Bivouac of the Dead Markers - Gettysburg National Military Park - Gettysburg, PA
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Math Teacher
N 39° 49.140 W 077° 13.901
18S E 308993 N 4410051
Quick Description: There are tablets to be found inside the Soldier's National Cemetery. Each tablet, found on the inside ring of Upper Cemetery Drive, contains a stanza of this rather long poem.
Location: Pennsylvania, United States
Date Posted: 10/21/2011 6:54:35 PM
Waymark Code: WMCX4B
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
Views: 4

Long Description:

In 1882, the poem Bivouac of the Dead was placed in this cemetery on 17 tablets (only 8 remain). Two actually repeat themselves for some reason so there are only 7 original tablets. I was able to capture photos of seven of the markers. Since none of the ones I snapped repeat, there is a supposed eighth one out there somewhere which repeats one of the ones I found inside the cemetery. Some of the markers have an oxidized blue edge, they are probably original. The others have black edges, which appear to be replacements. Each stanza is broken into two parts for two separate tablets. The poem has 12 stanzas or paragraphs.

Part I of the first stanza I surmised to be the beginning of the series so that is my posted coordinates. This opening tablet is found in the southern end of the park, closest to the Taneytown entrance. The nomination form says there were originally 17 tablets. By my calculations there should be 24 tablets which means the entire poem was never displayed at the cemetery. The tablets are classified as contributing structure #CM08. Below is the poem. The parts that are on the tablets at the cemetery are in red font.


The muffled drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last tattoo;
No more on life's parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On Fame's eternal camping-ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And Glory guards, with solemn round,
The bivouac of the dead.

No rumor of the foe's advance
Now swells upon the wind;
Nor troubled thought at midnight haunts
Of loved ones left behind;
No vision of the morrow's strife
The warrior's dream alarms;
No braying horn nor screaming fife
At dawn shall call to arms.

Their shriveled swords are red with rust,
Their plumed heads are bowed,
Their haughty banner, trailed in dust,
Is now their martial shroud.
And plenteous funeral tears have washed
The red stains from each brow,
And the proud forms, by battle gashed
Are free from anguish now.

The neighing troop, the flashing blade,
The bugle's stirring blast,
The charge, the dreadful cannonade,
The din and shout, are past;

Nor war's wild note nor glory's peal
Shall thrill with fierce delight
Those breasts that nevermore may feel
The rapture of the fight.

Like the fierce northern hurricane
That sweeps the great plateau,
Flushed with the triumph yet to gain,
Came down the serried foe,
Who heard the thunder of the fray
Break o'er the field beneath,
Knew well the watchword of that day
Was "Victory or death!"

Long had the doubtful conflict raged
O'er all that stricken plain,
For never fiercer fight had waged
The vengeful blood of Spain;
And still the storm of battle blew,
Still swelled the gory tide;
Not long, our stout old chieftain knew,
Such odds his strength could bide.

Twas in that hour his stern command
Called to a martyr's grave
The flower of his beloved land,
The nation's flag to save.
By rivers of their father's gore
His first-born laurels grew,
And well he deemed the sons would pour
Their lives for glory too.

For many a mother's breath has swept
O'er Angostura's plain --
And long the pitying sky has wept
Above its moldered slain.
The raven's scream, or eagle's flight,
Or shepherd's pensive lay,
Alone awakes each sullen height
That frowned o'er that dread fray.

Sons of the Dark and Bloody Ground
Ye must not slumber there,
Where stranger steps and tongues resound
Along the heedless air.
Your own proud land's heroic soil
Shall be your fitter grave;
She claims from war his richest spoil --
The ashes of her brave.

Thus 'neath their parent turf they rest,
Far from the gory field,
Borne to a Spartan mother's breast
On many a bloody shield;
The sunshine of their native sky
Smiles sadly on them here,
And kindred eyes and hearts watch by
The heroes sepulcher.

Rest on embalmed and sainted dead!
Dear as the blood ye gave;
No impious footstep shall here tread
The herbage of your grave;

Nor shall your glory be forgot
While fame her records keeps,
Or Honor points the hallowed spot
Where Valor proudly sleeps.

Yon marble minstrel's voiceless stone
In deathless song shall tell,
When many a vanquished ago has flown,
The story how ye fell;
Nor wreck, nor change, nor winter's blight,
Nor Time's remorseless doom,
Shall dim one ray of glory's light
That gilds your deathless tomb.

From the nomination form:

Short Significance Description:
Series of 8 tablets tribulizing the valor of the dead soldiers interred in the National Cemetery.

Short Physical Description:
Series of 8 tablets of original 17, placed around Cemetery Loop. Inscribed w/ stanzas from Theodore O'Hara's "Bivouac of the Dead", 7 stanzas remain, 1 repeated in tablet series. Approx. size 2'x4' mounted at a slant, 2'H.

My Sources
1. NRHP Narrative

Name of Historic District (as listed on the NRHP): Gettysburg National Military Park Historic District

Link to page with the Historic District: [Web Link]

NRHP Historic District Waymark (Optional): [Web Link]

Taneytown Road Entrance Upper Cemetery Drive Soldiers' National Cemetery Gettysburg, PA 17325

How did you determine the building to be a contributing structure?: Narrative found on the internet (Link provided below)

Optional link to narrative or database: [Web Link]

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