‘Twas the Night Before Christmas 1862
by Morgan Gates
With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore
On Christmas Eve 1862 a Christmas Ball that was being held at the home of Dr. William T. Balfour and his wife Emma was interrupted by a messenger warning of the approach of a Union task force supported by Ironclads. The Confederate General M.L. Smith famously ends the ball as he orders his officers to their stations. Each year as a fundraiser the Old Courthouse Museum reenacts that ball. This years Confederate Ball will be held on December 9th.
‘Twas the night before Christmas, at the Balfour House
The guests were all dancing, maybe even the mouse!
The officers conversed by the fire without care,
No one was worried, about the Yankee’s up there;
The soldiers were nestled all snug in their beds
While visions of back home, danced in their heads;
Emma in her ballgown, was the belle of the night
With war all around us no one thought of the fight!
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The patter of rain on the muddy ground below,
Gave a feeling of gloom to objects below,
When what to my straining eyes did appear,
But an exhausted messenger drawing quite near,
The messenger’s hobnails came on with the click,
He needed the General and needed him quick!
More rapid than an eagle, so I do claim
He called for the generals, he called them by name
Oh Forney, Oh Bowen, no, he’s near Port Gibson!
Oh, Martin Luther Smith – to tell you - I’m fixen--
At the top of his lungs – ore the noise of it all!
The Yankee’s are coming – how many – seems All!
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount up to the sky,
So up on the staircase the General he flew,
Bad news was a coming, this we all knew!
Some how all knew it, tho I have no proof,
Even the horses, I swear, were prancing their hoof.
As I drew in my hand and was turning around
General Smith, opened his mouth, we all dreaded the sound.
His uniform was splendid, from his head to his boot,
His buttons so shiny, though we didn’t give a hoot.
The news he conveyed was like a weight on his back,
We all feared the trouble he was about to unpack.
The Yankees are sighted, they’re just north of town!
On gunboats and transports, they are coming right down.
This party is over, all officers must report,
Civilians evacuate, it’s your last resort!
He sprang to his horse, to his men gave a whistle.
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim as he rode out of sight,
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!