Alfred Biddleton McCreary Poems, Very little biographical detail exists for this 19th-century American poet and soldier. Neither date of birth nor death can be confirmed and what follows is extracted from material supplied by a great-grandson, Mr Ron Holcombe.
Alfred Biddleton McCreary was born, probably sometime during the 1840s, in the small town of Bradner which lies in the northwestern part of Ohio.
At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 McCreary said goodbye to his family and friends for what would be a prolonged period of military service.
He enlisted in the 26th Ohio Volunteer Infantry whose allegiance was to the Union side. He was stationed in the West Virginia area for around a year before moving to Kentucky. It was a costly campaign for McCreary’s regiment as they would go on to lose a huge proportion of their men at bloody battles such as Missionary Ridge, Chickamauga and the Siege of Corinth.
The regiment saw further service in the Atlanta campaign waged by General Sherman until finally being decommissioned in Texas in 1865. McCreary’s military career did not end there though as he served with the 16th Kansas Cavalry on the Western Frontier.
He wrote poetry and letters home whenever he could and was ideally placed to observe, with great sadness, the impact on the way of life that was gradually being taken away from the Native Americans.
Alfred Biddleton McCreary Poems
In Old Tennessee
At my post I am standing, it’s a dark dreary night,
This scenery around me shut out from my sight,
With my gun in my hand I stand thus alone,
While my thoughts they are wandering to the loved ones at home.
Perchance in their slumbers they are dreaming of me,
While I stand here on picket in old Tennessee.
With my cartridge box on, filled with powder and lead,
I stand winking and thinking and nodding my head.
I rouse up again and rub hard my eyes,
And peep out in the darkness to see rebel spies;
Not a sound can I hear, not a soul can I see,
There is no one here but grim darkness and me.So I lean on my gun while my thoughts again roam,
To the circle of loved ones I left at my home.
There is a father with locks grown quite grey,
Who is anxiously thinking of his son far away,
Not knowing how soon he might see that son’s name,
Among those who in battle are wounded or slain.
There’s mother, what a charm in that word,
What a thrill it creates when e’er it is heard;
The council she gave me looms up from afar,
And shines in my pathway like morn’s guiding star.
And you brothers and sisters, me thinks I can see
So earnestly looking for letters from me.
While scanning the Union news for Rosa to find,
Yes, brothers and sisters, you are oft’ in my mind,
And the letters you send me I read with delight,
And ponder their contents in standing by night.
Far away a sentry so silent and lone,
Who is there can blame me for thinking of home.
There is another, both young, bright and fair,
While my thoughts again roam comes in for a share.
The sweet hours we spent seems like a dream,
In contrast with the present, so hallowed it seems.
I wonder if ever she thinks of the one
That is now standing picket alone with his gun.
Yes I know that she does, how gladly I hale
The assurance she sends so oft’ by mail.
So kind and so true, ah! she shed bitter tears
When my name was enrolled with the brave volunteers.
I would say to her ere my thoughts she could see,
Her letters are welcome, most welcome to me.
With feet sore and weary in returning to camp,
A kind letter repays me for the long weary tramp.
Bright steps in my pathway they find me alone,
The sweet loving letters she sends me from home.
Two hours on, four off, we must stand the night through
All are rejoiced when the relief comes in view.
Then we’ll present, return, to right shoulder shift and to camp we’ll return,
Thus hour after hour, and day after day,
Our routine of duty passes slowly away.
While you friends in the north with solicitous care,
Are watching the progress we make in the war.
But we will assure you, with Rosa to guide,
Our banner o’er victory we’ll always inscribe.
Wherever the Cumberland army shall go,
Whey are brave sons of freedom, as the world can ever know.
The butternuts find us too much for their nettle,
When brave Rosa moves on, they are sure to skedaddle.
We’ll closely pursue them with saber and sword,
Until the last rebel’s banished and peace is restored.
And the stars and stripes float triumphant again,
O’er the land that is pierced with all this loyal men.
Homeward we’ll turn, we’ll sing as we go,
Oh friends we are coming, we’ve conquered the foe.
The rebs are defeated, all put to rout,
Rebellion is ended, secession is played out.
There are many, who will shed bitter tears
For the loss in the struggle of our brave volunteers.
There are many, who in anguish will morn,
For the brave soldiers who will never return
If it should be my lot in the struggle to fall,
Dear friends in the north, I will say to you all,
Mourn not at the fate which may take me from you,
The patriots grave with no tears I view.
He who tempers the wind to the lamb that is shorn,
Will guide, guard and protect you when I am gone.
We hope for the best, sad thoughts to dispel,
We trust in the end that all will be well.
The day will soon come when our friends we will greet,
And the circle of loved ones again we will meet.
So keep up good courage till rebellion is crushed,
Remember dear sister, our cause it is just.
Above are my thoughts and I send them to thee,
From your ever true brother in old Tennessee.