Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
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Source: April 1965 Volume 13 Number 3, Pages 54–55

Christian Workiser's steed

Catherine Rose Thropp Porter

Page 54

In the radiant light of the autumn morn,
Through fruitful orchards and fields of corn,
From the river side to the highway brown
The English army came marching down.

Through Chester vale to the city of Perm,
Marched thousands of bronzed, red-coated men;
Like a horde of locusts they onward stray,
Bearing the spoils of the year away.

Close to the edge of a straggling wood
The dwelling of Christian Workiser stood;
They plundered his dairy, his farmyard, all
The cattle were driven from manger and stall.

And Bessie, a maiden of scarce ten years,
Ran out with her blue eyes filled with tears;
and sobs from the childish heart broke through
When "Black Prince," the war horse, was taken too.

To Pickering's mill her father had gone
With a load of wheat in the early dawn;
With anger the colonel's broad bosom stirred
When at eve the pitiful story he heard.

To the British commander a message with speed
Was sent by the colonel, demanding his steed.
"For the one he demands I'll send back a score.
Mount! Troopers, and ride to his threshold once more."

In the door stands the colonel, alone, undismayed,
With the scabbard drawn off from his keen, trusty blade;
As a rock proudly flings back the billows wild flow,
He stood there undaunted, awaiting the foe.

"Who's this?" cries the captain, with swift, sharp rebound.
"Why, colonel, old comrade!" He springs to the ground,
"Why, comrade! You know we fought side by side
On the Plains of Abraham, where gallant Wolfe died!"

A messenger came o'er the mountain brow
To Colonel Workiser from General Howe.
The letter he bore spoke in words most fair
Of a warrior's respect for the warrior there.

Page 55

Expressing regret, and with courtesy fine
For the loss he had suffered, he sent as a sign,
A chain of rich gold all studded with pearl,
To bind the locks of his fair little girl.

But more precious than gems in his master's sight,
By the messenger's side in the morning light,
Under the apple trees, down the lane.
Black Prince came trotting with flowing mane.

Master and charger have mouldered away
To dust, in a grave of a bygone day,
And the old house stands in the valley green,
Watching unchanged o'er the peaceful scene.

The winds breathe their requiem, soft and low,
O'er the nameless mounds where the wild flowers blow,
Brave martyrs who perished at liberty's shrine,
Like stars in the zenith, immortal shall shine.

Their names on our country's bright record of fame,
Who died for the heritage grand that we claim;
On Valley Forge hills in that far-off morn,
In throes of anguish our nation was born.

The above poem was found among the papers of Franklin L. Burns, our local historian and ornithologist, accompanying the typescript of his study on the Workiser family, This article was published in The Picket Post of the Valley Forge Historical Society for January, 1945, pp. 23, 24, 38, 39, 41, under the title "Workisers of Valley Forge Area Left their Imprint on the Section." But the poem was not printed therein, and the Tredyffrin-Easttown History Club editors are not aware that it has ever before been published.

The poem recounts an event or tradition in the life of Christian Workiser, the author's great-grandfather, He had been an aide to General Wolfe in the battle of Montreal. While in general sympathy with his neighbors, he felt he could not take up arms against his old British, companions. But as a former British officer he dared to protest when his house was looted, and delighted when the officer sent to discipline him further recognized him as an old companion in arms.


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