Old Civil War poem recounts Rebel invasion of York County
Excerpted from The Strife of Brothers: A Poem by Joseph Tyrone Derry. (Atlanta: Franklin Printing, 1904).
With these great triumphs of his noble corps
O’er the Potomac Ewell sweeps once more;
Then through fair Maryland his legions tramp
And soon in Pennsylvania pitch their camp.
Johnson and Rodes pressed onward to Carlisle,
And Early forward marched to York the while.
This northward move of Ewell’s gallant corps
Filled countless Northern hearts with terrors sore.
The dread of them e’en Philadelphia shakes,
And far New York with dire forebodings quakes.
Stores and supplies they gathered as they moved,
But true to Lee’s strict orders ever proved.
No harm or insult citizens receive,
And, that these troops are foes, can scarce believe.
The grass-clad hills and fertile valleys smile
And bask, as though in peace profound, the while
That farmers safely drive their teams afield
And peaceful gather nature’s bounteous yield. 990
The cattle all unharmed the pastures graze,
And women, men and children in amaze
See these grim, war-worn vet’rans tramp along,
Sometimes with merry jest or lively song,
But ever with that mien where one can trace
The courteous manners of a well-bred race.
Although for vengeance they had many a chance,
No plundered fields or homes marked their advance.
Virginia’s wrongs had vexed their spirits sore
And on the Georgia coast, short while before,
The town of Darien by fire destroyed,
And citizens by plund’ring raids annoyed,
Had given ample cause to vent their rage ;
Yet Lee’s grand orders did their wrath assuage.
To Wrightsville on the Susquehannah’s banks
Gordon advanced with his well-ordered ranks.
Where bridge by Fed’ral horsemen fired they found
Whose flames were spreading ruin dire around.
Their prompt and active aid the Georgians gave
And helped the citizens their town to save.