Posted by: Democratic Thinker | December 13, 2009

Of Conscience and Courage



Cub Sawbones.


WHEN we marched away with the starry flag,
Cub Sawbones carried his surgeon’s bag;
But for me—I wanted no rear in mine—
I shouldered a gun in the fighting line.

So when we had charged up the deadly glade
Where the dons were lying in ambuscade,
I was there to take what the others got—
And the Spaniards gave it, plenty and hot.

There fell of our crowd in the Mauser hail
A third—yet never a man did quail,
But—well, we went back—then came again
And settled right down to our work like men.

In open order and firing at will,
We crawled through a very rough skirmish drill—
From the trees to the rocks, from the rocks to the trees,
Just as close to the ground as we could freeze.

When I noted a tangled thicket sway
In front about twenty-five yards away,
I halted, made ready to loosen a storm—
Till I caught a whiff of iodoform.

Cub Sawbones, alone with the wounded folk,
Was cobbling the limbs that the bullets broke;
He bent to his task with the tenderest care;
Though the war-bolts were hissing everywhere.

I hailed him with our old college yell,—
He grinned, as he watched a bursting shell.
“You have a great nerve to be here,” he said,
“When you’re not a doctor—or wounded—or dead!”

—Sydney Reid
New York Sun, July 9, 1898.

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