Tag Archives: Civil War

The Road Home – a Union Soldier’s Journey

Journey Home

The road stretched long from hell to home,
pained by wheels of carrion dust
stirred thick in ghostly steps of war
while pulling canon’s hateful rust.

Lilac essence lined the trail
denied in spring the love to bloom,
yet heaved in whispered sacrament
between fresh graves, within death’s tomb.

No hint of living soul was seen,
nor stir of sound in mournings’ air,
yet held for hope this hell would pass
and providence lead him there –

There, to home where one heart stood
in skirt’s coquettish smiles.
There, where memory held the gate
to hearth beyond these hellish miles.

Time moved on with no such time,
each step a blur to steps in count,
till raised in climb and lifted hope
upon ascent of Acorn’s mount.

There peeked through trees the clearing
atop the Acorn’s rocky perch,
that drove to knees a tear’s relief!
Below! Home’s valley and quiet church!

On knees atop the final mount
through tears in shuddered gasps of breath,
his love, he knew, returned him
from the blood of battle and throes of death.

Now in morning’s sunlit dew
how sure this sacred moment charms,
that greets release for one, for two.
Toward home to fall in loving arms!

The road behind stretched long from hell,
from death and pain and friendships torn,
now silenced cannon’s whispers tell
the story of a union born.


Filed under History, Perspective, Photography, Poetry, True Love

Bone White

Chattanooga National Military Cemetery

Chattanooga National Military Cemetery

Atop the knoll where cannons keep
a watch for those here lain,
I cast my eyes ‘cross this expanse
of hills where once stood grain.

In aging testimony,
this hallowed ground is turned bone white,
an endless sea of crosses roll
through oaks and summer’s light.

A gentle whisper calls a tune
in timeless, ageless memories,
thus stirs the oak and ash to grant
a moment’s cooling breeze.

The summer’s heat peaks weariness
across my furrowed brow,
yet begs I cross the distance
to feel the hearts around me, now.

To count the rows and call the names
through every battle fought,
to share the living knowledge gained
these wounded hearts have wrought.

Bone white and worn, fading names,
others only numbered souls
lost to season’s secret,
held here ‘tween the oaks and knolls.

‘Tis sad, this lengthened journey,
when reach the distant rows,
many hearts and souls here,
many that I feel I’d know
if only for this fleeting glance
between these steps of mine,
graced to sense their wounded hearts,
touched but for a moment’s time.

Contoured to this hallowed ground
across this rolling distance,
blessed in blood through those who gave,
these crosses bear true witness
that gratitude and honor
are distilled from hearts that fell in fight.
To them this simple blessing,
“God bless these souls beneath bone white”.


Filed under History, Memory, Perspective, Photography, Poetry

Our Union’s Echo

Dust upon the mantle, deep,
as tones of aching somber hold
the lengthened shadows across the room
to rend the wooden floor to gold.

So worn by every footstep lain
two hundred years could keep,
that grain and pitch and nail combine
in melding, fast asleep.

The air in musk of history
traps my thoughts in what I dream,
and there a conjured memory begs
from Civil War, a scene…
where just beyond the garden gate,
men in grey meet men in blue,
on horseback speak in earnest terms,
then off to leave just standing, two.
I hear a somber canon –
I smell the lilacs full in bloom –
I feel the rose of a lover’s blush,
then find me quiet, here in this room.

The window sash is splintered,
through the frame, the garden gone.
The picket fence in broken angles
casts pickup sticks in shadows long.

I move toward the porch to feel
the southern summer’s setting hush,
and o’er the field before me
sense the rolling guns and troops in rush.
The odor is of powder –
The sounds are pain and desperate cries –
I feel the courage and the anguish
that counted gone so many lives.

A blue jay calls my balance back
to lonely porch and battlefield
where ne’er a plow has broken soil
since when its fate by blood was sealed.

Cicadas welcome home the dusk
to sweetly calm the souls here lain,
and I a nod of hope for them,
and one long tear pulled from the pain,
now etched into my fabric –
now carved in stone upon my soul –
that I recall their history,
their sacrifice, their echo to a union whole.


Filed under History, Memory, Perspective, Poetry, Universal Soul

Bells of War

Clouds of war
loom to the east,
reflecting sun’s horizon
of deepest setting’s,
rose and peach.
Be it blood tomorrow,
or garden’s rising?

