December 21, 2011

Glory to our Southern cause

Illustration of the Battle of Belmont, from Nineteenth Century Battles, 1900

The Battle of Belmont during the Civil War was fought in Missouri in November 1861. Just over a month later, the Memphis Appeal for December 21, 1861 included a poem titled "The Battle of Belmont" by J. Augustine Signaigo. Though historians today find no definitive winner, the Confederacy considered it a victory, as Signaigo shows in his poem:

Now glory to our Southern cause, and praises be to God,
That He hath met the Southron's foe, and scourged him with his rod:
On the tented plains of Belmont, in their might the Vandals came,
And they gave unto destruction all they found, with sword and flame;
But they met a stout resistance from a little band that day,
Who swore nobly they would conquer, or return to mother clay.

Signaigo, born in Italy in 1835, moved to Tennessee and founded a newspaper. He later wrote an operetta about the Civil War, The Vivandiere. In "The Battle of Belmont," one of several war poems he wrote, Signaigo names several soldiers individually, including some who died:

Let us think of those who fell there, fighting foremost with the foe,
And who nobly struck for Freedom, dealing Tyranny a blow:
Like the ocean beating wildly 'gainst a prow of adamant,
Or the storm that keeps on bursting, but cannot destroy the plant...

The battle resulted in the retreat of the Union Army, including then Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant. Signaigo says that their cowardice was so embarrassing, "their great grandchildren's children will be shamed to name that day." More importantly, the bravery shown by Confederates should be considered a warning to the Union and, further, should be considered proof that the Confederacy proceeds with divine blessing:

Let the horrors of this day to the foe a warning be,
That the Lord is with the South, that His arm is with the free;
That her soil is pure and spotless, as her clear and sunny sky.
And that he who dare pollute it on her soil shall basely die;
For His fiat hath gone forth, e'en among the Hessian horde,
That the South has got His blessing, for the South is of the Lord.

Then glory to our Southern cause, and praises give to God,
That He hath met the Southron's foe and scourged him with His rod;
That He hath been upon our side, with all His strength and might,
And battled for the Southern cause in every bloody fight;
Let us, in meek humility, to all the world proclaim,
We bless and glorify the Lord, and battle in His name.

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