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  • Writer's pictureFrank Armiger

Soldiers in the Cold with the Sibley Stove

A Soldier’s Poem from the Maryland National Guard and Naval Militia Newsletter No. 21 April, 1940

As a result of thirty years exposure to the writings of soldiers and their drawings and cartoons, I must say that four themes are the most recurring. 1. Their food 2. The opposite sex 3. Field conditions, mud being the #1 complaint there and 4. Officers. And, I’d say in that order.

I have enjoyed these themes my whole career, which is why this poem endeared itself to me instantly. I hope everyone else enjoys it as much as I did. Barbara Taylor, Curator, Maryland Museum of Military History

Attention To Orders

The 110th Field Artillery, Maryland National Guard is hiding a poet in one of its caissons. The well-remembered ride to Camp Meade for November training jolted the bard out into the open, and he turned out to be a poet celebrated throughout the ages – none other than the distinguished “Anon” –quoted hither and yon, and old as the Ancient Mariner.

One of his greatest works is here given to the world for the first time. We present it for what it’s worth.

Ode to the Sibley Stove

We entered Meade with a great desire,

To warm our bones by a roaring fire;

But all the faith within us died

As Sibley Stoves were what we spied.

Before us there, in the canvas gloom

They stood and glowered, presaging doom;

Their straight tin stacks all capped with screen

That soon would smother every dream.

But with the pride of the Cannoneer,

Who always is sure to persevere,

We cut the kindling, dry and fine,

And piled the Sibleys high with pine.

We drank a toast to the Gods of Chance,

And waited to see the bright flames dance

Thru the open door of the black iron cone

That we were hoping would heat our home.

And then we knew that soldier’s life,

At post or afield, is doomed to strife;

For smoke erupts form a Sibley fire,

Second only to the “Brimstone Pyre.”

So we rapped the pipe with the dumb belief,

That the operation would bring relief

From the devilish smoke that Sibley meant,

To be carried off thru the upper vent.

But the soot that fell in an avalanche

Would make a strong man’s spirit blanch,

While we would only swear and choke,

Vowing that Sibley wouldn’t get our goat.

Then we filled a rookie with liquid cheer,

So that he would gladly volunteer,

To shinny the ridgepole of our home,

And clean the mesh of that ***** dome.

But this helped less than the bottled brand,

That was always near our trembling hand,

To keep our minds in glowing haze,

Beyond the need of dead-gone blaze.

So we drank again, to the “Powers that Be,”

The guiding lights of the Artillery,

Because, we know, they also froze

In the clean, warm rays of the Sibley Stove.

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