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Visit to Antietam
posted at November 6, 2011 12:02 PM EST
First: September 12, 2011
Last: August 25, 2012
Visit to Antietam
Alone I arrive, walking from Frederick
From behind, hoofing sod aloft
I watch them shift, align, then clash head-on
Is that a cornfield on the distant plain
And far off to my left a long snakelike movement
As they advance random shooting stutters,
As with the suddenness of their arrival,
Then a moaning quiet settles
From what vision am I awakening?
I must linger here, listen to silence, hear it speak—
Forbid all levity here! Bar all distraction!
Silence alone befits this hallowed space—
. . . as does the windhover riding on air
. . . as does the lark climbing aloft
. . . as does the solitary girl
. . . as does the murmuring stream
As I turn now to leave
On parting the pace quickens.
Farewell, holy fields. Farewell, brothers mine
That finally we become one
Re: Visit to Antietam
posted at May 12, 2012 9:10 AM EDT
First: February 12, 2012
Last: April 26, 2013
In Response to Visit to Antietam:
Visit to Antietam by Charles L. Cingolani I Alone I arrive, walking from Frederick over the gaps, across gentle hills out onto a knoll overlooking this burnished landscape. Before me I see countless writhing rows of indiscernible shapes gathered in terrible rituals mid fire and smoke that darken the sun. From distant corners I hear the rhythmic thudding of cannon, and from fields astir with figures converging the eery muffled rumbling of drums. From behind, hoofing sod aloft couriers gallop past straightway up to lines of men where a ruffled slanting flag is held, to a figure mounted, with sword drawn, about to unleash his flexing array to collide with columns coming on. I watch them shift, align, then clash head-on as distant volleys crackle in long orange ribbons where smoke is rising— after which shattered lines rejoin like healed limbs, smaller now but whole, to lunge once more into spiraling bursts of yellowy orange. Is that a cornfield on the distant plain not far from where a white church stands? I see stalks moving like men advancing and falling back in wild infernal whirling, while savage yelling rips through space. Before my eyes that field of buff cornstalks being reaped now by frenzied swathings slashed now then shredded, ravaged in fiery geysers spewing red and orange. I see you, men in blue, your backs to me— barrels and bayonets glistening in the sun your lines plunging forward like waves, cresting and curling to splash in smoky spume onto a road that cuts the fields in two— Facing you there in sunken trenches long streaks of reddish gold bursting in continuing ordered alternation repelling your forward drive— You fall where carnage itself piling high staves off all further senseless slaughter. And far off to my left a long snakelike movement bloats at a bridge behind which the hills with fire erupting become hell’s crucible spurting its ghastly flow of fiery orange what seemed to be a thousand pores down at that stony arched crossing. On this side amassed, clotted lines surge and retract ramrodlike, propelling one small bluish artery over into that brimming inferno to thrust its way forward, unscathed, as if 'twere led through a red fiery sea inside some slender shielding sheath. As they advance random shooting stutters, from farther distance fired. Then of a sudden out of nowhere at my left, one last yelping onslaught, one final vicious blitz. What had advanced seeks refuge now falling back to that bridge, as if to protecting water. As with the suddenness of their arrival, the spirited gray chargers now quit the field, scampering up over their hill to regroup and await the hour of fiery retribution. Then a moaning quiet settles over the twitching fields while nightfall settles in. II From what vision am I awakening? These are but fields, hills. There a church, a bridge. I must linger here, listen to silence, hear it speak— of homage, of gratitude, of loss. Silence hovering over sacred soil, its canopy spread over rituals once performed here to form a sanctuary to enshrine that offering, that atonement, that oblation for a had-to-be waring of our own making. Forbid all levity here! Bar all distraction! Ban every cloaked entrepreneur! Granite, even marble disturb. There is no enactment, no fitting into frames. Silence alone befits this hallowed space— . . . as does the hidden violet that blooms for you in spring, for you who left your life here that dire September seventeen eighteen hundred and sixty-two. You, unknown, unsung brothers mine from Georgia, Connecticut and Carolina. . . . as does the windhover riding on air on wingsbeats stalwart and soft holding perfectly still above the plot where you fell, a crest of valor, a living marker cross emblazoned on high for you valiant brothers mine from Tennessee, Maryland and Iowa. . . . as does the lark climbing aloft on eager wings as morning dawns trilling scales of gratitude to you for daring to die for convictions you held, contrary, insoluble—until that war you waged