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at Alexander's bridge. After some difficulty I found Surgeons Little and Turner on the furrowed ground, operating without any light except that of burning fence rails. I immediately asked if they had received my note. They answered: "Yes; Captain Nott died in the ambulance before reaching the hospital, and his and General Lytle's body are lying in the straw near by, as it was impossible to obtain sepulture for any of the dead of either side."
I found Captain Nott's body guarded by his two colored servants, Nat and John. I said to them:
'Boys, we must find some means to bury your master," but we could find no implements, except an axe and a broken spade. With those we pried off some of the weatherboarding of the Alexander house, dug a shallow grave at the foot of a large Catalpa tree, lined it with the planks, and laid those two soldiers side by side-the Blue and the Gray. Two other officers, Major Huger, of Maginalt's staff, and Colonel Marast, of the regiment which killed General Lytle, were buried near by. These bodies were subsequently all removed-General Lytle's three or four days after he was killed, a casket having been sent through by a flag of truce.
And this is the true account of the death and burial of Brigadier-General W. H. Lytle, the author of 'I Am Dying, Egypt, Dying.'
At the reunion of the Blue and the Gray at Chickamauga battlefield last summer Colonel West met several members of General Lytle's command, many of whom are leading men in the city of Cincinnati. He was made the recipient of many courtesies by them, and specially invited to participate in the exercises incident to the dedication of a handsome monument to General Lytle's, which had been erected on that historic field. General Lew Wallace was to have delivered an address on the occasion. Colonel West would have accepted the invitation, but owing to General Wallace's failure to be present, some of the arrangements fell through, and Colonel West did not attend.
Captain John C. Parker, an ex-Federal naval officer, formerly a resident of Cincinnati, but now of New Orleans, was well acquainted with General Lytle. He agreed with Colonel West that the poem "I Am Dying, Egypt, Dying," was written a few years before the Mr. Parker said he remembered reading it in a Cincinnati paper about the year 1858.
General Lytle, he said, sprang from a military family. He was a man of great refinement and culture, and a very gallant soldier, and
he possessed a strong personality and magnetism. His death was greatly mourned in Ohio, and he lies buried in Spring Grove Cemetery, Cincinnati, under a handsome monument erected by his family.
THE POPULAR VERSION.
We herewith append the popular version of the romantic story of the authorship of the poem, the poem itself, and a brief sketch of Lytle, but we are unable to discover the name or the date of the paper from which the clipping is taken. The tale about the lines being written on the eve of Chickamauga is fully well exploded, but "Antony and Cleopatra" is a noble production, and will live as long as American literature. We have never seen anything else from the pen of the gallant and unflinching soldier, but if he never wrote another verse or line, this production marks him as a poet in the true sense of the word.
One of the finest poems in the finest literature of song is that one known everywhere by its first pathetic line—
"I am dying, Egypt, dying,"
and which was written by General William H. Lytle on the eve of the battle of Chickamauga. The Detroit Free Press says it is indebted to the late Colonel Realf, poet, author and soldier, who shared the fortunes of war with his friend, General Lytle, for an account of the peculiar circumstances under which the poem was written. Colonel Realf shared the tent of General Lytle on the night preceding the battle. The two friends were both given to writing poems at such times, and each had an unfinished poem on hand. They read and criticised each other's efforts humorously for some time, when General Lytle said, with a grave smile:
'Realf, I shall never live to finish that poem."
"Nonsense," said his friend, "you will live to write volumes of such stuff."
"No," said the General solemnly, "as I was speaking to you a feeling came over me suddenly, which is more startling than prophecy, that I shall be killed in to-morrow's fight."
Colonel Realf asked him to define this feeling, and he said:
'As I was talking to you I saw the green hills of Ohio as they looked when I stood among them. They began to recede from me in a weird way, and as they disappeared the conviction flashed through me like the lightning's shock that I should never see them again."
General Lytle was a native of Ohio, and dearly loved his birth State. Colonel Realf laughed at his friend, and rallied him upon his superstition, but acknowledged afterward that he became so thrilled himself with an unnatural fear that he begged the General to finish his poem before he slept, that such fine work might not be lost to the world. In the small hours General Lytle awakened his friend from the slumber into which he had fallen to read to him that beautiful poem, which must live as long as our literature survives.
