Today we celebrate the men and women who serve our country past, present, and future. Captain Jack Crawford “The Poet Scout” was a veteran of the Civil War and continued to serve his country as a civilian scout under General George Crook.
The Dying Veteran’s Counsel
by: Captain Jack Crawford “The Poet Scout”
Come raise me on my pillow, son – I’ve got a word to say,
Perhaps the last I’ll ever speak before I pass away –
The doctor says the final hour is drawing very nigh
When I’ll join the spirit ranks on heaven’s eternal shore,
And when the Great Commander culls my bad deeds from the good,
I think He’ll bid me welcome, for I’ve done the best I could.
I served my country faithfully when foemen pressed her sore,
I fought for God and Country ‘mid the cannon’s deafening roar,
And under the sweet reign of peace my aim has always been
To be an honor to the cause we fought so hard to win.
To you I leave the patriot work where I must lay it down,
A sacred trust, boy – guard it well if you would wear the crown
Which loyalty sets on the brow of every faithful son,
And to your children leave the trust when your work too is done.
The patriot Sons of Veterans with whom you nobly stand,
Are bravely battling for a cause than which there’s none more grand –
Upholding the great principles for which their fathers fought,
And honoring the glorious flag, now free from every blot.
Guard well the principles, my boy, on which your order rests,
Honor your comrade veterans’ sons, for in their youthful breasts
The living fire of loyalty glows as the noonday sun –
Glows as it glowed in bosoms of their sires in Sixty-one.
While we were battling at the front vile traitors in the rear,
Were hurling poisoned arrows at the flag we loved so dear –
Vile copperheads who glided ’round in crawling, snakish way,
Too cowardly to join their friends who wore the rebel gray.
These men yet hate the veterans who wore the Union blue
With all the venom of their hearts, and boy, I say to you,
That now they’re grasping after power, are seeking to control
The very government they sought to wreck with all their soul.
When war was done they held their peace, they dared not lift their heads
They even claimed to love the flag they would have torn to shreds –
In manner hypocritical they hid the cloven foot
Of treason ‘neath the covering of love of country boot.
Then slowly as the serpent from its winter stupor wakes,
These men, who while we battled struck at us like vicious snakes,
Roused from their dormant quietude, unwrapped their scaly coils,
And sought to gain preferment – not for country, but for spoils.
Who are the men who seek to grasp the helm of ship of state?
Who is the Democratic chief and who his eager mate?
Into the talons of the draft one hurled a substitute –
No arm raised he for country, for our cause his tongue was mute.
The other prayed our cause might fail, our flag be swept from the earth,
Prayed he for the destruction of the land which gave him birth,
And with his voice and with his means urged on our country’s foes –
He dared not face us on the field – from the rear he aimed his blows.
One grasped the reins of government in Eighteen Eighty-four,
At expiration of his term he sought for power once more,
But loyally the masses rose and hurled him from his place,
A merited and stern rebuke cast in his lordly face.
For this humiliation cared he naught, the lesson seemed –
(Although with patriot reproof and reprimand it teemed,)
To fail to tough his calloused heart, to reach his instincts low,
For now he turns another cheek – awaits another blow.
My dying admonition, son, pray nourish in your breast,
Fight for the men who fought for you when foes our country pressed,
Lend all your earnest aid to those who hastened to the front,
And for the glorious Union cause bore well the battles’ brunt.
Do this, and when the summons comes as it has come to me,
When time lies all behind you and you face eternity,
Not one regret will to you cling, and as you pass away,
Your soul will feel the soothing peace that dwells with me to-day.
View Crawford’s “The Poet Scout” original work here…