Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Cockade Poetry

Cockades have inspired patriotism, riots, arrests, and all manner of violent newspaper articles. But did you know they have also inspired some amazing poetry?

The cockade poetry of the Civil War era alone can be funny, romantic or heartwarming, depending on its message. Here's a fun glimpse at some of the poems in the 1860s about cockades.

Cockades and Blockades

This poem in the northern Cleveland Morning Leader is Victorian snark at its best, reveling in the secessionists apparent comeuppance for wearing those dratted cockades!

In Charleston that hot-bed of traitors and tories,
Where rebels first mounted secession cockades,
The people are learning the beauties and glories,
Of one of old Abraham’s Union blockades.

Insolent Foemen Meets Blue Cockade

Not to be outdone in poetic patriotism, Miss Sallie Ada Reedy submitted this poem to the Texas States Rights Democrat.

The stranger who crosses our threshold must come
In faith that a Southerner never betrayed;
For the South, the beautiful south is our home,
And her pride is the Boys with the Blue Cockade.
We've kindled her altars, and still to the end,
With hand clasped in hand we will stand by her fires,
As brothers united to guard and defend
The beautiful land where we've buried our sires,
No stranger of insolent foeman shall tread
O'er the graves where the dust of our heroes is laid.
Our mothers and daughters - our living and dead -
We'll trust to the Boys with the Blue Cockade.

Blue Cockade Knight

"Writing to Friends At Home."
Civil War Harper's Weekly, July 20, 1861
This romantic poem was written by a soldier who received a handcrafted cockade from "Miss Mary." You can't help but wonder if there isn't a love story that goes along with this!

"In hoc signo vinces," *
Was the old Crusader' cry.
As he sped him to the battle,
With his banner waiving high.

And his heart was nerved with strength
By the cross, his battle-sign,
So shall this work, of thy fair hand -
This Blue Cockade - nerve mine!

And in a holier conflict
Than Crusader ever knew,
I'll strike for Home and Southern Rights -
For Glory, and - for YOU!

And should I live to win and wear
A soldier's well-earned fame,
But let my "bounty" be thy smile
Tis all that I would claim.

But if I fall, O! strive my soul
With thy fond tear and prayer;
Then seek this emblem next my heart -
You'll find it treasured there!

*Roughly translated: “With this badge, I conquer”

Gallant Laddies

Mary Walsingham Crean of Charleston, SC was another lady who wrote cockade poetry. The final stanza of this poem breathes the celtic fire that animated South Carolinians in 1861.

The foes they come with thunder, and with blood and fire arrayed,
And they swear that we shall own them - they the masters, we the slaves;
But there's many a gallant laddie, who wears a blue cockade,
Will show them what it is to dare the blood of Southern braves!
And God be with the banner of those gallant Southern braves!
They may nobly die as freemen - they can never live as slaves!


Off for the War, The Soldier’s Adieu.
Currier & Ives.

On Thy Breast... the Blue Cockade

My personal favorite is "The Confederate Soldier's Wife Parting From Her Husband," an inspiring poem of a woman's charge to her spouse as he goes off to war. It faces the reality of death in battle with the unconquerable determination to do what's right, regardless of consequences.

This is the spirit that animated our forefathers, North and South, as they fought in the greatest conflict our nation has known. I find it a good inspiration for today as well, as we face the battles of our own day.

Here is thy trusty blade!
Take it, and wield it in a glorious cause;
Defend our firesides, battle for the laws
Which our forefathers made;
And stay, that on thy breast my hand
May place the blue cockade!

Go forth to conquer; where
The battle rages fiercest thou wilt be,
And I will glory that my Love is there
Struggling for Liberty.
Haste to the battle field!
Thy country calls thee to the deadly fight
Go forth undaunted in thy manhood's might,
Thy noble cause thy shield;
And if thou fallest - hush, heart, thine agony
God will defend the right!

Where the Palmetto waves
O'er manly hearts that struggle to be free,
That bid defiance bold to Tyranny;
Where hospitable graves
Are widely yawning for the reckless foe,
My lip can bid thee, best beloved, go!
What if thou fallest? my heart will throb to know
He died, O South, for thee!


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