Strangers to Us All
Lawyers and Poetry

Samuel Hawkins Marshall Byers

(1838- )

"Byers, Samuel Hawkins Marshall, soldier and author, was born at Pulaksi, Pa., July 23, 1838 . . . . His family removed to Iowa in 1851, settling at Oskaloosa, where young Byers received his education and was admitted to the bar. At the outbreak of the civil war he gave up his law practice and joined the 5th Iowa Infantry. He was commissioned quartermaster-sergeant, rising in a short time to be first lieutenant and then regimental adjutant. In a charge at the battle of Missionary Ridge he was captured by the Confederates and confined successively in six southern prisons, including Libby, and was one of the Union officers placed under the fire of the Union guns at Charleston, S.C. During fifteen months imprisonment he escaped three times, but each time was recaptured. On Feb. 10, 1865, he cut a hole in the wall of the prison at Columbia, S.C., and on the following night escaped to Sherman's army. While in prison at Columbia, S.C., he wrote the well-known song, 'Sherman's March to the Sea,' a song that gave its name to the great campaign, and of which Gen. Sherman subsequently said: 'It was this poem, with its phrase 'the march to the sea,' that threw a glamour of romance over the movement which it celebrates. The movement was nothing more than a change of base, an operation perfectly familiar to every military man. But a poet got hold of it, gave it the captivating title, 'The March to the Sea,' and the unmiltary public made a romance out of it.' After the war, Maj. Byers developed this historic lyric into a long narrative, or epic poem, descriptive of the entire march, and published it, with other poems in a volume called 'The March to the Sea.' . . . . After the capture of Columbia, S.C., Byers was appointed on the staff of Gen. Sherman, later being breveted a major. He was sent north through the enemy's lines with dispatches to Lincoln and Grant, and carried the first news of Sherman's triumphant progress in the Carolinas. With the closing of the war Maj. Byers returned to Iowa with health almost ruined by his long confinement. After some years of invalidism at home he was appointed U.S. consul at Zurich, Switzerland, remaining at that post fifteen years; later he was consul-general at Rome, from which post he was recalled at the beginning of Pres. Cleveland's first administration. Pres. Harrison appointed him consul-general at St. Gall, Switzerland, and he served until Pres. Cleveland's reelection, when he was retired and took up his residence in Des Moines, Ia." [The National Cyclopedia of Biography 352 (New York: James T. White & Co., 1910)(Suppl. 1)][online text]


S.M.H. Byers, Sherman's March to the Sea (H. De Marsan, 1865)

___________, The March to the Sea: A Poem (Boston: Arena Publishing Co., 1896)

___________, The Happy Isles, and Other Poems (Chicago: Rand, McNally & Co., Printers, 3rd ed., 1901) [online text]

___________, The Honeymoon and Other Poems (Chicago: Rand, McNally, 1907)

___________, Poems of S.H.M. Byers, Selected: Including also "The happy isles, ", "The march to the sea", and other poems ( New York: Neale Pub. Co., 1914)

___________, The Bells of Capistrano, and Other Romances of the Spanish Days in California (Los Angeles: Grafton Publishing Co., 1916) [online text]

_____________, The Pony Express, and Other Poems, New and Old (Los Angeles: Times-Mirror Press, 1925)

___________, Glorietta: A Romance in Verse of the Old Spanish Days in San Diego (Greenfield, Indiana: National Historical Society Publishers, 1916)

___________, In Arcadia, and Other Poems: Including the Bells of Capistrano (Los Angeles: Grafton, 1929)


S.H.M. Byers, Iowa in War Times (Des Moines: W.D. Condit & Co., 1888) [online text]

___________, With Fire and Sword (New York: Neale Publishing Co., 1911) [online text]

___________, What I Saw in Dixie, Or, Sixteen Months in Rebel Prisons: Or, Sixteen Months ... (Dansville, New-York: Robbins & Poore, Prints, 1868) [online text]

__ ________, Twenty Years in Europe, or Recollections of a Consul-General

___________, Switzerland the Swiss (New York: Appleton & Co., 1875) [online text]

___________, The Last Man of the Regiment

___________, A Layman's Life of Jesus (New York: Neale Publishing Co., 1912) [online text]

___________, Pocahontas a Melo-drama in Five Acts: A Melo-drama in Five Acts ( [S.l. : s.n., 1875])

___________, Twenty Years in Europe; a consul-general's memories of noted people, with letters from General W.T. Sherman (Chicago: Rand, McNally, 1900)