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And The Drifts Were Men

Fog hugged the cobbled streets
and brick homes of Fredericksburg.
Ice stretched inches from the Rappahannock's bank.
November '62 and Major Gen. Sumner demanded surrender;
from women, from boys, from girls and old men.
To the south lay Richmond,
the whelping box of the Confederacy
and like an old dog, Sumner wanted it put down.
He wanted Lee stopped; before the cobbled streets,
before the brick homes and before the ground froze.

It was here Jackson came, with Stuart, Pelham and Early.
Longstreet's corps would hold Marye's Heights
and Cobb the Sunken Road.
There would be no surrender in Virginia.
And December came.

Lee watched from a ridge as line after line fell.
Men came like snowflakes in a storm
and like snowflakes they melted away,
becoming drifts to be stepped over and upon.
The Sunken Road bulged with dead
and the dying could only pray.
The Union stayed in position while 12,000 of their own
mingled with 5,000 southern sons
and for two days the still battlefield froze,
while bodies of dead and dying grew cold.

And along cobbled streets, winter blew it's breath,
howling through the bricked homes,
while ice stretched further from the Rappahannock's bank.
There would be no surrender, no skulking dog,
only grotesque forms, stilled forever,
bent, broken and bloodied; caught in a December wind,
deformed and frozen, like a long dead dog.

 

Copyright © Linda Lee. Reprinted by permission.