Dust rises from the rutted road. Cannon laden caissons rumble slowly forward. A red sun competes with the campfires glow. Weary troops break camp, joining the ranks of colleagues on the move. An enemy, unseen, lays before them, waiting to exact a deadly blow.
Bellowed orders cut through the hushed encampment, bugles sound, urgency pervades. Battle lines are drawn, men marching, resolve and fear etched upon their hearts.
Artillery from behind sing the opening anthem. Flashes on the horizon acknowledging their song. In quickstep they press toward the waiting army, searching til they face the long gray line.
A fusillade rips through the forward soldiers, leaving death and carnage in its wake. A row of men drop in lines of destruction, their cries of pain soon muted by the battles call. Panicked faces seek cover as their Captains yell and threaten, urging them on.
Deadly canisters scream overhead, delivering their fingers of death, Fragments of life left littering the field. “Close ranks” the Captain cries. “Rally round the colors.” In the face of death the army presses onward, drummer boys with smoke blackened faces and hollow eyes, beating cadence on their drums.
Smoke and bodies soon consume the landscape, fragments of lives lost, attesting to the horrors of the day. On and on the contest rages. Giving, taking, winning, losing, dying, until welcome darkness cloaks the field of battle, forcing war to take a short respite
In darkened fields, litter bearers rummage through a broken army. Seeking those whose ravaged bodies won’t surrender, selecting those who might still have a chance.
Hot tears run down the face of hardened soldiers, gripped by a mix of anger, fear and sorrow. Mourning for the sons and brothers taken. Respecting those that they must leave behind.
It is but a beginning. A scene to be replayed so many times. Our nation would become a blood soaked homeland. Each army sure that the Lord was on their side.
Conflict would leave its scars, destroying in an effort to unite. A terrible price would be exacted. With the lives of many men it would be paid.
The War Between The States officially ended April 9, 1865. The conflict cost 624,000 lives.