Antietam 1862

‘Twas no surprise that morning as the sun broke o’er the ridge
Cannon roared and smoke poured forth ‘til nearly all was hid.
They knew that it was coming, the men that fought that day.
In days before had skirmished with their foe along the way.

It was Lee against McClellan in a battle for the books
That raged throughout the day as ground was gave and ground was took.
Miller’s cornfield near the creek won’t feed the herd this year
As cannon ball and horses hooves tear up the ground so dear.

No one could claim advantage as for footing they did search.
The conflict pitched and swirled all about the Dunker Church.
It seemed as if this struggle might conclude with just a draw
Til union troops obliged the rebel forces to withdraw.

They might have won the day if they’d proceeded on this course.
Burnside pressed for vict’ry, giving chase with stronger force.
“Twas not to be, Hill had returned, Harper’s Ferry having won;
Whose counterattack soon put the Union soldiers on the run.

The fight would span another day with neither giving in
Pausing only long enough to gather wounded men.
Though Lee was bad outnumbered, the books say two to one;
He would not give the order to his men to turn and run,

‘Til night fell o’er the battlefield, he started pulling back.
Retreating to the far side of the River Potomac
Into the nearest Valley, Shenandoah called by name
Concluding this adventure which would gain historic fame.

Over twenty thousand troops had died in just one day
Sons, brothers and fathers, their lives savaged away.
With neither side victorious, I query “What’s it worth?
So many souls have died and no one claims this piece of earth!”

It seems a lesson should be learned from such a waste of life
That there was no real point to continue with this strife
But it would rage for years to come as everybody knew
Despite bloody Antietam in Eighteen Sixty Two.

David E. Dunham, Sept. 2007

Antietam 1862

David Dunham

Overland Park, United States

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