"Tell Hill he must come up!"
Antietam sent many here that summer's end,
Fire sweeping men around Sharpsburg,
Yesterday's fragrances of corn and hay,
Yesterday's sounds of rattle and song,
Today's blood and powder,
Today's volley and cry.
I have met those people at a rail junction,
And I have met them in the woods,
This hill of dead above the James,
This hill of dead upon the Rappahannock,
This road of dead from Gettysburg,
This road of dead from Petersburg.
"Strike the tent."
Thus resolved me this fatal covenant
That so terrible a course should end,
That wrong bled white should become righteous,
That I shall draw the curtain on this scene of guilt
And a new Act begun,
By me, for us.
I have always sought the Judgement of Providence,
Not single combat but armies met,
Yet fighting retreat is in my nature
That, at last, I did not deny, but turned, finally,
To enlighten a young mind, or seek some childish joy,
As I rode here in glorious sadness!
-Peter Ahrens 2002