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7th Vermont Infantry

Poetry

Luman Ballou's
Poems of the War

As his diaries show, Luman Ballou showed the gift of poesy early. Over four decades later, his published poems reflected on the War of Rebellion and his service in the Department of the Gulf, 1864-66. His book, "Wayside Musings" (copyright L.A. Ballou, 1911, Fleming H. Revell Press, New York) carried two reflections on the War.

A SOLDIER'S MUSINGS

I left my dear home and friends far away,
	All for a soldier to be,
For the same reason which many have had,
	Which affords little pleasure to me.
My prospect of joy in the fair sunny South,
	Is far too small to discern,
But Dina she has no love for me,
	Therefore I don't wish to return.

It's no trifling matter a soldier to be,
	Mid carnage and strife to be found,
But like a true soldier my duty I'll do,
	If I like some others go down;
And if amid-battle I meet my death blow,
And launch my bark off from life's shore,
Adieu my dear friends, likewise ye fair one,
My few little troubles are o'er.

The Dina he refers to is probably Dina A. Risdon, of Danby, who may have been a cousin on his mother's side, about age 24 at the time of his enlistment.

AN ACROSTIC

FOR A COMRADE AND TENTMATE IN THE U.S. SERVICE

Come Here And Read Life's Earnest Story
Here lies the secret few have found.
All seems inclined to greed or glory,
Resting not till aged and hoary.
Life's greatest round is but a bound,
Earnest effort should be found,
Some good to do while time's before thee.
Hark.

Look After Reason, Keep It Near
And with wisdom fill the mind.
Righteous conduct feels no fear,
Kindness oft makes others kind.
Incline to justice strong and clear,
Naught has earth to harm you here.

The first letters of each word in the first and second stanzas spell Charles H. Larkin, and the first letter of each word in the first line spells Charles. Horizontally and vertically, this is Ballou's acrostic. 4Cpl. Charley Larkin, of Andover, became a lasting friend. The two rejoined after the war when Luman Ballou moved from Tinmouth, near Danby Borough, and bought a farm in Andover.

In the introduction to his second book, "Echoes of Memory," (copyright L. A. Ballou, 1918, Fleming H. Revell) his wife Mary Draper Ballou notes "The present war is an absorbing topic for thought and talk, and the author of '61 again offered his services to his country in this her hour of need, but was told 'You're too old.'"

Walter Giersbach,
Luman Ballou's great-grandson


Ballou homepage 1864 Journal 1865 Journal 1866 Journal Poetry Obituary

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