The Solitary Stone

THE SOLITARY STONE

James Butcher

THE SOLITARY STONE

By Ralph West Mills, a member of the 27th Georgia Regiment Camp 1404, Gainesville, GA

 

Dedicated to those veterans who await the Resurrection in long forgotten plots scattered throughout our Southland.  These countless heroes of old, lay forgotten in some little grave plot above terraced woodland and river bottoms that once were plowed and tended by them.  The forgotten men of the land offer each of us descendants a heritage that should be held dear.

 

Traversing through forgotten wood, I chanced upon a site long since removed from human view, yet beaconing to a light.

 The low rock wall breached here and there by massive forest timber held within its moss-draped stone an epic to remember

 No history would recount the lore now cradled neath the stone; No tower standing sentinel to this sacred spot alone.

 For within the confines of the wall a story nonetheless lay beneath the leaf-strewn sod of a hero’s great duress

 Among the field stones still in place near the corner of the lot stood the only granite marker, above the resting spot.

 The pointed tip with words below revealed no revered name, but state and regimental mark spoke volumes all the same.

 His mortal members long since changed into this hallowed soil gave up no secrets from the grave of blood and sweat and toil.

 The dates upon this weathered stone told how his youth was spent.

He marched with heroes of the South, his very soul he lent.

 Five hundred miles from hearth and home he sacrificed his will—upon the fields of battle, ground in death’s horror mill.

 He knew his neighbor’s splattered blood upon his sunburned cheek—the agony of fighting on with rations oh so meek .

 He knew he had to leave behind his childhood friend in need, ‘neath the rock-strewn Round Top Hill, left only for to bleed

 He knew the heartbreak he had felt when stacking arms that day, when all was lost and his just cause seemed  fast to fade away.

 Returning home to conquered land beneath this wooded slope, he farmed the bottoms and red clay hills for no reward save hope.

 Beside him, faded name scratched in, lay his beloved wife and about him graves of his offspring, testimony to his life.

 For me, among these lonely stones, his story does unfold, a common man who farmed this land as the generation rolled.

He was one of many, but the only one placed here who spilt his youth in four long years in defense of what was dear.

 His name lives not in historical account save on some archival roster—School children will not sit spellbound or greatness none will foster.

 But beneath this sod lies hero great in hallowed ground to molder, facing east awaiting the trumpet’s call lies and enlisted Confederate soldier.

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