“1863” – Gettysburg


Mid-May, that day

Stonewall is dead,

buried the same day

Lee will be speaking

with Davis and Seddon,

the Confederate Heads,

a Confederate meeting

on moving ahead.


The first six months

of Sixty-Three

witnessed the most


campaigns in all

the military

heretofore seen

in history.


Jackson and Lee

made legendary

the Army of Northern Virginia.

Now, here it is June,

and Lee’s all alone,

in marching

to Pennsylvania.


And at the same moment

Grant is out West

changing the course

of the story.

There’s no turning back,

Lee’s on the attack,

he crosses the river



A turning point now is cast,

one will be saved,

the other one lost.

And all of it comes

at terrible cost

to a fledgling

American country.


And Fighting Joe Hooker

knows when he’s beat,

the fifth in a line

of generals to lead;

replaced by Lincoln

with General George Meade,

Hooker turned out

all mouth and no deed.


“The hen will not cackle

 ’til after the egg.

A general that wins,

this country needs.

Let’s see if six can fix

and not brag.”



An army of hope,

spirit and pride

follows their Lion,

Hubris set aside.

Shoeless, ragged,

dirty and grim

would be the scions

to sire the men

that could be,

should be,

but die there with them;

now lying fallow

forever at end.


“Never before!”

was there “such an army.”

Lee spoke then of his men:


“Not then, not now,

nor will be again.”

Thus was the Army

of Northern Virginia.


Was this the beginning

that may have hit him,

the idea of a “Hero,”

that always would win?

The undefeated,

inflicting the loss,

weighed in as heavy,

an albatross.


“I’ll whip them here,

or they will whip me.”

Such then their leader’s

marching decree.

Much then the Lion,

the leader’s Hubris,

which took over leader

and sagacity.


Twixt several small hills

that overlook dales

lay tranquil a restful calm,

the antonym of Antietam,

of cannon and grapeshot balm.

but this was before July oh-four,

eighteen sixty three,

when two large forces

would meet there for war,

for three days in history.


This story recalls

the gruesome pall,

a shadow that ended it all,

for that of the army

of Northern Virginia,

and the eminent fall

of most imminent of all

that of Robert E. Lee.


The gruesome melee

where thousands were led

believing in victory.

It ended instead

with the heroes all dead,

in the flesh or else memory.


One hundred thousand,

plus more than that, met

in battle twixt Blue and the Grey;

and half or more died,

the numbers were guessed at –

the counting continues today.


The convergence of roads

like the spokes of the wheel

made Gettysburg

the melee’s main magnet,

And twenty-four hundred

chief residents,

the eye of the storm to beget.






©2013, Marvin Loyd Welborn

27 July 2013



Poem’s Score: 2.7


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