Twilight Stories

Author: Various

The Story of the Empty Sleeve.

Here, sit ye down alongside of me; I’m getting old and gray; But something in the paper, boy, has riled my blood today. To steal a purse is mean enough, the most of men agree; But stealing reputation seems a meaner thing to me.

A letter in the Herald says some generals allow That there wa’n’t no fight where Lookout rears aloft its shaggy brow; But this coat sleeve swinging empty here beside me, boy, to-day, Tells a mighty different story in a mighty different way.

When sunbeams flashed o’er Mission Ridge that bright November morn, The misty cap on Lookout’s crest gave token of a storm; For grim King Death had draped the mount in grayish, smoky shrouds— Its craggy peaks were lost to sight above the fleecy clouds.

Just at the mountain’s rocky base we formed in serried lines, While lightning with its jagged edge played on us from the pines; The mission ours to storm the pits ’neath Lookout’s crest that lay; We stormed the very "gates of hell" with "Fighting Joe" that day.

The mountain seemed to vomit flames; the boom of heavy guns Played to Dixie’s music, while a treble played the drums: The eagles waking from their sleep, looked down upon the stars Slow climbing up the mountain side, with morning’s broken bars.

We kept our eyes upon the flag that upward led the way Until we lost it in the smoke on Lookout side that day; And then like demons loosed from hell we clambered up the crag, "Excelsior," our motto, and our mission, "Save the flag."

In answer to the rebel yell we gave a ringing cheer; We left the rifle-pits behind, the crest loomed upward near; A light wind playing ’long the peaks just lifted death’s gray shroud; We caught the gleam of silver stars just breaking through the cloud.

A shattered arm hung at my side that day on Lookout’s crag, And yet I’d give the other now to save the dear old flag. The regimental roll when called on Lookout’s crest that night Was more than doubled by the roll Death called in realms of light.

Just as the sun sank slowly down behind the mountain’s crest, When mountain peaks gave back the fire that flamed along the west, Swift riding down along the ridge upon a charger white, Came "Fighting Joe," the hero now of Lookout’s famous fight. He swung his cap as tears of joy slow trickled down his cheek, And as our cheering died away, the general tried to speak.

He said, "Boys, I’ll court-martial you, yes, every man that’s here; I said to take the rifle pits," we stopped him with a cheer, "I said to take the rifle pits upon the mountain’s edge, And I’ll court-martial you because—because you took the ridge"

Then such a laugh as swept the ridge where late King Death had strode! And such a cheer as rent the skies, as down our lines he rode! I’m getting old and feeble, I’ve not long to live, I know, But there WAS A FIGHT AT LOOKOUT. I was there with "Fighting Joe."

So these generals in the Herald, they may reckon and allow That there warn’t no fight at Lookout on the mountain’s shaggy brow, But this empty coat-sleeve swinging here beside me, boy, to-day Tells a mighty different tale in a mighty different way.

A race! A race! Which will win,
Thin little Harold or chubby Jim?
Surely not Harold for there he goes
Down so flat
he bumps his nose,
While Jimmy stops short.
The fat little elf,
Says he can’t run a race
all by himself.


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Chicago: Various, "The Story of the Empty Sleeve.," Twilight Stories, ed. Altemus, Henry and trans. Holcomb, Thomas Addis Emmett, an Holcomb, Martha A. Lyon in Twilight Stories Original Sources, accessed December 10, 2023,

MLA: Various. "The Story of the Empty Sleeve." Twilight Stories, edited by Altemus, Henry, and translated by Holcomb, Thomas Addis Emmett, an Holcomb, Martha A. Lyon, in Twilight Stories, Original Sources. 10 Dec. 2023.

Harvard: Various, 'The Story of the Empty Sleeve.' in Twilight Stories, ed. and trans. . cited in , Twilight Stories. Original Sources, retrieved 10 December 2023, from