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Scholarly Editing

The Annual of the Association for Documentary Editing

2013, Volume 34

"Will not these days be by thy poets sung": Poems of the Anglo-African and National Anti-Slavery Standard, 1863–1864

Edited by Elizabeth Lorang and R. J. Weir
page 1 page 2 page 3 page 4
Complete Issue: National Anti-Slavery Standard (13 February 1864)
Lieut. Enoch G. Adams, "Bradley Clay" National Anti-Slavery Standard (13 February 1864): [4]View Poem Image
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(The first soldier that died in Company D.)

When the daylight died away, Died the life of Bradley Clay.
When the moon climbed up the hill, Climbed his spirit higher still.
When the zenith she attained, He a higher zenith gained.
Folding up the tent of life, He had gone beyond our strife.
He was at the tattoo blown By the bugles 'round the Throne,
Far beyond this Earth's control, Where archangels call the roll,
And the stars, like calcium lights,[3] Guard lest fiends should storm the heights.
Knapsack he had laid aside For a state beatified.
Haversack and canteen lay, Thrown by Death's ravine away:
For he heard the banquet call Through the depth of ether[4] fall,
Hung equipments on a rack, Laid his musket on the stack.
Death had whispered in his ear Countersign that passed him clear.
To him were new weapons given From the armory of Heaven.
In a uniform of white, Marched he up the streets of light,
Where the glistering tents are spread, Like a palm-tree overhead,
And the great All-Chief and staff From the fount of glory quaff.
He the first fruits we had given To our Country's Cause and Heaven.


  1. Eighteen year-old Bradley Clay enlisted in the Second New Hampshire Regiment on May 10, 1861, and was officially mustered into the US Army less than four weeks later, on June 1. Census data for 1850 suggest that he was the eldest son of a Merrimack County farmer.
    On June 20, 1861, the New Hampshire volunteers moved south to Washington, DC, where they settled into Camp Sullivan. The regiment took part in the battle of Bull Run on July 21, and suffered casualties. Enoch Adams reported at least six men missing from Clay's company (Duane E. Shaffer, Men of Granite: New Hampshire's Soldiers in the Civil War [Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2008], 36). Clay died on October 6, 1861, while the regiment manned Washington defenses at Bladensburg, Maryland. He may have succumbed to wounds or to one of the several diseases that were a deadly, everyday feature of army life.
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  2. Like Bradley Clay, Enoch George Adams (1829–1900) enlisted as a private in the Second New Hampshire Regiment's Company D. In a letter to his mother dated November 26, 1861, Adams "credited himself, as a Union soldier, with loosening 'every fetter from the trembling slave'" (David A. Cecere, "Carrying the Home Front to War: Soldiers, Race, and New England Culture during the Civil War," in Union Soldiers and the Northern Home Front: Wartime Experiences, Postwar Adjustments [New York: Fordham University Press, 2002], 299). If the phrase hints that Adams was prone to self-aggrandizement, it also provides evidence of his antislavery sympathies. This early commitment to a war of emancipation is less surprising, given that Adams's family was "the New Hampshire branch of the illustrious Massachusetts Adamses" (Cecere, 306).
    Days before Bradley Clay's death, Adams was promoted to the rank of sergeant. He was wounded in the neck at the Battle of Williamsburg (May 5, 1862) and returned home to recover. Adams rejoined his regiment in September as second lieutenant (Duane E. Shaffer, Men of Granite: New Hampshire's Soldiers in the Civil War [Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2008], 62). He survived the regiment's subsequent engagements and was mustered out in early May 1864. He rejoined the army in the winter of 1864 and served at bleak Fort Rice in Dakota Territory.
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  3. In early June 1861, Lincoln's War Department arranged to test calcium lights at Fortress Monroe, Virginia. The powerful lights had been recommended for trial by an officer in the Engineer Corps "as an efficient method of illuminating everything within effective gun range, in our fortified channels and roadsteads" ("The Calcium Light," New York Times, June 1, 1861, 1). Adams must have been impressed by this new military technology.Go back
  4. Both "upper regions of space beyond the clouds" and a form of anesthetic (Oxford English Dictionary).Go back