when he joined other Kentuckians in assisting Lopez, who was trying to liberate Cuba. He was at one time editor in chief of the Mobile Register, and at another editor of the Louisville Times.

At the breaking out of the civil war he cast his fortunes with the South, and was placed in command of the Twelfth Alabama Regiment. Later he served on the staff of Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston, and was with him at Shiloh and caught the great chief in his arms when the bullet had done its deadly work. He was afterwards chief of staff to his lifelong friend, Gen. John C. Breckinridge. He died on a plantation in Alabama in 1867, and was buried at Columbus, Ga. In 1874 his remains, together with those of Gens. Greenup and Madison, and several distinguished officers of the Mexican war, were reinterred in the State cemetery at Frankfort, Ky.

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