Contributed by James J. Vesey
Note from James Vesey: I've traced a lot of these names, and they connect to Sumner Co. TN...I
descend from the brother of William Ferrell in the poem.
THE OLD CAPTAIN OF 1838 AND THE ROLL-
CALL AT PLEASANT HILL, MO., IN 1881
Me thought the small log house was there,
Where Wright his goods was selling,
And customers and idlers were
Their jokes and stories telling.
When suddenly to me appeared,
Upon the door-still standing,
A man with gray and grisly beard,
But with a mien commanding.
His dress was of the olden style,
Like men of old were wearing,
And in his belt a sword the while
I saw the man was bearing.
He wore a hat with narrow shade,
One that we called a "Roram,"
And on that hat was a cockade,
As officers once wore 'em.
He nothing said to us, although
He quickly drew attention,
And that we asked his name to know
I scarcely need to mention.
When, making a polite salaam,
And flourishing his saber,
He said: "I'll tell you what I am,
And what I was - your neighbor.
"A captain of the olden time,
When men were wont to muster;
And they would stake their bottom dime
On Captain Bill Gallbuster.
"Some of the men of long ago
Can Captain Bill remember;
That was the May of life, you know,
But now 'tis chill December.
"I'm now a wreck, a wreck you see,
A vessel well nigh stranded;
I'm here to-day but where - ah me!
The men that I commanded?
"I look in vain for carbineer,
I look in vain for laucer;
I'll call the roll - I've got it here-
And see just who will answer."
And taking from his bosom then
A paper worn and faded,
He said: "This is the roll of men
Who once with me paraded;
"I fain would know how many's here,
Or where the Fates have thrown 'em."
He called the nanes, distinct and clear,
And thus commented on 'em:
"Anthony Bledsoe, Nathan Creek,
Speak, if attention giving;
William Warden - do I seek
The dead amongst the living?
"William A. Butler, Jesse too,
John S., and Joab Brothers -
Dead! Or gone to Texas' true
Of them and many others.
"Hiram Savage, Milton Creek,
And Hezekiah Warden;
They answer not, they do not speak -
And silent Andrew Gordon.
"Allen Yocham, Watson Lynch
Silent as the grave are;
Andrew Wilson, Charley Myers -
Gone! Ah, gone the brave are!
"John Phillips, T. and Mordecai,
John Gibson, Bill, and Thomas,
And William Burgin - gone! They say,
By death all taken from us.
"Peter Welch and James Bledsoe,
Thomas, James, and Joel Riddle;
William Moore and J. Hinshaw -
All gone, with John A. Weddle.
Alfred G.* and Jerry Sloane* -"
'Here, Here,' they feebly answer;
'Old and frail, and feeble grown,
We fain would march, but can't sir.'
"James Gibson - no response I hear;
James Lawrence - dead and buried!
James Reynolds - been for many a year
Beyond the river ferried.
"Sam McAninch - here, did he say?
How few, how faint the answers!
James and Isaac Dunnaway;
Gone, gone, courageous lancers.
"Samuel Burgin - where is he?
And where his brother Thomas?
Joined that larger company,
That Death has taken from us.
"Moses Bailey answers, here;
Wiley Bailey also, present;
But no responsive voice I hear
From their good brother Pleasant.
"Jacob Miller, John, and James -
Silence deep and solemn;
No more they'll answer to their names,
From out the muster-column.
"John Golding* faintly answers, here;
His merry laugh has left him;
Though Death has spared his life, I hear
He's oftentimes bereft him.
"Noah Williams - where is he?
And where is T.J. Carey?
They'll drill no more; they're muster free,
And resting with the weary.
"Jerry Farmer* answers, here;
Glad to see you, very;
Beneath another Captain's care
You're marching homeward, Jerry.
"Green E. Story - answer none;
Hosea Williams, Henry Farmer -
Silent all; their marching's done,
They've laid aside their armor.
"John Burriss next, then Bailey Cook;
James Williams, John McCarty -
I hear them not; in vain I look;
They'll no more join our party.
"John Robinson and James H. May,
Josiah Heeran also,
Luke Williams - all, all far away;
Then why, why need I call so?
