Archives for posts with tag: Civil War

vicksburg
Battle Tourism
by Will Reger

Nothing left to do with a battlefield
but remember and celebrate it.

Turn it into a park and invite the nation
to come buy a t-shirt and postcards.

Wander around wondering…
Are these the same guns
that tore bodies open
in bursts of fire, smoke and iron?

Is this the same gentle lawn
where the dead contorted
as they emptied?

Which of these nice people
in chinos and polo shirts can see
what I see?

The lamps of pain
going out, one by one, because there is
nothing left to do.

PHOTO: Vicksburg National Military Park, Vicksburg, Mississippi (National Park Service photo).

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Siege of Vicksburg (May 18-July 4, 1863) was the final major military action in the Vicksburg campaign of the American Civil War (1861-1865). In a series of maneuvers, Union Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and his Army of the Tennessee crossed the Mississippi River and drove the Confederate Army of Mississippi into the defensive lines surrounding the fortress city of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Vicksburg was the last major Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River, and General Grant decided to besiege the city. After holding out for more than forty days, with their supplies nearly gone, the garrison admitted defeat. The Confederate surrender on July 4, 1863 is sometimes considered, when combined with Gen. Robert E. Lee’s defeat at Gettysburg the previous day, the turning point of the war.

will reger

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem reflects my thoughts on visiting battlefield parks (Shiloh, Tennessee, and Vicksburg, Mississippi).

PHOTO: Will Reger, Vicksburg Battlefield, Mississippi (2018).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Will Reger has published poetry since 2010. He is currently the Poet Laureate for the City of Urbana, Illinois.  His first full volume of poetry is Petroglyphs (2019).  Many of his published poems are archived at www.twitter.com/wmreger.  His writing process begins with a pair of words or sometimes a question from a dream that sparks a response.  Building on these prompts, he works until a narrative emerges and guides him to finish the poem.

Licensed Patrick Morrissey
Let’s Hear It for the Horses
by Tricia Knoll

One million dead in the Civil War,
if you count the mules.
Which I do.

I say, blowtorch the rebel men
off their statue mounts and keep
the horses prancing on their pedestals.

They were not traitors
to their country, showed no sign
of caring who they carried,

black or white, male or
female. No one questions
their service to equality.

They did the work
they were asked to do
without a nod at glory.

Previously published in the author’s collection How I Learned To Be White. 

PHOTO: Monument to Confederate General Robert E. Lee, Charlottesville, Virginia, by Patrick Morrissey, used by permission. The photo shows an orange safety barrier erected around the monument to prevent vandalism.

Tim_Kaine_inspects_a_makeshift_memorial_to_Heather_Heyer

EDITOR’S NOTE: In April 2017, the City Council of Charlottesville, Virginia, voted, by a margin of three to two, to remove the Robert E. Lee monument as a remnant of the city’s Confederate past and defense of slavery.  During the following months, protests erupted over the statue’s removal. On August 12, 2017, counter-protester Heather Heyer, 32, was killed and 19 others injured when a protester drove his car into a crowd that had gathered to support the monument’s elimination. Two years later, in June 2019, James Fields, 22, was sentenced to life in prison plus 419 years for the crimes. A Virginia law went into effect on July 1, 2020 giving local governments broad powers to take down war memorials. Charlottesville is now in attempting to have a judge remove a prior injunction preventing the city from taking down the statue.  As of late July 2020, the Robert E. Lee monument remains in place.

PHOTO: Virginia Senator Tim Kaine stands before a makeshift memorial for Heather Heyer, who was killed by James Fields on August 12, 2017 in a car ramming incident. (Source: Office of Senator Tim Kaine.)

licensed viacheslav nemyrivskyi

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  I have been horse crazy since I was a child. At the age of 72, I just finished a book on the history of wild horses around the world by Dayton O. Hyde. I admire the horses who sit under the Confederate generals in statues around the country. I am glad to see the statues coming down, but I think too of the horses.

PHOTO: Woman and horse at sunset by Viacheslav Nemyrivskyi, used by permission.

tricia-knoll

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Tricia Knoll’s work appears widely in journals and anthologies. Her collected books of poetry include Urban Wild (Finishing Line Press), Ocean’s Laughter (Kelsay Books), and Broadfork Farm (The Poetry Box). Her recent collection How I Learned To Be White received the 2018 Indie Book Award for Motivational Poetry. Read more of her work at triciaknoll.com. Find her on Amazon and Twitter.