for those before you, for those who followed, determined brothers of mine from Texas, Mississippi and Rhode Island. . . . as does that ancient tree on the slope still standing there on weary feet, the agéd veteran, presenting arms, saluting you whom he saw fall, himself to fall, last of all, gallant brothers mine from Pennsylvania, Colorado and Arkansas. . . . as does the solitary girl walking across the fields with grace, her head erect, her feet treading light on soil moistened with a spirit soaked into it with blood you shed. She takes strength from it to live despite loss, grief and pain. Your gift to her, dear brothers mine from Wisconsin and Alabama and Maine. . . . as does the murmuring stream that winds through these Maryland fields, that living, pulsing emblem, that watery banner unfurled, Holocaust inscribed thereon but Antietam called, that plaintive name for the deed you rendered: the cleansing required to be one, to fuse us together, cherished brothers of both sides from Virginia, New Jersey and Ohio. III As I turn now to leave mighty towers of white clouds rise mid rumblings of distant thunder off to the west beyond these silent fields. On parting the pace quickens. There is no laming. Led by knowing hand to this temple of silence a fresh awareness of what here was wrought has been instilled, awakened. The bravery, honor, courage, the horror, pain, the dying— knowledge such as this waxes, transforms, makes happen. Farewell, holy fields. Farewell, brothers mine whom I have found in the stillness enshrining this hallowed ground. I found you alive, arisen, have heard your voices begging, clamorous, pleading that what was here begun be completed, be done. That finally we become one in our thinking, our dealings, in the living of our lives— that the struggle find end in the change required of heart and mind to make us worthy of this our home, our land. Source .
Posted by CharlesLouis96
Thank you for sharing your poetry!
This year is the 150'th Anniversary of Civil War Battles across the country. The National Park Service has a schedule of events that look very interesting. Those Civil Wr Reenactors are going to be very busy!
Re: Visit to Antietam
posted at May 19, 2012 9:42 AM EDT
First: September 16, 2011
Last: May 21, 2013
The Civil War heroes should not be forgotten:Here is the latest on one hero:From the American Legion:
Seaman Martin McHugh was not born in the United States, but he served it well. The Irish immigrant joined the U.S. Navy in 1862 – early in the Civil War – and was assigned to the ironclad USS Cincinnati. In May 1863, during the Battle of Vicksburg, the Cincinnati was strafed by heavy artillery fire and began to sink. McHugh helped get his captain and shipmates off the vessel as it went under, while – in the Medal of Honor citation penned by President Abraham Lincoln – “never ceasing to fire until this proud ship went down ‘her colors nailed to the mast.’”
After the war, McHugh moved to Illinois, eventually settling in the town of Danville for about 40 years before his death in 1905. He and his wife were buried in the local Resurrection Cemetery, but his grave went unmarked for over 100 years. McHugh, and his wartime bravery, were forgotten.
In 2010, a member of the U.S. Medal of Honor Historical Society contacted the Vermilion County Clerk’s Office. They had discovered that McHugh was never issued a Medal of Honor marker. Machelle Long, who works in the clerk’s office, and Danville radio reporter Larry Weatherford eventually became co-chairs of a Medal of Honor Ceremony Committee that worked with the historical society for more than a year as it got the issuance of such a marker approved by the VA National Cemetery Administration.
On April 21, the Ceremony Committee – with the support of local Legion entities, among others – put together a day of celebration and remembrance for Seaman McHugh. A ceremony at Holy Family Church (the descendant of the First St. Patrick’s Church McHugh had attended) drew nearly 100 people to hear local and state politicians and others speak about the importance of never forgetting U.S. servicemembers, no matter how long ago they served. Interspersed in the ceremony were Bible readings, patriotic songs and hymns popular in the later 19th century.
After the ceremony, a procession of flag-bedecked vehicles, the Patriot Guard, Legion Riders, and five color guards – including one composed of Civil War re-enactors – made their way to Resurrection, where the Medal of Honor marker, a headstone and a historical marker were placed at McHugh’s grave during a formal dedication. Seven other Medal of Honor recipients from the area were also recognized. The day concluded with a reception at the Vermilion County War Museum, partly sponsored by the Legion.
American Legion Past National Commander Marty Conatser, an Illinois native, said that the members of the Ceremony Committee grew to feel “almost like they were family to McHugh now.” He was in Danville on April 21, and evoked “ageless bravery” in describing the events. “America never forgets,” he said.