HARD TACK
by Dr. William Taylor (1863) ( Parody of 'Excelsior' By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ) The shades of night were falling fast, As through our picket lines there passed A youth, encased in rags and lice, Who bore a scroll with this device Hard Tack: His eyes were sunk, his feet beneath Passed from a nameless leather sheath, And in a hollow voice he sung With mournful tone and trembling tongue, Hard Tack: Oh stay, the Commissary said, To-morrow we'll have lots of bread, The Youth, he slowly shut one eye And onward passing, heaved a sigh, Hard Tack: Beware of Dobson, Wells, and Jones, Instead of beef who give you bones, This was the butchers last good night, The youth replied far out of sight, Hard Tack: At break of day, as several boys From Maine, New York, and Illinois Were eating "slap jacks" through the air They heard the accent of despair, Hard Tack: The youth was found and by his side An empty haversack was tied, Still holding in his hand of ice That banner of a strange device, Hard Tack: There in the twilight, dark and gray, A living skeleton he lay, And from a place he dare not tell, There came one last unearthly YELL! Hard Tack.
The end