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Posts Tagged ‘Robert E. Lee’

salient

At Spotsylvania in ’64,
I fought and somehow lived to fight some more.
I fought near very center of the front –
The Bloody Angle of the salient,
A fingernail that tore, and torrent bled –
From wounded Blue and Gray and from the dead.

The Angle was the likely weakest spot,
Which both sides knew, so armies formed a clot,
With wave and wave of Blue prepared to send,
And Gray entrenched at all costs to defend.
I fought there and its horrors know too well;
Yet you will think it bloody lies I tell.

So massive was the steady charge of Blue,
For twenty hours we could not subdue,
Or stop the penetration of our line
Till Blue and Gray did equally combine
With shots close range and fighting hand to hand –
A horror only Satan could command.

The terror that we had to stay alive
Fueled strength to make the weary strive
Against exhaustion of our flesh and soul
To try and keep our lives, keep body whole,
Not like the thickened oak* that, riddled, fell
By all the bullets flying in our hell.

Rain reigned and trenches softened into mud
Soaked by the falling water, flowing blood.
The mortal blows were given face to face
And wounded fell among them in that place.
Five deep the bodies were, dead or alive,
While we fought on above them to survive.

I sob to tell you of this ghastly day:
The Blue, still charging, and we standing Gray,
Had fought from dawn and still fought toward the night
And trampled dead and wounded out of sight!
Both armies killed men with their hands and feet,
The nightmare that my nightmares still repeat.

I fought there and its horrors know too well;
Yet you will think it bloody lies I tell.

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The battle at the salient was a 200 yard wide stretch.

*Federal fire was so heavy and some over the confederate troops in trenches that an oak tree two feet in diameter was felled by chipping bullets.

https://ironbrigader.com/2014/04/22/union-soldiers-recall-fighting-mule-shoe-salient-spotsylvania-courthouse/

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© Dennis Allen Lange, 2020.

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With Stonewall Jackson hurt, but not yet dead
Though surgeon-fit for that, his final bed,
Lee heard the cutting news and said aright,
“He’s lost his left arm but I’ve lost my right.”
And when the life of Jackson ebbed away
Like timid tides retreating from a bay,
Robbed Lee, at Gettysburg, was then alone –
He’d lost his eyes and ears beneath a stone.

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© Dennis Lange and thebardonthehill.wordpress.com, 2016.

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One nation
Not allowed to stay
Divided.

The West’s key:
The Mississippi.
Win Vicksburg.

Scorch the East;
Cut off Lee’s supplies.
Surrender.


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* The haiku I write are lines of 3-5-3 syllables instead of 5-7-5.

See Haiku article here for explanation, if needed: https://thebardonthehill.wordpress.com/2011/08/08/haiku/
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© Dennis Lange and thebardonthehill.wordpress.com, 2016.

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The Civil War etched two men into history,
Head, shoulders o’er the rest, two of our nation’s best –
A president and gen’ral: Lincoln, Lee.

Men came to recognize their pedigree;
They were a different breed; both in their roles could lead.
The Civil War etched two men into history.

One led the North and let the slaves go free;
One led the armed in gray, a fox in ev’ry way –
A president and gen’ral: Lincoln, Lee.

Less Lincoln, North might cave and bend the knee;
Lee knew what Grant would do, as though the future knew.
The Civil War etched two men into history.

One set a course midst scorn like scalding tea;
The other sat astride the route the Blue would ride –
A president and gen’ral: Lincoln, Lee.

Men fell; some soared, and blood became a sea
As two great men arose midst all a nation’s woes.
The Civil War etched two men into history,
A president and gen’ral: Lincoln, Lee.


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© Dennis Lange and thebardonthehill.wordpress.com, 2016.

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At Chancellorsville, the light was all but lost,
Except the stars that peered out o’er the dead
Who had no twinkle left; their holocaust
A battlefield which was, this night, their bed. 

