African American Poetry (1870-1928): A Digital Anthology

T. Grant Gilmore, "The Twenty-Fifth Infantry" (1907)

[Editor's Note: This poem refers to the Brownsville Affair of 1906. The present version was derived from a page scan on HathiTrust that contained some stanzas that were illegible.]

Come, boys! there's a call to arms. 
Our country needs our and 
Don't think of home and loved ones, 
Come, fall in the grade 

You know the fathers of this land 
Who died that she be free 
Are looking for us to uphold 
The flag of Liberty 

And so they did etch noble black 
Went forth to face the foe, 
Whose heart was light for country's cause 
While home was desolate with woe 

Loved ones praved to God above. 
To spite them with His might. 
That they return with honor 
To their home and land of right

And God did spare that noble band 
To return to home and friends. 
They are an honor to their race 
They stand like noble men. 

Back to regular duty, 
Stationed here and there, 
Though in the service of Uncle Sam 
Not welcomed anywhere. 

What means this feeling of hatred? 
Are we not one of this country’s sons?
Have we not done our duty, 
Each and every one? 

Well, we'll not complain, comrades, 
Our forefathers suffered before: 
We'll do our duty like soldiers 
As they did in days of yore.

But remember there's a bitter feeling
That is moving through the land
And no matter whatever happens
We will stand un man for me.

From Washington came the order
To the 25th Infantry renowned
You will move with the battalion
And  be stationed at Fort Brown

It was on the night of the 12th
While de tending then iives of Brownsville

[Illegible stanza]

The shooting, then became general, 
Each man's life was in his hands; 
On the [date] of August, at Brownsville, 
Came a sorrow o'er this land.

Then came the investigation 
Ordered by the Commander-in-Chief, 
To bring to a Southern bar for trial. 
To add more to their grief 

“Now tell who did the shooting 
And how it all begun;" 
But not one word escaped their lips
That noble band stood mum. 

Well, if you will shield the guilty 
Your fame as soldiers is erased: 
You are discharged, every man of you, 
Dishonored and disgraced.

Ah but who can say dishonor .
In the land of toil and strife,
When men stand by their comrades
For the protection of their life.

In justice to their comrades,
In justice to their home,
We'll await that final tribunal
When God sits on His throne.

All hail the power of Jesus's name,
Let angels prostrate fall:
Bring forth the royal diadem
And crown Him Lord of all."

Published in Colored American Magazine, January 1907

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