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Presentation to the Authorities

By Privates, of Colors captured in Battles ending in the Surrender of Lee.

These flags of armies overthrown--
Flags fallen beneath the sovereign one
In end foredoomed which closes war;
We here, the captors, lay before
  The altar which of right claims all--
Our Country. And as freely we,
  Revering ever her sacred call,
Could lay our lives down--though life be
Thrice loved and precious to the sense
Of such as reap the recompense
  Of life imperiled for just cause--
Imperiled, and yet preserved;
While comrades, whom Duty as strongly nerved,
Whose wives were all as dear, lie low.
But these flags given, glad we go
  To waiting homes with vindicated laws.

Herman Melville