Above, USS Kearsarge attacks the CSS Alabama in a famed naval engagement off Cherbourg, France during the War Between the States. Below, French artist Edouard Manet's 1864 painting, "Battle of the Kearsarge and Alabama," shows Kearsarge, background, far right, sailing in on the burning Alabama, center. A British yacht, foreground, witnessed the battle and rescued Confederate crewmembers.

On Roncador
By James Stanley Gilbert

No more the boatswain's pipe shall call
To quarters on her deck!
On Roncador, on Roncador
She lies—a lonely wreck!
No more shall buglers colors sound,
Nor tuneful taps shall play!
On Roncador, on Roncador,
In silence ends the day!

No more shall the curious visitor
Be shown her famous gun!
On Roncador, on Roncador,
Her guerdon she hath won!
Haul down the flag left flying there—
No record let there be
Of how we lost on Roncador
Our veteran of the sea!

'Tis better thus to lay away
A memory of the past,
Whose strife hath ended in a peace
Forevermore to last!
Rest on, thou brave old Kearsarge, rest!
The waves that round thee surge
Shall on the shore of Roncador
For ages chant thy dirge!
 

NOTES: Roncador Cay is a Caribbean island belonging to Colombia. In 1894, Panama was still a department of Colombia, nine years from independence.

The U.S. Navy's first USS Kearsarge was a steam sloop-of-war launched in 1861. Kearsarge sank on Roncador Reef on Feb, 2, 1894. She was renowned for sinking the CSS Alabama in an 1864 Civil War battle fought in the English Channel, outside the French port of Cherbourg. Five Kearsarge sailors won the Medal of Honor in that intense 70-minute engagement.

Her "famous gun," or armament, was a pair of smoothbore 11-in. Dahlgrens, four smoothbore 32-pounders and a rifled 28-pounder (4.2-in. Parrott).

Colors: The salute, usually bugle or trumpet, made when the U.S. flag is raised or lowered.

Taps: A bugle call or drum signal sounded at night as an order to put out lights; also played at military funerals (Webster's II).

Guerdon: Reward; requital (Webster's II).