1863 – The Die is Cast


[Note:  The following is one chapter of a larger work, entitled “1863”

an epic poem of the ‘Turn of Events’ at that time from the two major events that year: Vicksburg and Gettysburg.  Several sources have been used and acknowledged.]



Eighteen Sixty-three

came with a bang,

but went, with a whimper, at last.

The turning point

for Robert E. Lee,

and a nation

with a very short past.


Liberty rang, in January,

semper libertas – Free!

as from that moment,


end to all slavery,

by Executive Decree;

two years Later,

the thirteenth Amendment.


Lee’s star had now clomb

to the high apogee –

the zenith in heaven, alone.


Undefeated, was he,

up to the year;

but nearer the fear,

if Truth to be clear,

each battle, a Pyrrhic Victory.


Few such much more

victories at war

spelt an end to the cause

was in store.


The prolonged conflict,


will end in the verdict

for his enemy –

fruitless endeavors

such victories.


One only recourse:

to take the aggression,

and move his whole force

on the offensive mission.

Take the war forth

to the enemy’s court –

Move North!

on a northern invasion.


Meanwhile, in Richmond,

concerns were at test:

Trouble was brewing

for the Confederate West.


Grant was the trouble

in the wars fought out west.

for Grant now incurred

some sudden success.


And now upon Vicksburg

whose fall could forecast

the severance and quick-end

the Gibraltar of the West.


Twice came the warnings,

twice from two men,

each had been forming

each one’s separate plan.


But Johnston just stood back,

from each of the plans,

to the point where correction

was all out of hand.

Where Johnston’s reaction,

“Just send me more men.”

and awaited the outcome

right down to the end.


“A strike to the North,”

Longstreet proposed.

“Ohio, of course,

would make him fallback,

abandon the source

of his current attack

on Vicksburg, the South,

and all that out West.”

Such was the action,

which Longstreet thought best.


And Seddon, he listened,

and liked what he heard

of Longstreet’s envision

to salvage Vicksburg.

And the plans for invasion

of North and the rest

in hopes to save

the Gibraltar of the West.


And such were the notions

behind the commotions

in Richmond, where Lee

he was there summoned.

To consider which options

of actions among them,

in mid-May, a conference,

in Richmond.


To all of the actions

Lee disagreed.

“To save the Mississippi

is too little, too late.

Two options only,

are left to partake:


to send reinforcements

out West, then fallback and take

defensive entrenchments 

for Richmond’s own sake.


For then, we shall loose

one of the either:

the Trans Mississippi,

or all of Virginia.”


“But there is the other

choice to consider:

a strike to the heartland

of our enemy thither.


Washington has its internal foment

with those who support

the Northern Peace Movement.

And should we thus move

near to their government,

it just might behoove

to favor a settlement.”


Votes were then taken

on the northern invasion,

with a five to one favor

in General Lee’s mission.

The one vote “against”

was that of John Reagan,

who saw the real threat

out West and in Grant.


Lee, the first soldier

of the Confederacy;

Lee, the first soldier

in world history.


Unbeaten, the hero’s aura held fast –

Be done! what he says,

in Lee we shall trust.


God speed!  General Lee.

And the die was thus cast.




©2013, Marvin Loyd Welborn



Poem’s Score: 2.1


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