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A Stop at Stone's River

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  • Mike Vanderboegh
    Steve Basic wrote: Add Murfreesboro to the list...I stopped there before I went to Franklin, and was shocked at the development in that area...Great
    Message 1 of 6 , Jul 16, 2003
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      Steve Basic wrote:

      Add Murfreesboro to the list...I stopped there before I went to Franklin, and was shocked at the development in that area...Great battlefield though, and a fine staff work there, and I heartily recommend all who have not gone there, to make a visit, as that battlefield is constantly struggling with losing more ground to 21st Century commercialism.

      Hope all is well.

      Steve Basic
       
      Dear Steve,
       
      I haven't been back to Murfreesboro (Stone's River) since 1989 when I was researching the part my great-great grandfather Jannes "Cornelius" Vanderboegh played in the fight.  Cornelius enlisted in the 21st Michigan Infantry, but was transferred to the artillery branch and at Stone's River was wounded and captured while fighting with the 10 pound Parrott section of Hescock's Battery G, 1st Missouri Light Artillery (they anchored Sheridan's line at the Slaughter Pen).
       
      I had made a serious study of the fight and so when I walked the ground I was able to see in my mind's eye the fight as it crashed down around him like an inexorable tide.  It was a singular experience.  Afterward, as my wife drove us back, I wrote the following prose poem of my "Stop at Stone's River."
       
      A Stop At Stone's River
       
      There was an old man I knew once, who said
      Raindrops were God's tears.  "The world is so wicked," he vowed,
      "That every now and then God can only cry for what he made
      And in weeping, rinse us clean again, if only for a little while."
       
      The old man is dead now, but I thought of him when I got
      Out of the car into the cold drizzle of late December.
      I was looking for a place where my blood had been once
      Long, long before my birth.
       
      Not many seasons from Holland it was when he came to
      This place in the cedars.  Fleeing revolution, he found
      A new country and soon, a war.  For what?  Freedom?
      Whose, and why?  Once among the rocks it didn't matter,
      Or maybe it mattered too much.
       
      It was this place I had come to find.  His place.  Our place.
      "We are coming Father Abraham, three hundred thousand strong."
      To this spot in Hell's middle ground.  Then, it was shrieks
      And sighs, curses and prayers that no one heard for the noise;
      FOR THE NOISE!
       
      In a solid wall, booms and bangs fused into a universe of deaf
      Pain. (The Johnnies charged through a cotton field, and paused
      To pluck the raw bolls and stuff their ears-- it did no good.)
      They ran on and he killed them with each blast of the Parrott.
      The canister shredded them, cotton still hanging from their dead ears.
       
      HE had no cotton.  His Lieutenant screamed into his ear, inches away,
      He could not hear... he shook his head and the officer motioned
      Until he understood and put his shoulder to the wheel of the gun
      And moved it again to greet more Johnnies, always more.
       
      But now, it was quiet in the rain except for the whizzing of traffic
      On the road.  Then it had been called the Wilkinson Pike.
      Now it was something else, Manson Road or something.  Had Charles M.
      Come from here?  He could have, the ground was soaked with blood.
       
      A lady stopped her van on the road and hollered at me, walking back
      To the car.  It was, she said, a heckuva place to stop.  Didn't I
      Know it was a dangerous road?  Her niece had just been killed in a
      Car wreck a little ways from there last week.  In her own pain she
      Cried out, Didn't I know it was a dangerous road?
       
      Well, it always had been, didn't SHE know?  That's what I thought,
      But I tried to tell her that my Great-great- (how many greats?)
      Grandfather had been wounded in this place but she rolled up her
      Window and drove away, fed up with tourists.  HER blood was too fresh
      To worry about the old.
       
      It was fresh then too, Oh by the gallon it was fresh.  Near where
      The niece died an Illinois boy a long way from home had walked up
      To his Colonel and handed in his musket during a lull.  He had to
      Go home on furlough now, said he couldn't fight anymore but he'd
      Leave his rifle for another.
       
      The boy asked the Colonel if he knew where he could find a doctor
      And the man looked down then and saw the boy's intestines were
      Hanging down his legs, threatening to touch the ground.  The Colonel
      Pointed toward the log house that served as an excuse for a hospital
      And the boy shambled off, looking for a place to die.
       
      The boy didn't find his place until the next day, screaming out
      His last hours, screaming that his guts were on fire and please
      God, wouldn't someone put it out?  Happy New Year's Day, it was,
      1863.  Auld Lang Syne in Tennessee.  So you see the niece had
      Company when she died, for it was a dying place.
       
      I found HIS place, the cedars gone now, the rocks still there.
      Where his brave, screaming Lieutenant died (tyring to save his
      Guns, out of ammunition, he took a minie ball in the face and
      It blew the back of his head off.  He was mercifully dead before
      He hit the ground.)
       
