Collected by Frances Majors
For Mary C. Parler
Transcribed by Frances Majors
Sung by Mr. and Mrs. Parker Johnson
Route 1, West Fork, Arkansas
December 20, 1958
Reel 266, Item 6
Just Before The Last Great Charge
It was just before the last great charge
Two soldiers drew their rein;
With a shake of the hand and a parting word
They never might meet again.
One had blue eyes with curly hair,
Nineteen just a month ago;
Down on his chin and red on his cheek,
He were only a boy, you know.
The other was tall, stem, dark and proud,
This world to him was dim.
He only thought of those he loved
And those most dearest to him.
They had ridden together on many a raid
And marched on many a mile;
But not till now did they meet their foe
With a calm and hopeful smile.
Just then they faced each other
With a fearful, ghastly gloom.
The stern, dark man was the first to speak,
Saying, Charley, my hour has come.
We will ride together up this hill,
And if you ride back again,
You will promise to me little trouble to bring
When you find that I am gone.
I have a fair face on my breast.
I will wear it into the fight.
With a sunny curl and a bright blue eye
It is like the morning light.
The morning light it is dear to me;
It gladdens a lonely life;
But little she thought of the form of death
When she promised to be my wife.
Write to her, Charley, when I am gone;
Send back the fair, fond face.
Tell her gently where I died,
And where is my resting place.
Tell her my soul will wait for her
In the border line between
Heaven and earth,until she comes.
'Twill not be long between
The Last Great Charge (Cont'd)
Reel 266, Item 6 (Cont'd)
The tears they dimmed in the blue-eyed boy,
And his heart was low with pain.
I will do your bidding, comrade dear,
If I return again.
But if I should die and you should return,
You will do the same for me.
I have a mother that's waiting at home.
Write to her tenderly.
One after another of those she loved,
She has buried her husband and son,
And I was the last my country called;
She kissed me and bade me on.
She is waiting at home like a weeping saint,
Her face all covered with woe.
Her heart will be broken when I am gone;
I will see her soon I know.
Just then the order was given to march;
An instand hand touched hand.
Answered they as on they rushed
That brace and devoted band.
They rode till they came to the crest of the hill,
Where the enemy shot and shelled,
Poured drifts of death among their ranks
And jeered them as they fell.
Just then they turned with a horrible yell,
For the heights they could not gain;
And all that doom and death had spared
Marched slowly back again.
But among the dead that were left behind
Was the boy with the curly hair.
And the stern, dark man that rode by his side
Lay dead beside him there.
There was no one to write to the blue-eyed girl
What her fond lover said;
Or the mother at home that's waiting her son
Little knows that he is dead.
And little they know of the last kind words,
Those words to soften their pain,
Until they cross the river of death
And stand by their sides again.
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