Imagine the scene. The two men, united by the bonds of friendship, of congenial tastes, both ready and willing to face death on the morning in its direct form, scanning by the light of their tent lantern each other's features, when the finished poem had been read aloud.
Colonel Realf said that his own eyes filled with tears, but the General said not a word as he placed the manuscript in his pocket, and lay down on his last night's rest upon earth.
Before dawn came the call of arms. When Realf next saw his friend he lay cold in death among the heaps of slain. Then he thought of the poem, and searching the pocket where he had seen him place it, he drew it forth, and forwarded it to General Lytle's friends with his other effects. We give the poem in its entirety, feeling sure all will renew their admiration of it when they read under what tragic circumstances it was written.
I AM DYING, EGYPT, DYING.
I am dying, Egypt, dying!
Ebbs the crimson life-tide fast,
Thou, and thou alone, must hear.
Though my scarred and veteran legions
I must perish like a Roman
Die, the great Triumvir still!
Let not Cæsar's servile minions
Mock the lion thus laid low;
'Twas no foeman's arm that felled him;
Turned aside from glory's ray—
Dare assail my fame in Rome,
Weeps within her widowed home.
As for thee, star-eyed Egyptian!
Glorious sorceress of the Nile!
With the splendor of thy smile.
Let his brow the laurel twine;
I am dying, Egypt, dying!
Hark! the insulting foeman's cry;
Let me front them ere I die.
Shall my heart exulting swell;
GENERAL W. H. LYTLE.
-W. H. LYTLE.
William H. Lytle was born in Cincinnati, O., November 2, 1826. His great-grandfather, William, fought in the French war. His grandfather, of the same name, was an early pioneer in Ohio, and active in Indian warfare. His father, Robert T. Lytle, was a member of Congress, 1833-35, and afterwards surveyor of public lands. The subject of this sketch graduated at Cincinnati College, studied law, began the practice, but at the beginning of our war with Mexico he volunteered, and served as captain in the Second Ohio Regiment.
At the close of the war he resumed the practice of law, was elected to the Legislature of Ohio, and in 1857 was an unsuccessful candidate for Lieutenant-Governor on the Democratic ticket. Soon afterwards he became major-general of the Ohio militia, and at the beginning of the civil war was commissioned colonel of the Tenth Ohio Regiment, which he led in West Virginia in 1861. At Carnifax Ferry, on September 10, 1861, he commanded a brigade, and was severely wounded. He was again wounded and taken prisoner at Perryville, Ky., October 8, 1862, and, when exchanged, was promoted to brigadier-general, November 29th. Thereafter he served actively under Rosecrans till he was killed while leading a charge of his brigade at the battle of Chickamauga. General Lytle had much literary taste and genuine poetic talent, and was the author of many poems of merit. His best-known poem is the one we copy above, written in 1857. No book collection of his verses has ever been made.
On the death of this brilliant poet-soldier, General W. S. Rosecrans issued the following:
CINCINNATI, O., January 8, 1864.
As Brigadier-General Wm. H. Lytle fell leading a gallant charge against the foe advancing on our retreating troops, I may be excused from departing from the strict rule of mentioning those officers whose good conduct could be properly officially noticed by the general commanding only. This brave and generous young officer, whose first wounds were received while fighting under my command at Carnifex Ferry, where he fell desperately wounded at the head of his regiment, was also badly wounded and taken prisoner at the battle of Perryville, where he repelled a desperate onslaught of the enemy.
On rejoining the Army of the Cumberland with his well-earned rank of brigader, he was assigned second in command to General Sheridan. When he fell gloriously on the field of Chickamauga, Ohio lost one of her jewels, and the service one of its most patriotic and promising general officers.
W. S. ROSECRANS,
[A paragraph in the preceding very interesting account, to which attention is called, is corrected in the issue of the New Orleans Picayune of December 1, 1895, as follows.—Ed.]