‘Tis a sweet September evening, and the sun is sinking low;
In a hundred gorgeous colors the Canadian forests show,
Streamlets murmur through the valley, song-birds warble in the trees,
There is glory in the sunset, and there’s perfume in the breeze.
∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗
“Tell us, grandpa,” said young Charley, as his wooden sword he swung,
“Tell us of the famous battle that you fought when you were young;
How that scar came on your forehead; how it is you were not slain;
For the folks say you did bravely at the battle of Lundy’s Lane.”
Gaily smiled the tall old farmer as he stroked the golden head
Of his fair and favored grandchild. “You’re a tease, my boy,” he said
“But if Angus cease his drumming and if Will from noise refrain,
And if Alice sit beside me, I shall tell of Lundy’s Lane.”
Silent all, they crowded ’round him, when the veteran thus began: —
“I belonged to the ‘Glengarries,’ true and loyal every man:
At Niagara we joined Drummond, on the morning of the fight,
And with the Royal Scots were posted upon the British right.
“Ah! I never shall forget it, ’twas an evening in July,
Not a ripple stirred the river, not a cloud obscured the sky,
Swallows skimmed along the ridges, cattle browsed upon the plain,
Where, but thirty minutes after, lay the wounded and the slain.
“How the fight began I know not, but the sun had just gone down,
When the Yankees charged our centre, with their leaders Scott and Brown;
‘Steady boys,’ cried our Commander, ‘when you fire at all, aim low.’—
“We could see (so close they pressed us) their fierce eyes and faces pale;
We could hear their execrations when they found their efforts fail;
When they bay’netted our gunners, other gunners took their place;
Breast to breast we fought each other, though we were of kindred race.
Like the billows of the ocean they came on with mighty force;
As the rocks receive the billows, so we checked them in their course;
And our shot and shell ploughed through them, when defeated they fell back,
Making lanes in their battalions, leaving ruin in their track.
“Light departed, but the combat flashed and thundered all the same,
And the muskets sent forth volleys, and the cannon sheets of flame;
As the hour wore on the fighting grew more desperate than before,
And the terrors of the battle hushed loud Niagara’s roar.
On came Scott, who threw his columns ‘gainst our front and on our flanks,
But our Drummond, ever wary, met the shock with serried ranks;
On came Brown with levelled bay’net through the smoke and through the night.
We could see his steel line gleaming like a streak of morning light.
“Scott and Brown and the valiant Miller, they were baffled one by one,
And their bravest fell in hundreds, with the chiefs who led them on.
Still the odds were telling ‘gainst us (we were fighting one to three),
Till the cheers of fresh re’nforcements gave us hope of victory.
“Now a lull came in the battle, and the armies drew their breath,
And the moon from out the low’ring clouds shone on the fields of death.
Oh! my children! you could never, never wish for war again,
Had you seen that field of carnage—heard the groans of wounded men.
They were strewn along the valley, they were bleeding everywhere,
While the dying cried for water in the depths of their despair—
‘Here am I,’ mocked near Niagara, with its deep resounding roar;
‘Here am I, a mighty volume, falling water evermore!’
“Havoc paused but for a moment—soon the foe he charged again,
Making one last desperate effort, but in vain, ’twas all in vain;
For, though numbers sore oppressed us, still our hearts and steel were true,
And we kept our ground, as firmly rooted as the sturdy maple grew.
“Threw we then his shattered columns down the thrice ensanguined slope.
‘See the moon uprise,’ said Drummond, ‘now my boys no longer grope.
Charge!’ Oh how we cheered, and charged them till they broke and fled amain,
And they left us in possession of the field of Lundy’s Lane.”
“But the scar, Grandpa,” said Angus, “Tell us how you got the scar?”
“From a Yankee’s flashing sabre, ’twas an accident of war.”
“But they say, Grandpa, you killed him,” little Alice, breathless, cried:
“It is getting late, my children, let us home,” the veteran sighed.
Source: Morden, James C. Historical Monuments and Observatories of Lundy’s Lane and Queenston Heights. Niagara Falls: The Lundy’s Lane Historical Society, 1929.
At head of title: The following poem was lately discovered in an old scrapbook.