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The Charge of the Second Iowa Cavalry

Written by: Ellis Parker Butler | Biography
 Comrades, many a year and day
 Have fled since that glorious 9th of May
 When we made the charge at Farmington.
 But until our days on earth are done
 Our blood will burn and our hearts beat fast
 As we tell of the glorious moments we passed,
 When we rode on the guns with a mighty shout
 And saved Paine’s army from utter rout;
 And our children in years to come will tell
 How the 2nd rose through the shot and shell
 Rode with a cheer on that 9th of May
 And held the whole rebel army at bay.

 Behind lay the swamp, a dank morass.
 A marsh - no horse nor man could pass
 Save by one road, one narrow way.
 But beyond that road our safety lay,
 In front rose the hills which the rebels held
 With his howling cannon that raked and shelled
 Our troops.
 We lay in the centre.
 Our general saw he must cross again
 The narrow road, or his men were lost
 The road was narrow. It must be crossed,
 And crossed in haste, and the deadly rain
 of the rebel guns "Must be stopped!" said Paine.

 Twenty-four cannon thundered and roared!
 Twenty-four cannon into us poured.
 Twenty-four cannon! A devil’s den
 Backed by full fifteen thousand men.
 Must be held at bay till our troops could pass
 In order over the dank morass.
 Up to where the cavalry stand,
 Waiting in order the word of command,
 Gallops Paine. And his mighty shout
 Rings the daring order out -
 "Take and hold that battery!
 Take it! Whatever the hazards be!"
 "Draw sabres!" They flash in the startled air.
 "Forward! Gallop! March!" Away
 We ride. We must show our steel today!

 "Gallop! Charge!" On the rebels ears
 Ring the thundering Yankee cheers!
 And on, like a wave of maddened sea,
 On - Dash the Iowa cavalry!
 Into the torrents of shot and shell
 That shrieks and screams like the fiends of hell!
 Into the torrent of shot that kills!
 Into the torrent of shell that stills
 The cheer on many a lip, we ride
 Like the onward rush of a whirling tide
 Up to the cannon’s mouth,
 Our cheers
 Curdle the blood of the cannoneers
 To right and left from his silenced guns
 In wild retreat the rebel runs.
 And the charge of the Iowa cavalry
 Rushes on!

 Can you stop the sea
 When the storm waves break on the sandy shore
 Driving the driftwood awrack? No more
 Can the rebel resist the terrible charge
 As we ride right up to their army’s marge -
 They waver - the fifteen thousand men,
 Waver and rally, and waver, and then
 Our work is done.
 Paine’s men had crossed
 The swamp while our little band was lost
 In the smoke and dust of the eager ride,
 And are safe at last on the other side.
 Then we ride back! We had saved the day
 By holding the whole rebel army at bay,
 While Paine made a hasty and safe retreat
 Over the swamp.

 We had conquered defeat!

 Comrades, many a year and day
 Have fled since that glorious 9th of May
 When we made the charge at Farmington.
 And our time on earth is almost run,
 But when we are gone our children will tell
 How we rode through rebel shots and shell.
 How we rode on the guns with a mighty shout,
 And saved Paine’s army from utter route.
 And carved in the temple of glory will be
 The roll of the 2nd Iowa Cavalry.
 The brave old 2nd, that never knew
 A deed too hard or rash to do.
 The dear old 2nd, that would have spurred
 Into Hell itself, if Hatch said the word.