The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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He left a wife (Louisa, daughter of Benjamin Spratly,) and children to mourn his loss. It was near the dreaded Cape Hatteras so often before and since the death-place of the brave, did the gallant Guthrie meet his death.

        This fearful spot has been beautifully and fearfully depicted in poetry by another son of North Carolina, now, too, no more:


                         The Wind King from the North came down.
                         Nor stopped by river, mount, or town;
                         But like a boisterous god at play,
                         Resistless, bounding on his way,
                         He shook the lake and tore the wood,
                         And flapped his wings in merry mood,
                         Nor furled them, till he spied afar.
                         The white caps flash on Hatteras Bar,
                         Where fierce Atlantic landward bowls,
                         O'er treacherous sands and hidden shoals.

                         He paused, then wreathed his horn of cloud,
                         And blew defiance long and loud;
                         "Come up! Come up, thou torrid god,
                         That rul'st the Southern Sea!
                         Ho! lightning-eyed and thunder-shod,
                         Come wrestle here with me!
                         As tosset thou the tangled cane
                         I'll hurl thee o'er the boiling main."

                         The angry heavens hung dark and still,
                         Like Arctic night on Hecla's hill;
                         The mermaids sporting on the waves,
                         Affrighted, fled to coral caves;
                         The billow checked its curling crest,
                         And, trembling, sank to sudden rest;
                         All ocean stilled its heaving breast.
                         Reflected darkness, weird and dread,
                         An inky plain the waters spread--
                         So motionless, since life was fled!

                         Amid this elemental lull,
                         When nature died, and death lay dull,
                         As though itself were sleeping there--
                         Becalmed upon that dismal flood.
                         Ten fated vessels idly stood,
                         And not a timber creaked!

                         "Come up! Come up, thou torrid god,
                         Thou lightning-eyed and thunder-shod,
                         And wrestle here with me!"
                         `Twas heard and answered: "Lo! I come
                         From azure Carribee,
                         To drive thee, cowering, to thy home,
                         And melt its walls of frozen foam."

                         From every isle and mountain dell,
                         From plains of pathless chaparral,
                         From tide built bars, where sea-birds dwell.
                         He drew his lurid legions forth--
                         And sprang to meet the white-plumed North

                         Can mortal tongue in song convey
                         The fury of that fearful fray?
                         How ships were splintered at a blow--
                         Sails shivered into shreds of snow--
                         And seamen hurled to death below!
                         Two gods commingling, bolt and blast,
                         The huge waves on each other cast,

                         And bellowed o'er the raging waste;
                         Then sped, like harnessed steeds, afar,
                         That drag a shattered battle-car
                         Amid the midnight din of war!

                         Smile on, smile on, thou watery hell,
                         And toss those skulls upon thy shore;
                         The sailor's widow knows thee well;
                         His children beg from door to door,
                         And shiver, while they strive to tell
                         How thou hast robbed the wretched poor!


        This theme has also inspired the pen of an earlier poet:


        * Written off the Cape, July, 1789, on a voyage to South Carolina, being detained sixteen days with strong gales ahead.

[From the National Gazette, Philadelphia, Monday, January 16, 1792.]

                         In fathoms five, the anchor gone,
                         While here we furl the sail,
                         No longer vainly laboring on
                         Against the western gale;
                         While here thy bare and barren cliffs,
                         O Hatteras, I survey,
                         And shallow grounds and broken reefs;
                         What shall amuse my stay?

                         The Pilot comes. From yonder sands
                         He shoyes his barque so frail,
                         And hurrying on, with busy hands,
                         Employs both oar and sail.
                         Beneath this rude, unsettled sky
                         Condemn'd to pass his years;
                         No other shores delight his eye,
                         No foe alarms his fears.

                         In depths of woods his hut he builds,
                         Where ocean round him flows,
                         And blooming in the barren wilds
                         His simple garden grows.
                         His wedded nymph, of sallow hue,
                         No mingled colors grace.
                         For her he toils, to her is true,
                         The captive of her face.

                         Kind nature here, to make him blest,
                         No quiet harbor plann'd,
                         And poverty, his constant guest,
                         Restrains the pirate band.
                         His hopes are all in yonder flock
                         Or some few hives of bees,
                         Except, when bound for Ocracock,*

        * All vessels from the northward that pass within Hatteras Shoals, bound for New Berne and other places on Pimlico Sound, commonly, in favorable weather, take a Hatteras pilot to conduct them over the dangerous bar of Ocracock, eleven leagues W. S. W. of the Cape.

                         Some gliding barque he sees;

                         His Marian then he quits with grief,
                         And spreads his tottering sails,
                         While, waving high her handkerchief,
                         Her commodore she hails.
                         She grieves, and fears to see no more
                         The sail that now forsakes,
                         From Hatteras' sands to banks of Core,
                         Such tedious journeys takes.

                         Fond nymph! your sighs are breath'd in vain,
                         Restrain those idle fears.
                         Can you, that should relieve his pain,
                         Thus kill him with your tears?
                         Can absence thus beget regard,
                         Or does it only seem?
                         He comes to meet a wandering band
                         That seeks fair Ashley's stream.
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