Eric v.d. Luft


To My Ancestor, Killed in the Civil War

You were twenty-nine
A blacksmith
Good career
Honest trade
Solid future
And where you worked is still the beauty of the Catskills

But when the call came
You answered
You volunteered
To save the Union
To free the black man
To do President Lincoln’s will
And what you defended, the Beltway now defends

You lived to prove Yankee blue
Tougher than Rebel gray
You made first sergeant
And to survive
You had to dig oysters
Shoot pigs
Steal chickens
And where you camped is now a McDonald’s

Up the Pamunkey
Inch by inch toward Richmond
Never getting there
Jaunders, dysentery, filth, and fever
Deadlier than Rebel lead
Quinine, cayenne, salt beef, and whiskey
Your best companions
And where you marched are now four lanes of Interstate 64

You followed orders
Into the Florida jungle
To find nothing
And where you fought, the trees grew back

At Burden’s Causeway
Bloody Bridge
You led a planned retreat
And where you fell, the historical marker
At the crossroads
In the South Carolina swamp
Does not mention you


Eric v.d. Luft, Ph.D., M.L.S., owns Gegensatz Press; was Curator of Historical Collections at Upstate Medical University from 1987 to 2006; has taught at Villanova University, Syracuse University, Upstate Medical University, and the College of Saint Rose; is the author, editor, or translator of over 650 publications; and is listed in _Who’s Who in America_.


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