Monday, January 24, 2011
Journal Entry: Sept 14, 1864; Cat Tail Creek, Virginia
Camping alone tonight near Petersburg; crickets stand picket at the perimeter to protect me. Their rhythm will stop with any unfamiliar movement; I trust in the nature I know. The nature of man; I am not as sure of that. Thousands of tattered men now stand in a death stare across the lines, waiting, watching as more and more Federal troops cross the James River in the last deadlock of this war; no final feint to slip away, this is the endgame that could last months.
This is a new way of war; not a battle and then a respite. General Grant does not rest; he fights and moves, still fighting; the battles have different names, but it is one continuous fight. It has been this way since May, and our lines are pulled as thin as twine, unable to stretch any tighter. Once Grant finds the frayed threads; the cut may be quick, but it will not be clean, and that day will end it all.
Letter: Sept 17, 1864; Cabin Point, Virginia
I have not heard from you since I returned to my duty; I know the postal system at this point is less effective than a message in a bottle sent down the Rappahannock. I trust you have moved westward to join Cousin Betty at Lexington and not returned to the hospitals in Fredericksburg.
The rumble of the railcars, the rattle of the battery wagons, and the noise of war keeps a man from thinking beyond the battle ahead. That is why we camp together, to keep the comradery. I am not cut from that cloth; I am reclusive and my search for silence has brought me to the river once more to hear the calming rush and roll of water; that is the only way I can collect my thoughts, which are always of you. Here, by the water, under the black walnut, with the scent of sassafras, I can find brief passage to another time, a September, ages ago, when you would simply seduce every sense I possess.
This fight is nearly over, and soon, you and I will gather up our loose threads to sew our life back together; as beautiful a double ring quilt as has ever been seen.
Until then, I remain
yours beyond the ages.