, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,




When the scared-looking soldier stepped out of the woods with his hands raised I was pretty sure that he wanted to surrender but my sergeant shot him anyway. “What was that for? He was surrendering?” I yelled at Sergeant Kelly as he lowered his rifle. “This is a war damnit! We have to kill some people.” He said as he went through the newly deceased soldiers clothes looking for ammunition. “But he was only a boy.” I said barley above a whisper. “Well blame his Mama for letting him join the army, William, now let’s move out”

An hour or two of marching really leaves you a long time to think about what your doing and why. All I knew was that this Civil war had to end soon because I hated the fact we were fighting brother versus brother, North versus South. The fighting was cruel and heartless; I mean Sergeant Kelly just killed a boy without a second thought. That was a boy about my age maybe a little younger. That could have been me. Then I would never go home again. I would never see Mama again. I would lose Caroline forever. I plan to marry that girl when I get home. We would live together on a small farm near the Mississippi river and would have the house slave help take care of the baby. But for now all I have to do is outlive this here war.

We finally arrived at our small bleak camp around 6:00pm, just as the sun was settin’ in the big orange and pink sky. Some of the men re-lit the fire at the center of our encampment. Steven Clark pulled out his guitar from his tent and sat on a log near the fire and started to sing a song, hoping to bring some positive morale back to our rundown regiment. Our supplies were waning so we were always hungry, cold, and miserable, little could help us. A few boys around 17 had made a cross out of rifles had started to pray that a shipment of supplies would come and for their lives.

The moon shined bright over the little camp in the marshes of Louisiana. Laughter and music hovered in the air around it. The orange glow of the fire crept through the trees making the worn soldiers seem somewhat at peace. To me it reminded me of that battle we had at Gettysburg. So many of my friends died in front of me or in my arms. I thought about how my best friend Matthew got shot in the belly. As I cradled him in my arms I whispered to him “Don’t go Matt, I need you here with me.” He weakly smiled at me trying to mask the pain, “I have to go William. Tell Eva That I love her and give my Mama my cap.” He coughed up some blood that I quickly wiped away with my sleeve. He closed his eyes slowly and his head just fell to the side. I haven’t cried that much since my Papa died when I was 8.

I was disrupted from my thoughts when a lanky solider with a cut on his left temple and dirt staining his face and hands. “THEY’RE COMING!” He said as he tumbled into camp. Sergeant Kelly shot up from his war journals. “Calm down, son. Private Johnson get him some water!” He barked. “No time.” The soldier wheezed. “The Yanks are coming to this camp in 30 minutes, you NEED to get ready.” “You heard the man, GET THE MEN ASSEMBLED!” Kelly yelled at Private Johnson. Johnson raced off.

All of us were positioned around the camp waiting for our enemy. Waiting to live or waiting to die, we weren’t quite sure.

In the silence of the night you fear every small noise you hear.

A sharp whip like crack suddenly filled the air. 5 of my fellow my men collapsed, bleeding from the new holes in their chests and legs. “Fire at will!” A Confederate officer yelled. I shook as I raised my rifle, closing my left eye for better aim. I fired, but missed. The Union soldiers were now coming through the clouds smoke that our gunpowder made. The two sides ran for each other, bayonets out for the kill. The battle had begun. I was in the middle a madding blur of guns, bayonets, blood and bodies. The smell of sulfur and iron filled the air. Blood soaked the grass beneath our feet, a slippery black mess