Memorial Tribute to Capt. B.P. Ayers by Scott Cummins, Barber County, Kansas Barber County, Kansas.  

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The Medicine Lodge Cresset, March 15, 1888.



(To the memory of Capt. Byron P. Ayers)

Again has the reaper, death, thrust his sickle into our shattered ranks, another comrade has crossed the "Dark Divide" to the camping ground beyond. When the havoc of war thinned our ranks and brave men fell before the missiles of death like leaves before the autumn wind, "the vacant ranks were filled with a million freemen more." But alas! not so with the ranks of the G. A. R.; when the destroyer breathes on our decreasing band, the vacancy can never more be filled, and we can only "close up the ranks" and watch and wait for the enemy to come - our last foe who must finally conquer all.

Our comrade is gone; we shall never more feel the clasp of his warm hand in token of a still warmer heart; his voice will mingle with our voices around our camp fires no more; his tears will be blended with those of his aged comrades never again. Warm-hearted, brave comrade, farewell forever.

Comrade, rest thee, care nor sorrow
Can no more disturb thy sleep;
Close those eyes on each tomorrow,
Never more to wake or weep;
To the "great unknown," departed,
Clasped in death's restless keep,
Never, over warmer hearted
Still the prairie grasses sweep.
Sleep, while the silent shades enthrall thee,
Sleep, 'til the "reveille" shall call thee.

From thy life of melancholy
Til the brighter joys had flown;
By the wanton hand of folly
Thorns within thy path were thrown;
Many a skeleton doth hover,
That the world can never see,
'Neath the heart's most secret cover-
Hidden 'til eternity.
Sleep, while the silent shades enthrall thee,
Sleep, 'til the "reveille" shall call thee.

Charity's broad folds shall cover
All amiss of thee we knew;
Ever will kind remembrance hover
'Round that heart, once warm and true,
Dust to dust, in final slumber,
Comrades all must share thy bed
One by one they join that number
In the bivovac of dead.
Sleep, while the silent shades enthrall thee,
Sleep, till the "reveille" shall call thee.

Canema, Kas., March 7th, 1888.

In the above poem, Orange Scott Cummins, a.k.a. "The Pilgrim Bard" refers to "The Bivovac of the Dead", a poem by Theodore O'Hara of Kentucky, written in 1847 in memory of his fellow soldiers who died in the Mexican War.

Both Scott Cummins and Byron P. Ayers were members of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) who attended the Soldier's Reunion reported in The Medicine Lodge Cresset, 23 Oct 1879.

Also see:

A Christmas in the Wilderness, 1871 by Scott Cummins. A story about some buffalo hunters' Christmas dinner near where Medicine Lodge, Kansas, was later established.

Thanks to Shirley Brier for finding, transcribing and contributing the above news article to this web site!

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