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  --  1863   Table of Contents     Wendell Phillips

Bush, Olivia Ward

- Lights Along -- Shore
- A Hero of San Juan Hill

A Hero of San Juan Hill

Among the sick and wounded ones,
This stricken soldier-boy lay
With glassy eye and shortened breath,
His life seemed slipping fast away.

My heart grew faint to see him thus,
His dark brown face so full of pain,
I wondered if the mother's eyes
Were looking for her boy in vain.

I bent to catch his feeble words;
"I am so ill, and far from home,
I feel so strange and lonely here,
You seem a friend, I'm glad you've come."

"I want to tell you how our boys
Went charging on the enemy,
'Twas when we climbed up San Juan's Hill
And there we got the victory."

"The Spaniards poured a heavy fire,
We met it with a right good-will,
We saw the 71st fall back,
And then our boys went up the hill."

"Yes up the hill, and gained it too,
Not one brave boy was seen to lag;
Old Glory o'er us floating free,
We'd gladly died for that old flag."

His dim eye brightened as he spoke,
He seemed unconscious of his pain,
In fancy on the battle-field,
He lived that victory o'er again.

And I, I seemed to grasp it too,
The stalwart form, the dusky face,
Of each black hero climbing up,
To win fair glory for their race.

The Spaniards said, "That phalanx seemed
To move like one black solid wall."
They flung defiance back at death,
To answer to their country's call.

They fought for Cuban liberty,
Up San Juan Hill they fought their way,
Until their life-blood freely spent,
Marked how these heroes won the day.

March on dark sons of Afric's race,
Naught can be gained by standing still,
Retreat not, quit yourselves like men,
And like these heroes, climb the hill.

Till pride and prejudice shall cease,
Till racial barriers are unknown,
Attain the heights, and thou shalt find,
Equality upon the Throne.

  --  1863   Table of Contents     Wendell Phillips