A series by Clyde Wilson

HENRY ROOTES JACKSON (1820—1898) of Georgia was a lawyer, judge and poet. He was U.S. Minister to Austria/Hungary 1853—1858 and was well-known for prosecuting Yankee slave traders trying to import African captives into Atlanta shortly before the war. He was Colonel of the 1st Georgia Volunteers in the Mexican War and fought in the Confederate army throughout the war, becoming a brigadier general. After the war he was appointed by President Cleveland as the U.S. Minister to Mexico. In 1850 he published a book of poems Talulah. The third selection reflects a soldier’s thoughts.


The red old hills of Georgia!
So bald, and bare, and bleak—
Their memory fills my spirit
With thoughts I cannot speak.
They have no robe of verdure,
Stript naked to the blast;
And yet, of all the varied earth,
I love them best at last.

I love them for the pleasure
With which my lift was blest,
When erst I left in boyhood
My footsteps on their breast.
When in the rains had perished

Those steps from plain and knoll,
Then vanished, with the storm of grief,
Joy’s footprints from my soul!

The red old hills of Georgia!
My heart is on them now;
Where, fed from golden streamlets,
Oconee’s waters flow!
I love them with devotion,
Though washed so bleak and bare—
Oh! can my spirit e’er forget
The warm hearts dwelling there?

I love them for the living—
The generous, kind, and gay;
And for the dead who slumber
Within their breasts of clay.
I love them for the bounty
Which cheers the social hearth;
I love them for their rosy girls—
The fairest on the earth!

The red old hills of Georgia!
Oh! where upon the face
Of earth is freedom’s spirit
More bright in any race?
In Switzerland and Scotland
Each patriot breast it fills,
But oh! it blazes brighter yet
Among our Georgia hills!

And where, upon their surface,
Is heart to feeling dead?
Oh! when has needy stranger
Gone from those hills unfed?
There bravery and kindness
For aye, go hand in hand,

Upon your washed and naked hills,
My own, my native land!

The red old hills of Georgia
I never can forget;
Amid life’s joys and sorrows,
My heart is on them yet;
And when my course has ended—
No more to toil or rove,
May I be held in their dear clasp
Close, close to them I love!



Ye glorious Alleghanies! from this height
I see your peaks on every side arise;
Their summits roll beneath the giddy sight,
Like ocean billows heaved among the skies.
In wild magnificence upon them lies
The primal forest—kindling in the glow
Of this mild autumn sun with golden dyes,
While, in his slanting ray, their shadows grow
Broad o’er the paradise of vale and wood below.

How beautiful! though, fresh from Nature’s God,
They show no footstep of an elder race;
No human hand has ever turned their sod,
Or heaved their massive granite from its place;

The green banks of their floods bear not a trace
Of pomp and power, which have come and gone,
And left their crumbling ruins to deface
The virgin earth. Here Nature rules alone;
The beauty of the hill and valley is her own.

Nor might the future generations know
Aught of the simple people who have made
Their habitations by the streams that flow
So fresh and stainless from the forest shade,
Who built their council fires on hill and glade,
And in yon pleasant valleys, by the fall
Of crystal founts, perchance, their dead have laid;
But for the names of mountain, river, cataract—all
Significant of thought and sweetly musical.


My Wife and Child

The tattoo beats; the lights are gone;
The camp around in slumber lies;
The night with solemn pace moves on;
The shadows thicken o’er the skies;
But sleep my weary eyes hath flown,
And sad, uneasy thoughts arise.

I think of thee, oh! dearest one!
Whose love my early life hath blest;
Of thee and him—our baby son—
Who slumbers on thy gentle breast;
God of the tender, frail and lone,
Oh! guard that little sleeper’s rest!


Wherever fate those forms may throw,
Loved with a passion almost wild—
By day, by night—in joy or woe—
By fears oppressed, or hopes beguiled—
From every danger, every foe,
O God! protect my wife and child!

Clyde Wilson

Clyde Wilson is a distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at the University of South Carolina where he was the editor of the multivolume The Papers of John C. Calhoun. He is the M.E. Bradford Distinguished Chair at the Abbeville Institute. He is the author or editor of over thirty books and published over 600 articles, essays and reviews and is co-publisher of www.shotwellpublishing.com, a source  for unreconstructed Southern books.

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