Burial of Sir John Moore, 1809

Burial of Sir John Moore, 1809

A Metrical History of the life and times of Napoleon Bonaparte by William J. Hillis, pp208-209
“Sir John Moore could no doubt have made terms with Marshal Soult, whereby he would have been permitted to embark his troops under very reasonable conditions; but he chose to ask no favours from the French commander, and he fell, fighting gallantly for the honour of his country. His burial at midnight upon the ramparts of Corunna, from which place he had hoped to take his army in safety on the morrow, has been made familiar to all of us in the following lines:”


Burial of Sir John Moore, 1809.
Rev. Charles Wolfe

"Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note,
 As his corse to the rampart was hurried;
Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot
 O'er the grave where our hero we buried.
We buried him darkly, at dead of night,
 The sods with our bayonets turning;
By the struggling moonbeam's misty light,
 And the lantern dimly burning.

No useless coffin enclosed his breast,
 Nor in sheet, nor in shroud, we wound him;
But he lay, like a warrior taking his rest,
 With his martial cloak around him.
Few and short were the prayers we said,
 And we spoke not a word of sorrow;
But we steadfastly gazed on the face of the dead,
 And we bitterly thought of the morrow.

We thought, as we hollowed his narrow bed,
 And smoothed down his lonely pillow,
That the foe and the stranger would tread o'er his head,
 And we far away on the billow!
Lightly they'll talk of the spirit that's gone,
 And o'er his cold ashes upbraid him;
But little he'll reck, if they let him sleep on,
 In the grave where a Briton has laid him!

But half of our heavy task was done,
 When the clock struck the hour for retiring,
And we heard by th' distant and random gun,
 That the foe was sullenly firing.
Slowly and sadly we laid him down,
 From the field of his fame, fresh and gory!
We carved not a line, we raised not a stone,
 But we left him - alone with his glory!"
William J. Hillis, A Metrical History of the life and times of Napoleon Bonaparte, London: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1896