      It's someone's side yard now, nice house, well-kept lawn.  The
      Ditch where the disembowelled horses lay screaming, always
      Screaming, everybody and everything SCREAMING...The horses
      In their harnesses screaming, their death ditch is filled with beer
      Bottles and McDonald's bags.  No monuments here, only ghosts.
       
      The Johnnies on three sides, they were trying to get the guns
      Out, the Lieutenant already dead, all the horses dead or dying
      They pulled the Parrotts by hand over the rocks, the Johnnies right
      Behind.  The battery beside them overrun before their eyes, bayonets
      And sabres and rammers and handspikes and rocks..They fought
      Like demons until the gray tide swallowed them.
       
      The infantry had run too, no more ammunition.  Somehow they saved the
      Guns-- their's alone.  THEY, not HE.  For HE was down, at this place,
      Shot in the hip he lay amongst the rocks and wondered if he was dying.
      Thousands lay all around him already dead-- those that survived would
      Search for words to describe this place, they settled on "The Slaughter Pen."
       
      He made it to the log house, and laid down beside the boy whose guts
      Were afire.  Did he crawl, or was he helped by a Johnnie looking for a
      Buddy?  Outside a pile of arms and legs grew larger, the freezing drizzle and
      The moonlight making them into glistening, hairy white worms like
      Maggots gone riot and all night long the boy screamed.
       
      You can still see the hospital, (or rather, where it was), someone's back
      Yard it is now, dead leaves neatly raked, manicured lawn.
      Do they hear the screaming late at night, do you think?  Somewhere
      Between sleep and consciousness, do they hear the boy begging for someone
      To kill him?  I hope so.
       
      From this place, this slaughter pen, HE was taken, a prisoner.  Long
      Journey to the Libby Hell and through it, he was finally exchanged.
      His war over.  He went back to his farm in Michigan, living out his life
      In pain from that day, that place and from him in time came me, my father,
      My son.
       
      How many times did HE wake in the cold Michigan nights of later Decembers,
      Sitting straight up in bed bathed in sweat and screams?  How often did the
      Lieutenant die in the dark or the white worms glisten in the moonlight of
      Another night?  Did his wife know when he heard the screams?
      Could SHE hear them?
       
      Today I returned to his place looking for a part of me and finding
      More.  There are places where time and space intersect-- where you can
      Stand today and feel Yesterday looking over your shoulder, or see it
      Played out in front of your eyes.  Hear it roaring in your ears.
       
      How permanent is Time?  More lasting than Place?  Do they still fight today
      In long lines of screaming men, running through the carports, firing in the
      Living rooms, taking shelter behind the BMWs?  When the blond-headed
      Tennessee boy dies in the bathroom does his hand touch the commode,
      The cotton still sticking from his ears?
       
      The dark and bloody ground still claims its victims-- with so much Death
      Compressed in one place how could it be otherwise?  Death lives on past
      Its time-- and even if it does not should we build houses in our own 
      Cemeteries?  Should we play on killing fields, Bathe in Slaughter Pens?
       
      Can even God's tears ever cleanse such a place?  I wondered as we drove away
      From his place, his slaughter pen.  I understood now what had happened to
      HIM that day-- not yet fully understanding what had happened to me THIS
      Day.  And through it all, it was raining.
       
      31 December 1989
       
      Mike Vanderboegh
      P.O. Box 926
      Pinson, AL  35126
      Copyright, 1990.
       
       
    • basecat1@aol.com
      Mike, Thanks for sharing the poem with the group....Much appreciated. Hope all is well. Regards from the Garden State, Steve Basic
      Message 2 of 6 , Jul 16, 2003
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        Mike,

        Thanks for sharing the poem with the group....Much appreciated.

        Hope all is well.

        Regards from the Garden State,

        Steve Basic
      • GnrlJEJohnston@aol.com
        ... DITTO Mike, as I have written some poetry myself, I know exactly the feelings you had within your heart when you wrote this poem. JEJ
        Message 3 of 6 , Jul 16, 2003
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          In a message dated 7/16/2003 10:36:53 PM Eastern Standard Time, basecat1 writes:

          > Mike,
          >
          > Thanks for sharing the poem with the group....Much
          > appreciated.
          >
          > Hope all is well.
          >
          > Regards from the Garden State,
          >
          > Steve Basic

          DITTO

          Mike, as I have written some poetry myself, I know exactly the feelings you had within your heart when you wrote this poem.

          JEJ
        • hartshje
          Mike, Bless you, and all others who can somehow put into words the deepest thoughts and feelings we can have when going to a place like this. I have been
          Message 4 of 6 , Jul 17, 2003
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            Mike,

            Bless you, and all others who can somehow put into words the deepest
            thoughts and feelings we can have when going to a place like this. I
            have been there, and many other such places, and your words are a
            tribute to all of them. I wonder if the people who don't seem to
            care are capable of these thoughts and feelings. Are they just cold
            inside, or just ignorant of the events? Or is it just too much for
            them to handle, so they just push it aside? Thank you so much for
            writing your story, and for sharing it with us.

