Never a furrow of sod was broke,
Vanished the white man’s hateful smoke;
The thick grown grass in the buffalo’s trail
Seemed to wither and then to fail;
Forgot was hunger and misery—
Tangle Hair’s hand again was free.
There was consternation in Washington,
Flash! on the wire to Ft. Robinson:
Commanding officers, beware
Of the murderous red-skin, Tangle Hair;
Fasten your barracks every night,
Load your guns and put out your light;
Clip the heads of the garrison bare
To save their scalps from Tangle Hair."
Back on the wire to Washington:
"Every soldier has his gun,
Officers sleeping on their arms—
Ready to run at the first alarms.
Rumors come floating through the air
Of settlers butchered by Tangle Hair;
Our blood is up and our spirits keen—
To shed the last drop in the Post Canteen."
Into the fort with his queer command
Rode Tangle Hair and his tattered band.
The wagon axles made doleful shriek,
Pinched was each squaw and pappoose cheek,
Sore and blistered the ponies’ backs.
The gaunt-ribbed dogs lolled in their tracks,—
The Cheyenne raiders, the fierce outlaws.
Were crying children and hungry squaws.
Hark to the bugle! The Black Brigade
Is marching in on the Chadron grade.—
Every trooper an ace of spades.
"Column right!" the captain said,—
The red men followed, the black files led;
Curious sight, when the Cheyenne braves
March ‘neath the guns of the Sons of slaves,—
Watching that ragged Cheyenne band,
Watching that stately black command,
My thoughts went out in the years to be
When red and black men shall both be free.
I saw in the stormy days now past
The black man bent to his wageless task;
I looked and saw his slavery end
On Wagner’s ramparts, at Milliken’s Bend;—
Better the liberty bought with blood
Than starve on one’s native plains for food :—
And somehow I saw in that cavalcade
A plea for justice, a cry for aid,
And looking beyond the doubt and dust
Into the future with hope and trust,
I read in the skies of promise there
An end of raiding for Tangle Hair.