All Quiet Along the Potomac To-night
Lyricist: Ethel Lynn Beers
Composer: John Hill Hewitt
(published by Miller & Beacham, Baltimore, 1863)
“All quiet along the Potomac to-night”,
Except here and there a stray picket
Is shot as he walks on his beat to and fro,
By a rifleman hid in the thicket;
’Tis nothing! a private or two now and then,
Will not count in the news of the battle,
Not an officer lost! only one of the men
Moaning out all alone the death rattle.
“All quiet along the Potomac to-night!”
“All quiet along the Potomac to-night”,
here the soldiers lie peacefully dreaming,
And their tents in the rays of the clear autumn moon,
And the light of the camp fires are gleaming;
There’s only the sound of the lone sentry’s tread,
As he tramps from the rock to the fountain,
And thinks of the two in the low trundle bed,
Far away in the cot on the mountain.
Then drawing his sleeve roughly o’er his eyes,
He dashes off the tears that are welling,
And gathers his gun close up to his breast,
As if to keep down the heart’s swelling;
He passes the fountain, the blasted pine tree,
And his footstep is lagging and weary,
Yet onward he goes, thro’ the broad belt of light,
Toward the shades of the forest so dreary.
3. 5.
His musket falls slack his face, dark and grim,
Grows gentle with memories tender,
As he mutters a pray’r for the children asleep,
And their mother “May heaven defend her!”
The moon seems to shine as brightly as then
That night, when the love yet unspoken
Leap’d up to his lips,and when low murmur’d vows
Were pledg’d, to be ever unbroken.
Hark! was it the night-wind that rustles the leaves!
Was it moonlight so wond’rously flashing?
It look’d like a rifle! “Ha, Mary, good bye!”
And his life-blood is ebbing and plashing.
“All quiet along the Potomac to-night,”
No sound save the rush of the river;
While soft falls the dew on the face of the dead
“The Picket’s” off duty for ever.