Tuesday, November 23, 2010
The swollen Potomac River has subsided; our wounded and worn army has started to cross to safety. The 9th stays behind as the rearguard. We will surely be attacked as our numbers become smaller. Like my brothers, I have an aversion to sabers, so I have added two more revolvers to my belt; fine unfired .44 Army Colts, picked up from the field at Gettysburg; fresh harvest from that orchard of death. Slippery with blood, they stained my hands, like mulberries from my favorite childhood tree.
My childhood; where is my sweet mother to wash these stains away? Could she have imagined her sons’ futures? What must she be feeling this day? She knows the fields, the fruits, the times to sow by sun and moon; she knows nothing of the field of battle with its fallen fruit. The seeds we sow are far different; the harvest in my hand is heavy and will never satiate my hunger for home. I will write home to my mother that I am once again spared, but cannot help but think of the other mothers; the mothers of the 50,000 casualties at Gettysburg, the 30,000 at Chancellorsville, the 26,000 at Sharpsburg; there were so many other battles that I did not see. The newspapers estimate over 300,000 casualties of this war and I fear the worst is waiting beyond the horizon; waiting as the mothers wait.
Death has started to surround them, suddenly, like summer storms; how could the weather change so quickly, after such a tranquil morning.