Lines by Stonewall Jackson.

The tattoo boats – the lights are gone;
The camp around in slumber lies;
The night with solemn pace moves on,
The shadows thicken o’er the skies;
But sleep my weary eyes hath flown,
And sad, uneasy thoughts arise.
I think of thee, oh! dearest one,
Whom love my early life hath blest –
Of thee and him – our baby son –
Who slumbers on thy gentle breast.
God of the tender, frail, and lone,
Oh! guard the gentle sleeper’s rest.
And hover, gently hover near
To her, whose watchful eye is wet –
To mother, wife – the doubly dear,
In whose young heart have freshly met
Two streams of love so deep and clear –
And cheer her drooping spirits yet.
Now, while she kneels before Thy throne,
Oh! teach her, Ruler of the skies,
That while by Thy behest alone
Earths mightiest powers fall or rise,
No tear is wept to Thee unknown
No hair is lost, no sparrow dies!
That Thou canst stay the ruthless hands
Of dark disease, and soothe its pain
That only by Thy stern commands
The battle’s lost, the soldier’s slain –
That from the distant sea or land
Thou bring’st the wanderer home again.
And when upon her pillow lone
Her tear-wet cheek is sadly pressed,
May happier visions beam upon
The brightening current of her breast –
No frowning look, nor angry tone,
Disturb the Sabbath of her rest.
Whatever fate those forms may show,
Loved with a passion almost wild –
By day – by night – in joy or woe –
By fears oppressed, or hopes beguiled,
From every danger, every foe,
Oh God! protect my wife and child!

Title:Lines by Stonewall Jackson.

Author:Thomas Jefferson Jackson

Publication:Manchester Courier

Published in:Manchester

Date:November 29th 1862

Keywords:politics, war


This poem does not directly reference the Cotton Famine or the relationship between Britain and America during the Civil War, but it is remarkable for the identity of its author. Thomas Jefferson ‘Stonewall’ Jackson was a Confederate general and a major figure in the conflict, and the publication of the poem by him, whilst by no means a tacit statement of sympathy for the Confederacy, is at least a measure of the effects of official political neutrality on British public opinion. This poem was also published in the Preston Chronicle around this time, but it seems that the Manchester is even more provocative, given that within a month of this poem appearing in this newspaper Manchester effectively declared it civic support for the Union and anti-slavery in the famous Free Trade Hall meeting of December 31st 1862. – SR

The poem is preceded by the following description:

The following lines, written by the celebrated “Stonewall” Jackson when serving in the Mexican War, evince that tenderness of feeling which is often associated with courage and resolution.