The General rode out into the night
To scout himself the land before his men.
Returning, friendly fire from blinded fright
Stung thrice the Bull Run Battle’s paladin. 

He could not walk the way because he bled
His strength from shoulder and a useless arm.
A stretcher manned by friendly men instead
Moved him, but one drop caused his ribs some harm.

The arm went first; that seemed to be enough –
A sacrifice acceptable to Death.
But Death said no, in voice grim and gruff,
And Jackson’s light was lost in his last breath. 

Though Chancellorsville was its great victory,
Black draped the Gray in mourning o’er the cost
That none more keenly felt than Robert Lee
Who knew that for his own eyes light was lost. 

And like the life of Jackson ebbed away
So, too, did Southern hopes begin to fade.
And at the end, the General and the Gray
Less life and cause, were in a grave both laid.

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© Dennis Lange and thebardonthehill.wordpress.com, 2016.

 

 

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Who knew one fallen leaf upon the grass
Could trip, at once, a hundred thousand men? –
One white canary singing with some sass,
Betraying him who wrote it with his pen. 

To trap the Union army was Lee’s plan.
Three generals, a pitchfork with three tines,
And fat would fry in Harpers Ferry’s pan.
There was no flaw but man in Lee’s designs. 

A copy of his orders for each chief
And Stonewall Jackson made one for his kin.
A copy came; an aide would keep that sheaf –
A souvenir he lost for Union men. 

The wrapper of cigars, a paper small,
Fell to the ground; caused many men to fall.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Order_191

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© Dennis Lange and thebardonthehill.wordpress.com, 2016.

 

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           Barbara Frietchie

Up from the meadows rich with corn,
Clear in the cool September morn, 

The clustered spires of Frederick stand
Green-walled by the hills of Maryland. 

Round about the orchards sweep,
Apple and peach-tree fruited deep, 

Fair as a garden of the Lord
To the eyes of the famished rebel horde,

On that pleasant morn of the early fall
When Lee marched over the mountain wall; 

Over the mountains winding down,
Horse and foot, into Frederick town. 

Forty flags with their silver stars,
Forty flags with their crimson bars, 

Flapped in the morning wind: the sun
Of noon looked down, and saw not one. 

Up rose old Barbara Frietchie then,
Bowed with her fourscore years and ten; 

Bravest of all in Frederick town,
She took up the flag the men hauled down; 

In her attic window the staff she set,
To show that one heart was loyal yet. 

Up the street came the rebel tread,
Stonewall Jackson riding ahead. 

Under his slouched hat left and right
He glanced; the old flag met his sight. 

“Halt!” – the dust-brown ranks stood fast.
“Fire!” – out blazed the rifle blast. 

It shivered the window, pane and sash;
It rent the banner with seam and gash. 

Quick, as it fell, from the broken staff
Dame Barbara snatched the silken scarf. 

She leaned far out on the window-sill,
And shook it forth with a royal will. 

“Shoot, if you must, this old grey head,
But spare your country’s flag,” she said.

A shade of sadness, a blush of shame,
Over the face of the leader came; 

The nobler nature within him stirred
To life at that woman’s deed and word; 

“Who touches a hair of yon grey head
Dies like a dog! March on!” he said. 

All day long through Frederick street
Sounded the tread of marching feet: 

All day long that free flag tost
Over the heads of the rebel host. 

Ever its torn folds rose and fell
On the loyal winds that loved it well; 

And through the hill-gaps sunset light
Shone over it with a warm good-night. 

Barbara Frietchie’s work is o’er,
And the rebel rides on his raids no more. 

Honor to her! and let a tear
Fall, for her sake, on Stonewall’s bier. 

Over Barbara Frietchie’s grave,
Flag of freedom and union, wave! 

Peace, and order, and beauty draw
Round thy symbol of light and law; 

And ever the stars above look down
On thy stars below in Frederick town!

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