The Last Great Charge (MacEdward Leach)

See also: The Blue-Eyed Boy (MacEdward Leach)

'twas just before the last great charge,
Two soldiers drew their rein,
With a clasp of the hand and a parting word,
They might never meet again.

They had rode together for many's the raid,
They had marched for many's the mile;
And ever before they met the foe,
With a calm and cheerful smile.

But now they looked in each other's face,
With that awful ghastly gloom;
The tall dark man was the first to speak,
Saying, "Charley, my hour is come.

"We'll ride together down the hill,
But if you'll ride back again;
You must promise a little trouble to take,
For me when I am slain.

"You'll find a face upon my breast,
I wear it into the fight;
With bright blue eyes and clustering curls,
That shine like the morning light.

"Like the morning light was her love for me,
As she gladdened my lonely life;
What cared I for the powers of fate,
When she promised to be my wife?

"Write to her, Charley, when I am gone,
Send back that fair fond face;
And tell her tenderly how I died,
And where is my resting place."

Tears dimmed the blue eyes of the boy,
His face grew low with pain;
"I'll do your bidding, comrade mine,
If I'll ride back again.

"If you'll arrive back and I do not,
You must do as much for me;
I've a mother at home who would bear the news,
Just write to her tenderly.

"At home she's prayed like a watching saint,
Her fair face white with woe;
I know the news it will break her heart,
I soon shall see her I know."

Just then the order came to charge,
In an instant hand clasped hand;
They answered aye and away they rode,
With that brave and devoted band.

They rode till they came to the crest of the hill,
Where the rebel shot and shell,
Poured rifle death in their charging ranks,
And jeered them as they fell.

Amongst the dead that was left behind,
Was the boy with the curly hair;
The tall dark man that rode by his aide,
Lay dead beside him there.

There was no one to write to that blue-eyed girl
The words her lover had said;
And the mother at home would not hear of the news
That her darling boy was dead.

She never shall know of the last fond thought
Was said to soothe her pain,
Until she reaches the river of death,
And stands by his side again.

####.... Author unknown. Variant of a traditional American Civil War ballad, The Last Fierce Charge [Laws A17] Native American Balladry, G Malcolm Laws (1964/1950) ....####

Sung in 1951 by John (Jack) Knight [1883-1975] of Shoe Cove, NL, and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada, ©2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

A variant was also sung by Edward (Ned) Rice [1916-2002] of Cape Broyle, NL, and published as The Blue-Eyed Boy in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada, ©2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

A variant was also collected in 1952 by Kenneth Peacock from Michael (Mike) A Kent [1904-1997] of Cape Broyle, NL, and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Vol 3, pp.1004-1006, by the National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.


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