            Best regards,
            Joe

            --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "Mike Vanderboegh"
            <vanderbo@b...> wrote:
            >
            > I haven't been back to Murfreesboro (Stone's River) since 1989 when
            I was researching the part my great-great grandfather
            Jannes "Cornelius" Vanderboegh played in the fight. Cornelius
            enlisted in the 21st Michigan Infantry, but was transferred to the
            artillery branch and at Stone's River was wounded and captured while
            fighting with the 10 pound Parrott section of Hescock's Battery G,
            1st Missouri Light Artillery (they anchored Sheridan's line at the
            Slaughter Pen).
            >
            > I had made a serious study of the fight and so when I walked the
            ground I was able to see in my mind's eye the fight as it crashed
            down around him like an inexorable tide. It was a singular
            experience. Afterward, as my wife drove us back, I wrote the
            following prose poem of my "Stop at Stone's River."
            >
            > A Stop At Stone's River
            >
            > There was an old man I knew once, who said
            > Raindrops were God's tears. "The world is so wicked," he vowed,
            > "That every now and then God can only cry for what he made
            > And in weeping, rinse us clean again, if only for a little while."
            >
            > The old man is dead now, but I thought of him when I got
            > Out of the car into the cold drizzle of late December.
            > I was looking for a place where my blood had been once
            > Long, long before my birth.
            >
            > Not many seasons from Holland it was when he came to
            > This place in the cedars. Fleeing revolution, he found
            > A new country and soon, a war. For what? Freedom?
            > Whose, and why? Once among the rocks it didn't matter,
            > Or maybe it mattered too much.
            >
            > It was this place I had come to find. His place. Our place.
            > "We are coming Father Abraham, three hundred thousand strong."
            > To this spot in Hell's middle ground. Then, it was shrieks
            > And sighs, curses and prayers that no one heard for the noise;
            > FOR THE NOISE!
            >
            > In a solid wall, booms and bangs fused into a universe of deaf
            > Pain. (The Johnnies charged through a cotton field, and paused
            > To pluck the raw bolls and stuff their ears-- it did no good.)
            > They ran on and he killed them with each blast of the Parrott.
            > The canister shredded them, cotton still hanging from their dead
            ears.
            >
            > HE had no cotton. His Lieutenant screamed into his ear, inches
            away,
            > He could not hear... he shook his head and the officer motioned
            > Until he understood and put his shoulder to the wheel of the gun
            > And moved it again to greet more Johnnies, always more.
            >
            > But now, it was quiet in the rain except for the whizzing of traffic
            > On the road. Then it had been called the Wilkinson Pike.
            > Now it was something else, Manson Road or something. Had Charles
            M.
            > Come from here? He could have, the ground was soaked with blood.
            >
            > A lady stopped her van on the road and hollered at me, walking back
            > To the car. It was, she said, a heckuva place to stop. Didn't I
            > Know it was a dangerous road? Her niece had just been killed in a
            > Car wreck a little ways from there last week. In her own pain she
            > Cried out, Didn't I know it was a dangerous road?
            >
            > Well, it always had been, didn't SHE know? That's what I thought,
            > But I tried to tell her that my Great-great- (how many greats?)
            > Grandfather had been wounded in this place but she rolled up her
            > Window and drove away, fed up with tourists. HER blood was too
            fresh
            > To worry about the old.
            >
            > It was fresh then too, Oh by the gallon it was fresh. Near where
            > The niece died an Illinois boy a long way from home had walked up
            > To his Colonel and handed in his musket during a lull. He had to
            > Go home on furlough now, said he couldn't fight anymore but he'd
            > Leave his rifle for another.
            >
            > The boy asked the Colonel if he knew where he could find a doctor
            > And the man looked down then and saw the boy's intestines were
            > Hanging down his legs, threatening to touch the ground. The Colonel
            > Pointed toward the log house that served as an excuse for a hospital
            > And the boy shambled off, looking for a place to die.
            >
            > The boy didn't find his place until the next day, screaming out
            > His last hours, screaming that his guts were on fire and please
            > God, wouldn't someone put it out? Happy New Year's Day, it was,
            > 1863. Auld Lang Syne in Tennessee. So you see the niece had
            > Company when she died, for it was a dying place.
            >
            > I found HIS place, the cedars gone now, the rocks still there.
            > Where his brave, screaming Lieutenant died (tyring to save his
            > Guns, out of ammunition, he took a minie ball in the face and
            > It blew the back of his head off. He was mercifully dead before
            > He hit the ground.)
            >
            > It's someone's side yard now, nice house, well-kept lawn. The
            > Ditch where the disembowelled horses lay screaming, always
            > Screaming, everybody and everything SCREAMING...The horses
            > In their harnesses screaming, their death ditch is filled with beer
            > Bottles and McDonald's bags. No monuments here, only ghosts.
            >
            > The Johnnies on three sides, they were trying to get the guns
            > Out, the Lieutenant already dead, all the horses dead or dying
            > They pulled the Parrotts by hand over the rocks, the Johnnies right
            > Behind. The battery beside them overrun before their eyes, bayonets
            > And sabres and rammers and handspikes and rocks..They fought
            > Like demons until the gray tide swallowed them.
            >
            > The infantry had run too, no more ammunition. Somehow they saved
            the
            > Guns-- their's alone. THEY, not HE. For HE was down, at this
            place,
            > Shot in the hip he lay amongst the rocks and wondered if he was
            dying.
            > Thousands lay all around him already dead-- those that survived
            would
            > Search for words to describe this place, they settled on "The
            Slaughter Pen."
            >
            > He made it to the log house, and laid down beside the boy whose guts
            > Were afire. Did he crawl, or was he helped by a Johnnie looking
            for a
            > Buddy? Outside a pile of arms and legs grew larger, the freezing
            drizzle and
            > The moonlight making them into glistening, hairy white worms like
            > Maggots gone riot and all night long the boy screamed.
            >
            > You can still see the hospital, (or rather, where it was),
            someone's back
            > Yard it is now, dead leaves neatly raked, manicured lawn.
            > Do they hear the screaming late at night, do you think? Somewhere
            > Between sleep and consciousness, do they hear the boy begging for
            someone
            > To kill him? I hope so.
            >
            > From this place, this slaughter pen, HE was taken, a prisoner. Long
            > Journey to the Libby Hell and through it, he was finally exchanged.
            > His war over. He went back to his farm in Michigan, living out his
            life
            > In pain from that day, that place and from him in time came me, my
            father,
            > My son.
            >
            > How many times did HE wake in the cold Michigan nights of later
            Decembers,
            > Sitting straight up in bed bathed in sweat and screams? How often
            did the
            > Lieutenant die in the dark or the white worms glisten in the
            moonlight of
            > Another night? Did his wife know when he heard the screams?
            > Could SHE hear them?
            >
            > Today I returned to his place looking for a part of me and finding
            > More. There are places where time and space intersect-- where you
            can
            > Stand today and feel Yesterday looking over your shoulder, or see it
            > Played out in front of your eyes. Hear it roaring in your ears.
            >
            > How permanent is Time? More lasting than Place? Do they still
            fight today
            > In long lines of screaming men, running through the carports,
            firing in the
            > Living rooms, taking shelter behind the BMWs? When the blond-headed
            > Tennessee boy dies in the bathroom does his hand touch the commode,
            > The cotton still sticking from his ears?
            >
            > The dark and bloody ground still claims its victims-- with so much
            Death
            > Compressed in one place how could it be otherwise? Death lives on
            past
            > Its time-- and even if it does not should we build houses in our
            own
            > Cemeteries? Should we play on killing fields, Bathe in Slaughter
            Pens?
            >
            > Can even God's tears ever cleanse such a place? I wondered as we
            drove away
            > From his place, his slaughter pen. I understood now what had
            happened to
            > HIM that day-- not yet fully understanding what had happened to me
            THIS
            > Day. And through it all, it was raining.
            >
            > 31 December 1989
            >
            > Mike Vanderboegh
            > P.O. Box 926
            > Pinson, AL 35126
            > Copyright, 1990.
          • Alan Smolinski
            A most inspiring poem, fills me with emotion found only on my battlefield exploits. As a Slav my heritage extends to to plains of middle Europe during this
            Message 5 of 6 , Jul 24, 2003
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              A most inspiring poem, fills me with emotion found only on my battlefield exploits.  As a Slav my heritage extends to to plains of middle Europe during this tumultuous period but the empathy of our heritage despoiled is strong.  By birth a bummer from the Wolverine State I greatly empathize with those living at historical sites and always try to understand their stance in the progress of America.  No better tour guide than a local if given the oppurtunity.  Best battlefield experience a tour of a backyard wher VonCorput' emplacements still visible in Resaca.  Still tragically, the Seige lines of Petersburg and Salem Church assault sit beneath the parking lots of  malls in America because we have moved on, space in America is valuable, and capitalism thrives.  The sites of Union victory in Atlanta were slowly habitated by local poor and to them I'm sure they love their home.  And we looking for McPherson's or Walker's Death sites are intervening in their right to peace and privacy.  Bald Hill is an exchange on the Atlanta Beltway , poorly landscaped by Georgia public works.  Ezra Church  and Jonesboro are housing tracts.  Orchard Knob in Chattanooga and the southern approach to Sherman reservation are in poor neighborhoods and outsiders need tread cautiously and respectfully.  And yes you have to watch out for poison ivy on Sherman reserve but the advantage held by Cleburne is well understood by walking the ground and we do this willingly.  
              Still the success to preserve is impressive also.  Kenesaw Mt,  Chatt Heights, Pickett's Mill, Chickamauga, Vicksburg still are tracts where you can feel the past.  Whether those once embroiled have an impact on those currently present will always depend on the insight of the observer.  It make me consider time/ space continuum events and want to believe the past will always impact if not influence the present.  What was there will always be there in those that understand the relevence of history.  A glimpse of the past is the basis for most of my travels.  Look at the number who argue over the trivialities of this war 140 years later.
              Alan Smolinski
              PS  A discussion on Southern Calvarymen in the West without mentioning Jo Shelby?
              What gives?  His superb tactical leadership of the Confederacy's Iron Brigade are tres impressive.  The Mo raid of '63 and Price's '64 raid are the wars most extensive invasions.Rear guard actions in Arkansas and Westport are superb.  To be so caught up in the emotion as to never surrender and rather banish himself to Mexico alone deserve distinction.  And no mention of Joe Wheeler's skill and dash, probably as he served the 'Union' during the Spanish American War as a 'Union' Brigadier.

