“A Soldier’s Heart”

The Soldier’s Heart

This poem was written (or more accurately-copied) by Fletcher Mulkey during his stint as a soldier and sent to Alice Hawkins.

The Transcription


The Soldier’s Heart

It is not on the battle Field
That I would wish to die
It is not on a broken shield
I’d breath my latest sigh
And tho a Soldier knows not how
To dread a Soldier’s doom
I ask no laurel for my tomb {brow?}
No trophy for my tomb

It is not that I scorn the wreath
A Soldier proudly wears
It is not that I fear the death
A Solider proudly dares
When slaughtered comrades round me lie
I’d be the last to yeald
But yet I would not wish to die
Up on the battle field

When faint and bleeding in the fray
Oh still let me retain
Enough of life to crawl away
To this sweet {vale?} again
For like {?} wounded wary dove
That flitters to its nest
I fain would reach my own dear love
And die upon her breast

A true copy of a Soldiers heart that
is in love. Sent from the Army to Miss Alice H

Notes on the Poem


The first version of this poem I have found was published in 1842 in a collection of poetry called Book of the poets: the modern poets of the nineteenth century, attributed to Thomas Haynes Bayly and titled “It is not on the Battlefield”. It was also published under the title “The Soldier’s Wish” in 1850 in a book entitled Songs of Love and Beauty and the authorship is listed as unknown. However, the title as published in Rufus W Griswold’s Gift of Affection: A Souvenir for 1853, was “It is not on the Battlefield” and it is attributed to TH Bailey[sic]. As the document here is undated it is difficult to know whether this was copied from one of these collections or from some other source.

From the evidence it appears that the title was “It is on the battlefield” and it was originally written by (or at least mostly attributed to) TH Bayly. The other fact I can gather is that, although the rest of the text appears not to be changed from these published versions, Fletcher changed the title to “The Soldier’s Heart” himself because while it did have multiple names “The Soldier’s Heart” is not one that I found anywhere.

The document above was folded in fourths and sent (presumably) by mail to Alice Hawkins. Below is the back side of this document which is addressed to her.

It is fairly common to see Civil War letters written on blue paper. Color had been used in American printing since about 1815, but because the vatman had his hands in the pulp to the elbows, colorants were used sparingly. Because of the expense of adding color in other ways, colored paper did not become widely used until closer to mid-century. However, by the beginning of the Civil War it was quite common to see blue paper such as this. Later in the war, around 1864, the blue paper was even used to wrap the cartridge of a certain type of bullet, the Williams Cleaner Type III.

Untitled Poem: Side 1
Untitled Poem: Side 2
A Soldier’s Heart
Why These Documents Matter

 

Dublin Core

Title
A Soldier’s Heart

Subject
Confederacy

Description
A poem copied and sent from Fletcher Mulkey to Alice Hawkins

Creator
Fletcher Mulkey

Source
UNT Special Collections

Date
1861-1863

Contributor
Civil War Museum

Relation
Civil War Collection

Format
Document

Language
English

Type
Text

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *