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(03/02/1990 / Washington)

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fifty cents a day

I am an humble Soldier
far from my friends and home,
mid scenes of war and hardships
I constantly must roam,
with many officers over me,
and them I must obey,
and do just what they tell me,
for fifty cents a day.

I enlisted in the army
to help my country's cause,
because I loved it dearly,
and would sustain its laws,
I felt a free man's duty,
his country to obey,
I came not as a hireling,
for fifty cents a day

I enlisted as a soldier.
a free man and a man
To do a soldiers duty,
as best a soldier can.
hope to fight the rebels,
and hate this long delay.
I came to help my country,
for fifty cents a day.

I now must yield to hardships
in cold in storm and rain
perchance with scanty rations
not even then complain
the right of seeking comfort
long since I signed away
my life I am slowly losing
for fifty cents a day.

who send the soldiers to the field
to buy his willing hand,
with promises so plentiful,
of treatment like a man?
twas those who, in two days,
received a larger pay
than does the soldiers in a month
at fifty cents a day

who promised to the soldier,
his wrongs should be redressed
if tyanny or officers
should his right oppress?
alas! the sword may smight him,
or kicked around he may be,
he finds his only redress,
is fifty cents a day

who promised to the soldiers,
if sickness should appear,
good doctors and kind nurses
was ready and was near,
to aid him in his feebleness
as quick as though his pay
was ten times as much
as fifty cents a day.

twas those who wear the shoulder straps
with haughty air of grace,
who look upon the soldier
below the negro race,
who thinks a soldier's duty
is only to obey
his lordship, and be content
with fifty cents a day.

how oft I've seen the soldier,
near tottering to the ground,
seek vainly for some friendly aid,
when it could ne'er be found,
when told he was not ailing,
to go and take his way,
one week would end his suffering
and fifty cents a day.

now, how many of these officers
would be here where they are,
if forced to live like soldiers,
and take a soldier's fare?
how few would take the treatment
even with their liberal pay,
let alone the poor pittance
of fifty cents a day

cheer up my gallant soldiers,
be cheerful, gay, and smile,
we'll do the fighting now,
and the voting after awhile,
and then we'll show oppressors
that they may fell dismay,
who treated us as serviles,
at fifty cents a day.


This poem was written by my great, great, great, grandfather when he was a POW in the civil war. He wrote this during the month of December 1863. I wanted to share this with everyone in memory of him.

Submitted: Friday, March 30, 2007
Edited: Wednesday, February 09, 2011


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Comments about this poem (Hand in Hand by Shauna Stoltz )

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  • Lisa Wallace (5/4/2007 4:36:00 PM)

    Shauna This is a terrific poem! I am currently in the process of gathering together poems which I am going to send to our troops overseas. I would love to be able to use this one. You can email me at soldiersangels01@hotmail.com.

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