               hartshje <Hartshje@...> wrote:
              Mike,

              Bless you, and all others who can somehow put into words the deepest
              thoughts and feelings we can have when going to a place like this.  I
              have been there, and many other such places, and your words are a
              tribute to all of them.  I wonder if the people who don't seem to
              care are capable of these thoughts and feelings.  Are they just cold
              inside, or just ignorant of the events?  Or is it just too much for
              them to handle, so they just push it aside?  Thank you so much for
              writing your story, and for sharing it with us.

              Best regards,
              Joe

              --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "Mike Vanderboegh"
              <vanderbo@b...> wrote:
              >
              > I haven't been back to Murfreesboro (Stone's River) since 1989 when
              I was researching the part my great-great grandfather
              Jannes "Cornelius" Vanderboegh played in the fight.  Cornelius
              enlisted in the 21st Michigan Infantry, but was transferred to the
              artillery branch and at Stone's River was wounded and captured while
              fighting with the 10 pound Parrott section of Hescock's Battery G,
              1st Missouri Light Artillery (they anchored Sheridan's line at the
              Slaughter Pen).
              >
              > I had made a serious study of the fight and so when I walked the
              ground I was able to see in my mind's eye the fight as it crashed
              down around him like an inexorable tide.  It was a singular
              experience.  Afterward, as my wife drove us back, I wrote the
              following prose poem of my "Stop at Stone's River."
              >
              > A Stop At Stone's River
              >
              > There was an old man I knew once, who said
              > Raindrops were God's tears.  "The world is so wicked," he vowed,
              > "That every now and then God can only cry for what he made
              > And in weeping, rinse us clean again, if only for a little while."
              >
              > The old man is dead now, but I thought of him when I got
              > Out of the car into the cold drizzle of late December.
              > I was looking for a place where my blood had been once
              > Long, long before my birth.
              >
              > Not many seasons from Holland it was when he came to
              > This place in the cedars.  Fleeing revolution, he found
              > A new country and soon, a war.  For what?  Freedom?
              > Whose, and why?  Once among the rocks it didn't matter,
              > Or maybe it mattered too much.
              >
              > It was this place I had come to find.  His place.  Our place.
              > "We are coming Father Abraham, three hundred thousand strong."
              > To this spot in Hell's middle ground.  Then, it was shrieks
              > And sighs, curses and prayers that no one heard for the noise;
              > FOR THE NOISE!
              >
              > In a solid wall, booms and bangs fused into a universe of deaf
              > Pain. (The Johnnies charged through a cotton field, and paused
              > To pluck the raw bolls and stuff their ears-- it did no good.)
              > They ran on and he killed them with each blast of the Parrott.
              > The canister shredded them, cotton still hanging from their dead
              ears.
              >
              > HE had no cotton.  His Lieutenant screamed into his ear, inches
              away,
              > He could not hear... he shook his head and the officer motioned
              > Until he understood and put his shoulder to the wheel of the gun
              > And moved it again to greet more Johnnies, always more.
              >
              > But now, it was quiet in the rain except for the whizzing of traffic
              > On the road.  Then it had been called the Wilkinson Pike.
              > Now it was something else, Manson Road or something.  Had Charles
              M.
              > Come from here?  He could have, the ground was soaked with blood.
              >
              > A lady stopped her van on the road and hollered at me, walking back
              > To the car.  It was, she said, a heckuva place to stop.  Didn't I
              > Know it was a dangerous road?  Her niece had just been killed in a
              > Car wreck a little ways from there last week.  In her own pain she
              > Cried out, Didn't I know it was a dangerous road?
              >
              > Well, it always had been, didn't SHE know?  That's what I thought,
              > But I tried to tell her that my Great-great- (how many greats?)
              > Grandfather had been wounded in this place but she rolled up her
              > Window and drove away, fed up with tourists.  HER blood was too
              fresh
              > To worry about the old.
              >
              > It was fresh then too, Oh by the gallon it was fresh.  Near where
              > The niece died an Illinois boy a long way from home had walked up
              > To his Colonel and handed in his musket during a lull.  He had to
              > Go home on furlough now, said he couldn't fight anymore but he'd
              > Leave his rifle for another.
              >
              > The boy asked the Colonel if he knew where he could find a doctor
              > And the man looked down then and saw the boy's intestines were
              > Hanging down his legs, threatening to touch the ground.  The Colonel
              > Pointed toward the log house that served as an excuse for a hospital
              > And the boy shambled off, looking for a place to die.
              >
              > The boy didn't find his place until the next day, screaming out
              > His last hours, screaming that his guts were on fire and please
              > God, wouldn't someone put it out?  Happy New Year's Day, it was,
              > 1863.  Auld Lang Syne in Tennessee.  So you see the niece had
              > Company when she died, for it was a dying place.
              >
              > I found HIS place, the cedars gone now, the rocks still there.
              > Where his brave, screaming Lieutenant died (tyring to save his
              > Guns, out of ammunition, he took a minie ball in the face and
              > It blew the back of his head off.  He was mercifully dead before
              > He hit the ground.)
              >
              > It's someone's side yard now, nice house, well-kept lawn.  The
              > Ditch where the disembowelled horses lay screaming, always
              > Screaming, everybody and everything SCREAMING...The horses
              > In their harnesses screaming, their death ditch is filled with beer
              > Bottles and McDonald's bags.  No monuments here, only ghosts.
              >
              > The Johnnies on three sides, they were trying to get the guns
              > Out, the Lieutenant already dead, all the horses dead or dying
              > They pulled the Parrotts by hand over the rocks, the Johnnies right
              > Behind.  The battery beside them overrun before their eyes, bayonets
              > And sabres and rammers and handspikes and rocks..They fought
              > Like demons until the gray tide swallowed them.
              >
              > The infantry had run too, no more ammunition.  Somehow they saved
              the
              > Guns-- their's alone.  THEY, not HE.  For HE was down, at this
              place,
              > Shot in the hip he lay amongst the rocks and wondered if he was
              dying.
              > Thousands lay all around him already dead-- those that survived
              would
              > Search for words to describe this place, they settled on "The
              Slaughter Pen."
              >
              > He made it to the log house, and laid down beside the boy whose guts
              > Were afire.  Did he crawl, or was he helped by a Johnnie looking
              for a
              > Buddy?  Outside a pile of arms and legs grew larger, the freezing
              drizzle and
              > The moonlight making them into glistening, hairy white worms like
              > Maggots gone riot and all night long the boy screamed.
              >
              > You can still see the hospital, (or rather, where it was),
              someone's back
              > Yard it is now, dead leaves neatly raked, manicured lawn.
              > Do they hear the screaming late at night, do you think?  Somewhere
              > Between sleep and consciousness, do they hear the boy begging for
              someone
              > To kill him?  I hope so.
              >
              > From this place, this slaughter pen, HE was taken, a prisoner.  Long
              > Journey to the Libby Hell and through it, he was finally exchanged.
              > His war over.  He went back to his farm in Michigan, living out his
              life
              > In pain from that day, that place and from him in time came me, my
              father,
              > My son.
              >
              > How many times did HE wake in the cold Michigan nights of later
              Decembers,
              > Sitting straight up in bed bathed in sweat and screams?  How often
              did the
              > Lieutenant die in the dark or the white worms glisten in the
              moonlight of
              > Another night?  Did his wife know when he heard the screams?
              > Could SHE hear them?
              >
              > Today I returned to his place looking for a part of me and finding
              > More.  There are places where time and space intersect-- where you
              can
              > Stand today and feel Yesterday looking over your shoulder, or see it
              > Played out in front of your eyes.  Hear it roaring in your ears.
              >
              > How permanent is Time?  More lasting than Place?  Do they still
              fight today
              > In long lines of screaming men, running through the carports,
              firing in the
              > Living rooms, taking shelter behind the BMWs?  When the blond-headed
              > Tennessee boy dies in the bathroom does his hand touch the commode,
              > The cotton still sticking from his ears?
              >
              > The dark and bloody ground still claims its victims-- with so much
              Death
              > Compressed in one place how could it be otherwise?  Death lives on
              past
              > Its time-- and even if it does not should we build houses in our
              own
              > Cemeteries?  Should we play on killing fields, Bathe in Slaughter
              Pens?
              >
              > Can even God's tears ever cleanse such a place?  I wondered as we
              drove away
              > From his place, his slaughter pen.  I understood now what had
              happened to
              > HIM that day-- not yet fully understanding what had happened to me
              THIS
              > Day.  And through it all, it was raining.
              >
              > 31 December 1989
              >
              > Mike Vanderboegh
              > P.O. Box 926
              > Pinson, AL  35126
              > Copyright, 1990.



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            • tmix
              With all that we have written and I have yet to mention Ben Grierson s raid deep into the South. Tom Mix ... From: Alan Smolinski [mailto:smolverine@yahoo.com]
              Message 6 of 6 , Jul 24, 2003
              • 0 Attachment

                With all that we have written and I have yet to mention Ben Grierson’s raid deep into the South. Tom Mix

                 

                -----Original Message-----
                From: Alan Smolinski [mailto:smolverine@...]
                Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2003 11:56 PM
                To: civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com
                Subject: Re: [civilwarwest] Re: A Stop at Stone's River

                 

                A most inspiring poem, fills me with emotion found only on my battlefield exploits.  As a Slav my heritage extends to to plains of middle Europe during this tumultuous period but the empathy of our heritage despoiled is strong.  By birth a bummer from the Wolverine State I greatly empathize with those living at historical sites and always try to understand their stance in the progress of America.  No better tour guide than a local if given the oppurtunity.  Best battlefield experience a tour of a backyard wher VonCorput' emplacements still visible in Resaca.  Still tragically, the Seige lines of Petersburg and Salem Church assault sit beneath the parking lots of  malls in America because we have moved on, space in America is valuable, and capitalism thrives.  The sites of Union victory in Atlanta were slowly habitated by local poor and to them I'm sure they love their home.  And we looking for McPherson's or Walker's Death sites are intervening in their right to peace and privacy.  Bald Hill is an exchange on the Atlanta Beltway , poorly landscaped by Georgia public works.  Ezra Church  and Jonesboro are housing tracts.  Orchard Knob in Chattanooga and the southern approach to Sherman reservation are in poor neighborhoods and outsiders need tread cautiously and respectfully.  And yes you have to watch out for poison ivy on Sherman reserve but the advantage held by Cleburne is well understood by walking the ground and we do this willingly.  

                Still the success to preserve is impressive also.  Kenesaw Mt,  Chatt Heights, Pickett's Mill, Chickamauga, Vicksburg still are tracts where you can feel the past.  Whether those once embroiled have an impact on those currently present will always depend on the insight of the observer.  It make me consider time/ space continuum events and want to believe the past will always impact if not influence the present.  What was there will always be there in those that understand the relevence of history.  A glimpse of the past is the basis for most of my travels.  Look at the number who argue over the trivialities of this war 140 years later.
                Alan Smolinski

                PS  A discussion on Southern Calvarymen in the West without mentioning Jo Shelby?

                What gives?  His superb tactical leadership of the Confederacy's Iron Brigade are tres impressive.  The Mo raid of '63 and Price's '64 raid are the wars most extensive invasions.Rear guard actions in Arkansas and Westport are superb.  To be so caught up in the emotion as to never surrender and rather banish himself to Mexico alone deserve distinction.  And no mention of Joe Wheeler's skill and dash, probably as he served the 'Union' during the Spanish American War as a 'Union' Brigadier.


                 hartshje <Hartshje@...> wrote:

                Mike,

                Bless you, and all others who can somehow put into words the deepest
                thoughts and feelings we can have when going to a place like this.  I
                have been there, and many other such places, and your words are a
                tribute to all of them.  I wonder if the people who don't seem to
                care are capable of these thoughts and feelings.  Are they just cold
                inside, or just ignorant of the events?  Or is it just too much for
                them to handle, so they just push it aside?  Thank you so much for
                writing your story, and for sharing it with us.

