Some Gifts from Tracey Baldwin


  I was going through a box of "old memories" which includes some of my grandmother's things.  Minnie May ALTSMAN Barrett (1891-1986) was the daughter of a Confederate drummer boy, James Madison ALTSMAN (Pemiscot Co., MO). She loved poetry as a child and collected poems from magazines and newspapers.  This is one poem, now yellowed and cracked, that was pasted into an old notebook (the writing behind is of more value, genealogically speaking, than the collection of dates to 1884-1885 and seems to be minutes of a lodge---Van Buren Co., AR).  Anyway, here is the poem:

"When the Cruel War is Over"

Dearest love, do you remember
    When we last did meet,
How you told me that you loved me,
    Kneeling at my feet?
Oh, how proud you stood before me
    In your suite of gray,
When you vowed for me and country
    Ne'er to go astray.

When the summer breeze is sighing
    Mournfully along
Or when autumn leaves are falling
    Sadly breathes the song.
Oft in dreams I see you lying
    On the battle plain,
Lonely, wounded, even dying,
    Calling, but in vain.

If amid the din of battle
    Nobly you should fall,
Far away from those who love you,
    None to hear you call
Who would whisper words of comfort?
    Who would soothe your pain?
Ah!  the many cruel fancies,
    Even in my brain!
But our country calls you, loved one---
    Angels guide your way.
While our Southern sons are fighting
    We can only pray
When you strike for God and freedom
    Let all nations see
How you loved your Southern banner---
    Emblem of the free.

Weeping, sad and lonely,
    Signs and tears in vain.
When this cruel war is over,
    Praying to meet again.

Author Unknown

There are 2 other poems in the notebook that were written during/about the war:  "The Drummer Boy of Shiloh" and "The Bonnie Blue Flag", if anyone
would like to read them.

Best regards,
Tracey Baldwin


On Shiloh's dark and bloody ground
    The dead and wounded lay;
Among them was a drummer boy
    Who beat the drum that day.
A wounded soldier held him up,
    His drum was by his side;
He clasped his hands and raised his eyes
    And prayed before he died.

Look down upon the battlefield,
    Oh!  Thou, our heavenly friend,
Have mercy on our sinful souls---
    The soldiers cried, Amen!
For gathered round a little group
    Each brave man knelt and cried,
They listened to the drummer boy
    Who prayed before he died.

"Oh, mother," prayed the dying boy,
    "Look down from heaven on me;
Receive me to thy fond embrace,
    O, take me home to thee.
I love my country as my God,
    To serve them I have tried."
I smiled, shook hands, death seized the boy
    Who prayed before he died.

Each soldier wept then like a child,
    Stout hearts were they and brave,
The flag, his winding sheet, God's book,
    The key into the grave.
They wrote upon a single board
    These words:  "This is a guide
To those who mourn the drummer boy
    Who prayed before he died."

Ye angels, round the throne of grace,
    Look down upon the braves
Who fought and died on Shiloh's plains,
    Now slumbering in their graves.
How many homes are desolate, how many
        hearts have sighed,
    How many like the drummer boy,
Have prayed before they died.

Author Unknown
From the childhood poetry collection of my grandmother, Minnie May ALTSMAN Barrett (1891-1986), daughter of a Confederate "drummer boy" (James Madison ALTSMAN, 1846-1915) who served from Pemiscot Co., MO.

Tracey Baldwin

On to Part Two