One By One

By: Wayne Brown

This shallow depression in the ground

Has been my only home now going on 43 days

We Johnny Rebs hold forth as Grant’s Armies besiege

Vicksburg had become a slaughtering ground

We sit here on this river bank entrapped

Starving while we kill the blue boys from Illinois

One by one


I reach and feel the scar’s rough edges

That has permanently marked the right side of my face

A musket ball pierced my cheek yet did not take my life

I live to see this day lying here on this shallow ground

My hunger screams to be salved with morsel

My heart longs to go home to those I love if they have not all died

One by one


I hear the volley of cannons coming from the Misissip’

The metal clad fighting boats struggle amid the strong current flow

Grant’s Army has forded the river now and shutting the world away

We lie here in this shallow depressed ground and watch as they approach

Waiting to kill the blue boys from Illinois

One by one


We barely resemble an army now our lines in disarray

The only thing that holds us here is the fight for the cause, a cause in vain

In those quiet moments when the fighting ceases

I lay here in all my filth trying to get a glimpse of the sky

Trying to see the Face of God, praying for his will to save us


One by one


For many days I thought forces would arrive to forestall the onslaught

That hope has long since faded, lost like a dream

We will stand and fight again, again, and again though we are outnumbered

We will stand and fight and surely kill those blue boys of Illinois

One by one


Tomorrow morning the sun will rise once again over that eastern ridge

I will still be here in this shallow hole in which I hide

Weakness and Hunger will blur our minds; sap our strength for the cause

Grant knows our stomachs cry and soon the white flag waves

He knows I will get up from this shallow ground which I held for 44 days

I will get up and march with my brother Johnny Rebs to surrender

One by one


(Copyright) WBrown2010


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Comments 6 comments

lalesu profile image

lalesu 6 years ago from south of the Mason-Dixon

I love history and being from the south I've had the luxury of visiting many Civil War forts and fields. I love to read the letters written by the men - in the tiniest scribble, some written cross-hatch to get the most lines on the precious paper. As always, I enjoyed it.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 6 years ago from Texas Author

Laura, I had a ggggrandfather on my dad's side of the family who served in the Confederacy and at Vicksburg. A cousin had researched it and found that he had been shot through the jaw in a previous battle. His unit lay in the trenches at Vicksburg over 40 days before surrender. They signed papers saying they would no longer take up arms but many, including him, moved on down to southern Alabama and fought again before the war ended. Thanks for taking the time to read it and comment.


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 6 years ago

Dear Wayne,

Your talent knows no bounds. Bravo, my friend.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 6 years ago from Texas Author

Thank you, Poppy...you make me blush!


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD

Powerful. As a seat of the pants historian who reads much about the Civil War, I can say that you captured the essence & feel of the siege of Vicksburg.

Very enjoyable & in some ways, a provocative read. Thanks.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 6 years ago from Texas Author

Thank you, Ken. I am not much of a poet so I am walking on the cliff edge with that one. Thanks for the read and the feedback!

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