"Henry, and McClain, Corlew,
Morgan, Wash., and William Briants,
Martin Langston, Samson too -
Tall as modern giants.
"Zorobabel Langston, tall
Solomon, and Larkin,
Jesse Langston, thought I call,
Not one of them will hearken.
"Mastin Burriss* answers, here;
Indeed, and is it Mastin?
Almost the first old pioneer,
And may be, too, the last one.
"William H. Myers answers, here;
So answers Caswell Estes:*
'We're tottering on life's journey drear,
And years with weight have pressed us.'
"Wesley Lynch and James Malone -
No answer, none whatever;
Far, far away, in Oregon,
They crossed Death's icy river.
"Martin Rice and Allen James*-
'Here, here.' They faintly falter;
Once more they answer to their names,
But, oh, how features alter!
"Isaac Smith and Austin Smith -
No answer comes from either;
Gone to the grave, their kindred with,
And soon we, too, will be there.
"James Smith* - I hear, or seem to hear,
A faint and faltering answer:
'Excuse me, Cap, I can't be there -
Confined at home with cancer.'
"Silas Williams, Charley Whig;*
Their rosy cheeks have faded;
They'll come no more, with martial rig,
To where we once paraded.
"Wyatt Adkins - where is he?
Ben C., and James, and Carroll,
Thomas Carter - gone, ah me!
And hone is William Ferrill.
"Andrew Farmer, Moses too,
Frederic, bold, and Thomas -
They've passed the river Jordan through,
Into the land of promise.
"William H. Duncan - answer none;
Walter Taylor - deep the silence;
James B. Porter - he is gone,
Fell by the hand of violence.
"Edley Hooper - silent too;
H.,K., and Wesley Underwood -
They answer not; or, if they do,
The answer in not understood.
"William Wright, the merchant - ho!
David Rice, his salesman -
Gone, they're gone long time ago,
With Death, the cruel pale-man.
Abram Beldsoe, Sampson too,
John, and Fields, and Willis -
They answer not amongst the few;
All dead! Or gone, they tell us.
"Isaac Bledsoe - where is he?
John and William Stephens?
Where is Burney (William P.),
And where is Dennis Evans?
"Where is good John Colburn, brave?
Where is David Ousley?
Filling now a soldier's grave;
'Tis there the laureled brows lie.
"James Wilson answers, 'I am here;'
But where is Will, and Henderson?
They answer not, those brothers dear -
And silent Gideon Henderson.
"A.C. Tidwell - where is he?
Where is Presly Bryant?
Where is Bowling Savage, he
Of disposition pliant?
"Francis Prine, the colonel - ho!
The fluent tongue now still is -
James L. Duncan lying low,
Beneath the drooping lilies.
"Hezekiah Smith - not here;
Still the bounding pulse is,
Gone to the grave within the year;
And there, too, Johnson Stults is.
"William Jones, the wheelwright - gone!
And almost gone his calling;
Elliott Wilbourne, Moreton (John) -
Both numbered' mongst the fallen.
"Charles English, Patrick Talbot - ho!
No answer from them coming;
The Doctor's gone long time ago,
And silent Charley's drumming.
"Henry Ousley, Anthony too -
They answer not my calling;
Of all my men, how few, how few!
And they are yearly falling.
"Gone are the men of thirty-eight,
And eighteen thirty-seven;
To call my roll is now too late;
That roll's been called in heaven.
"On earth" no more I'll call the roll
Of men that answer never;
I'll fold it up, the ancient scroll,
And call no more forever.
"'Tis sad to say, 'tis sad to tell;
The company's disbanded:
And Captain Bill now bids farewell
To those he once commanded."
Then clarion-like, I thought he blew
An ancient bugle, seeming;
But 'twas, perhaps, the cock that crew,
And waked me from my dreaming.
* Since dead
Talks and Tales of Olden Times,
Collection of Poems and Old-Time Stories,
GRAVE, HUMOROUS, DIDACTIC, SENTIMENTAL, AND DESCRIPTIVE.
WRITTEN AT DIFFERENT TIMES AND UNDER DIFFERENT
LONE JACK, MO.
Hudson-Kimberly Pub. Co.
Return to Interesting Sumner Tidbits Page
Return to Sumner County Main Page