Turner Ashby in Southern Poetry

Turner Ashby
by John R. Thompson, of Virginia

To the brave all homage render,
Weep, ye skies of June!
With a radiance pure and tender,
Shine, oh saddened moon!
Dead upon the field of glory,
Hero fit for song and story,
Lies our bold dragoon!

Well they learned, whose hands have slain him,
Braver, knightlier foe
Never fought with Moor nor Paynim
Rode at Templestowe;
With a mien how high and joyous,
'Gainst the hordes that would destroy us,
Went he forth we know.

Never more, alas I shall sabre
Gleam around his crest;
Fought his fight, fulfilled his labor,
Stilled his manly breast;
All unheard sweet nature's cadence,
Trump of fame and voice of maidens
Now he takes his rest.

Earth, that all too soon hath bound him?
Gently wrap his clay;
Linger lovingly around him,
Light of dying day;
Softly fall the summer showers,
Birds and bees among the flowers
Make the gloom seem gay.

There, throughout the coming ages,
When his sword is rust,
And his deeds in classic pages;
Mindful of her trust,
Shall Virginia, bending lowly,
Still a ceaseless vigil holy
Keep above his dust.


Dirge for Ashby
by Mrs. M. J. Preston.

Heard ye that thrilling word
Accent of dread
Fall, like a thunderbolt,
Bowing each head?
Over the battle dun,
Over each booming gun
Ashby, our bravest one!
Ashby is dead!

Saw ye the veterans
Hearts that had known
Never a quail of fear,
Never a groan
Sob, though the fight they win,
Tears their stern eyes within
Ashby, our Paladin,
Ashby is dead!

Dash, dash the tear away
Crush down the pain!
Dulce et decus, be
Fittest refrain!
Why should the dreary pall,
Round him, be flung at all?
Did not our hero fall
Gallantly slain!

Catch the last words of cheer,
Dropt from his tongue;
Over the battle's din,
Let them be rung!
Follow me! follow me!
Soldier, oh! could there be
Paean or dirge for thee,
Loftier sung?

Bold as the lion's heart
Dauntlessly brave
Knightly as knightliest
Bayard might crave;
Sweet, with all Sydney's grace.
Tender as Hampden's face,
Who now shall fill the space,
Void by his grave?

'Tis not one broken heart,
Wild with dismay
Crazed in her agony,
Weeps o'er his clay!
Ah! from a thousand eyes,
Flow the pure tears that rise
Widowed Virginia lies
Stricken today!

Yet, charge as gallantly,
Ye, whom he led!
Jackson, the victor, still
Leads, at your head!
Heroes! be battle done
Bravelier, every one
Nerved by the thought alone
Ashby is dead!


by John Oliver Crow

A wail swells o'er the valley,
Virginia, deep with woe;
Thy noble sons and daughters
In mournful grief bend low,
In mournful grief bend low,
Above that fallen brave,
The high-souled, gallant Ashby,
Who sleeps in Glory's grave.

His clarion voice is silent
That stirred his band to dare
The front and shock of battle
When cannon rent the air,
When cannon rent the air,
And armies met in strife,
Advancing or recoiling
Before the tide of life.

Amid the war-storm's thunder
A battle god he moved;
But in the hour of victory
Stern death relentless proved,
Stern death relentless proved,
As he pressed down the foe
That came in mocking triumph
To lay Virginians low.

Virginia, with thy glory
Will live his endless fame!
The Shenandoah's waters
Will chant his deathless name,
Will chant his deathless name,
And every rill will tell
And every breeze will whisper
How, fighting, Ashby fell.

With his proud name we linger
Like some bright dream that's fled,
And scarce our hearts can echo --
He sleeps among the dead,
He sleeps among the dead,
But, oh, his deeds live on,
That speak in battle's language --
Strive on till victory's won!


by Arthur Louis Peticolas

Silver clear above the river,
Hear the bugle calling!
Through the forest by the river,
O'er the hills and o'er the river,
Shades of night are falling;
While the dusky echoes waking,
Airy, fairy music making --
Ashby's bugle calling!
Matchless horseman of the Valley!
Knightly horseman of the Valley!
Ashby's bugle calling.

Wakeful pickets by the river,
Keeping watch and ward;
Soldiers sleeping by the river,
By the rapid, rushing river,
On the velvet sward;
'Neath the stars of midnight gleaming,
Stonewall's army peaceful dreaming,
Ashby's keeping guard.
Matchless horseman of the Valley!
Knightly horseman of the Valley!
Ashby's keeping guard.

Loud and clear above the river,
Hear the rifles ringing!
Flaming guns that set aquiver
All the echoes by the river,
Songs of death are singing;
Through the raging fight, and after,
Hears the foe, like mocking laughter,
Ashby's bugle ringing!
Matchless horseman of the Valley!
Knightly horseman of the Valley!
Ashby's bugle ringing.

Well the Valley, well the river,
Knew the silver tone;
Knew the steeds whose hoof beats ever
Woke the echoes by the river.
White, and black, and roan
Were the steeds of valiant mettle,
Were the steeds that bore to battle
Ashby's self alone!
Matchless horseman of the Valley!
Knightly horseman of the Valley!
Ashby's self alone.

But no more beside the river
Ashby's steeds career;
And no more the rushing river,
Hill and vale and rushing river,
Ashby's bugle hear;
Nevermore in charge or rally
Wakes the echoes of the Valley
Ashby's bugle clear!
Matchless horseman of the Valley!
Knightly horseman of the Valley!
That we loved so dear.

In a sunshine guilded meadow
Fell that battle day;
Ashby formed us in the shadow
Of a wood; below the meadow
Flower spangled lay;
While beyond, with pomp and daring,
Wyndham came with trumpets blaring,
Charging to the fray!
Futile all his pomp and daring,
Futile all his trumpets blaring
Proved that fatal day.

Three fierce volleys, then a tempest
Set the echoes ringing!
Sweetly clear a silver tempest,
Deadly clear a silver tempest --
Ashby's bugle singing!
Down we charged on Wyndham's squadrons,
Charged on Wyndham's reeling squadrons.
All our sabers swinging!
Charged, and broke, and rode them over,
Stained with blood the meadow clover,
All our sabers swinging!

Riflemen beside the meadow
Swept the volleyed field;
From the copse beside the meadow,
Volleyed woodland by the meadow,
Back our footmen reeled!
Ashby spurred to lead them, crying;
"Charge!" They charged, but he was lying
Dead upon the field!
Matchless horseman of the Valley!
O loved horseman of the Valley!
Dead upon the field!

Sadly sweet the bugle's calling
Over Ashby's bier!
Soft and low the bugle's calling
As the shades of night are falling.
But he does not hear.
Stilled forever by the river,
In the Valley, by the river,
Ashby's bugle clear!
Matchless horseman of the Valley!
Knightly horseman of the Valley!
That we loved so dear.