Surreal, the silence of this dusk,
hangs on the clouds of night’s foreboding,
clings its matter to my mind,
start memories’ work, noting
the tortured gray
of seasons past,
where men lie dead
in fields of grass,
while clouds of cannon smoke hang sighing,
weep to their young spent souls,
and beckon fast their rising.

In clamor, fall the hoof-steps
of wagons hearsed and calling
to stack the flesh, and there return
these bodies, to the bawling
eyes and hearts of loves
whose secret fear’s now summoned,
and in the wake of dead, leave tears
in sorrowed river’s running.

In distant air the sounds are heard
that confound the very reason
of men entrenched, and fighting still
beyond this deathfield’s treason.
The dogs of war, beyond it all,
hounds in chase, instinctual service
draw the hoofs and wagons on,
to serve this warring’s purpose.

In setting sun of future days,
our hearts will cry a humble phrase
that war is waste and serves just death.
And so regret the scornful ways
when tempest reigned our judgment’s tack,
in retrospect we’d like it back
and return our loved ones whole.
When regret is ours, and lessons learned
have etched the living soul,
we’ll know war serves not our purpose,
for life and love’s our role…
Yet today, the bells of war do toll.

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Filed under History, Memory, Photography, Poetry

In honor of the Battle of Shilo

Brave of the brave the twice five thousand men

Who all that day stood in the battle’s shock

Fame holds them dear, and with immortal pen

Inscribes their names on the enduring rock

April 6 – 7, 1862 ~ Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee


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One-hundred-fifty years ago, April 1861 through May 1865, marked as one of the darkest times of our country: The American Civil War.

Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, 19-November 1863, stands as one of the most well known speeches in American history. Delivered six months after the actual battle, Lincoln managed to galvanize a divided nation toward a “new birth of freedom” and the prospect of true equality.

The speech, given at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, PA was delivered by a haggard, mournful and nearly weak president. Reaction to the two minute speech seemed to fall short for many, given the depth of the occasion. Lincoln was subsequently chastised and praised for the eloquent effort in the days and months that followed. Yet the truly succinct content and delivery of eternal tenants of equality, freedom and perseverance left the attending crowd in a dignified silence. No applause was offered when Lincoln stopped speaking, as the crowd was hushed to silence, and then a delayed and weak applause came after.

Nearly eight thousand dead and thirty-nine thousand wounded, captured or missing had resulted from the battle of July first through third 1863, just six months earlier. And as the November dedication ceremonies were taking place, re-interment of bodies from the battlefield graves into the national cemetery was still underway.

The poem below is my attempt to realize the man, and his thoughts and regrets as he prepared to give this speech, on the battlefield of Gettysburg. He assuredly walked the hallowed ground, and certainly struggled with his emotions regarding his responsibility to his office, to the union, and to these men fallen. It must have been a long walk.

This poem attempts to reflect on what I believed I could have felt if I had been there to see the man at this point of difficult challenge for not only himself, but our young nation.


I’ve seen you there, in sharp relief,
your strength of spirit, iron will
drawn tight into the moment’s point,
silent hope, compassion’s fill,
so contrast the graying battlefield.

I’ve watched you reach for words expressed,
but none could hold your tears in check.
I’ve seen your furrowed brow grow deep,
speechless. Bittersweet this death
that brought the end to souls untold,
now shouting ‘last the fight’s undone,
“These loving arms no more shall hold
the hearts for whom this battle won.”

I’ve felt the pain, impetuous,
draw blooded tears within your soul,
and struggle in one moment’s doubt,
by you, this great and utter toll
one moment’s decision rifted.
For had you seen a sparrow light
before those words, you might have lifted
the pen and lost the thought
that led these young souls here…
Yet granted by the will of God,
your words, a nation sanctified,
that now at bloodied battlefield,
two parts, in union, these lives have tied.

I’ve seen that in your knowledge thus,
no ration found or reason made,
could ease the pain in burden, standing
upon the horrored battle glade.
In dignity you moved between
the fallen throng of man and horse,
your tears in gentle wiping,
your speech suppressed to whisper, hoarse.

I’ve seen your great reflection now,
compassion wrapped humility,
through generations time has wrought
and birthed our freedom, our liberty.

Yet if today your soul still wanes
in what was cast and needed done,
please find enhearten’d confidence,
that greater still the battles run…
for way of life and human rights,
for purposed divined in liberty,
your strength of spirit and compassion real,
has inspired right, has kept us free.
For we are one above the rest
who reach for truth and justice.
Our commitment to the path you took,
thus your soul displayed, before us.


Filed under History, Photography, Poetry