July 23, 2012

We are coming, Father Abraham

In July 1862, Abraham Lincoln called for his countrymen to stand up and join the Union cause during the second year of the Civil War. To meet the needs of the conflict, Lincoln dramatically called for 300,000 men to enlist voluntarily. Despite the huge number, most American news outlets and the general public in the North supported the call; many towns appointed individual recruiters or full committees. No line of support, however, could match the poem/song "We Are Coming, Father Abraham," credited to James Sloan Gibbons, who was born July 23, 1810:

We are coming, Father Abraham, three hundred thousand more,
From Mississippi's winding stream and from New England's shore;
We leave our ploughs and workshops, our wives and children dear,
With hearts too full for utterance, with but a silent tear;
We dare not look behind us, but steadfastly before:
We are coming, Father Abraham, three hundred thousand more!

If you look across the hill-tops that meet the northern sky,
Long moving lines of rising dust your vision may descry;
And now the wind, an instant, tears the cloudy veil aside,
And floats aloft our spangled flag in glory and in pride.
And bayonets in the sunlight gleam, and bands brave music pour;
We are coming, Father Abraham, three hundred thousand more!

If you look all up our valleys where the growing harvests shine,
You may see our sturdy farmer boys fast forming into line;
And children from their mother's knees are pulling at the weeds,
And learning how to reap and sow against their country's needs;
And a farewell group stands weeping at every cottage door:
We are coming, Father Abraham, three hundred thousand more!

You have called us and we 're coming, by Richmond's bloody tide,
To lay us down for Freedom's sake, our brothers' bones beside,
Or from foul treason's savage grasp to wrench the murderous blade,
And in the face of foreign foes its fragments to parade.
Six hundred thousand loyal men and true have gone before:
We are coming, Father Abraham, three hundred thousand more!

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