                Best regards,
                Joe

                --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "Mike Vanderboegh"
                <vanderbo@b...> wrote:
                >
                > I haven't been back to Murfreesboro (Stone's River) since 1989 when
                I was researching the part my great-great grandfather
                Jannes "Cornelius" Vanderboegh played in the fight.  Cornelius
                enlisted in the 21st Michigan Infantry, but was transferred to the
                artillery branch and at Stone's River was wounded and captured while
                fighting with the 10 pound Parrott section of Hescock's Battery G,
                1st Missouri Light Artillery (they anchored Sheridan's line at the
                Slaughter Pen).
                >
                > I had made a serious study of the fight and so when I walked the
                ground I was able to see in my mind's eye the fight as it crashed
                down around him like an inexorable tide.  It was a singular
                experience.  Afterward, as my wife drove us back, I wrote the
                following prose poem of my "Stop at Stone's River."
                >
                > A Stop At Stone's River
                >
                > There was an old man I knew once, who said
                > Raindrops were God's tears.  "The world is so wicked," he vowed,
                > "That every now and then God can only cry for what he made
                > And in weeping, rinse us clean again, if only for a little while."
                >
                > The old man is dead now, but I thought of him when I got
                > Out of the car into the cold drizzle of late December.
                > I was looking for a place where my blood had been once
                > Long, long before my birth.
                >
                > Not many seasons from Holland it was when he came to
                > This place in the cedars.  Fleeing revolution, he found
                > A new country and soon, a war.  For what?  Freedom?
                > Whose, and why?  Once among the rocks it didn't matter,
                > Or maybe it mattered too much.
                >
                > It was this place I had come to find.  His place.  Our place.
                > "We are coming Father Abraham, three hundred thousand strong."
                > To this spot in Hell's middle ground.  Then, it was shrieks
                > And sighs, curses and prayers that no one heard for the noise;
                > FOR THE NOISE!
                >
                > In a solid wall, booms and bangs fused into a universe of deaf
                > Pain. (The Johnnies charged through a cotton field, and paused
                > To pluck the raw bolls and stuff their ears-- it did no good.)
                > They ran on and he killed them with each blast of the Parrott.
                > The canister shredded them, cotton still hanging from their dead
                ears.
                >
                > HE had no cotton.  His Lieutenant screamed into his ear, inches
                away,
                > He could not hear... he shook his head and the officer motioned
                > Until he understood and put his shoulder to the wheel of the gun
                > And moved it again to greet more Johnnies, always more.
                >
                > But now, it was quiet in the rain except for the whizzing of traffic
                > On the road.  Then it had been called the Wilkinson Pike.
                > Now it was something else, Manson Road or something.  Had Charles
                M.
                > Come from here?  He could have, the ground was soaked with blood.
                >
                > A lady stopped her van on the road and hollered at me, walking back
                > To the car.  It was, she said, a heckuva place to stop.  Didn't I
                > Know it was a dangerous road?  Her niece had just been killed in a
                > Car wreck a little ways from there last week.  In her own pain she
                > Cried out, Didn't I know it was a dangerous road?
                >
                > Well, it always had been, didn't SHE know?  That's what I thought,
                > But I tried to tell her that my Great-great- (how many greats?)
                > Grandfather had been wounded in this place but she rolled up her
                > Window and drove away, fed up with tourists.  HER blood was too
                fresh
                > To worry about the old.
                >
                > It was fresh then too, Oh by the gallon it was fresh.  Near where
                > The niece died an Illinois boy a long way from home had walked up
                > To his Colonel and handed in his musket during a lull.  He had to
                > Go home on furlough now, said he couldn't fight anymore but he'd
                > Leave his rifle for another.
                >
                > The boy asked the Colonel if he knew where he could find a doctor
                > And the man looked down then and saw the boy's intestines were
                > Hanging down his legs, threatening to touch the ground.  The Colonel
                > Pointed toward the log house that served as an excuse for a hospital
                > And the boy shambled off, looking for a place to die.
                >
                > The boy didn't find his place until the next day, screaming out
                > His last hours, screaming that his guts were on fire and please
                > God, wouldn't someone put it out?  Happy New Year's Day, it was,
                > 1863.  Auld Lang Syne in Tennessee.  So you see the niece had
                > Company when she died, for it was a dying place.
                >
                > I found HIS place, the cedars gone now, the rocks still there.
                > Where his brave, screaming Lieutenant died (tyring to save his
                > Guns, out of ammunition, he took a minie ball in the face and
                > It blew the back of his head off.  He was mercifully dead before
                > He hit the ground.)
                >
                > It's someone's side yard now, nice house, well-kept lawn.  The
                > Ditch where the disembowelled horses lay screaming, always
                > Screaming, everybody and everything SCREAMING...The horses
                > In their harnesses screaming, their death ditch is filled with beer
                > Bottles and McDonald's bags.  No monuments here, only ghosts.
                >
                > The Johnnies on three sides, they were trying to get the guns
                > Out, the Lieutenant already dead, all the horses dead or dying
                > They pulled the Parrotts by hand over the rocks, the Johnnies right
                > Behind.  The battery beside them overrun before their eyes, bayonets
                > And sabres and rammers and handspikes and rocks..They fought
                > Like demons until the gray tide swallowed them.
                >
                > The infantry had run too, no more ammunition.  Somehow they saved
                the
                > Guns-- their's alone.  THEY, not HE.  For HE was down, at this
                place,
                > Shot in the hip he lay amongst the rocks and wondered if he was
                dying.
                > Thousands lay all around him already dead-- those that survived
                would
                > Search for words to describe this place, they settled on "The
                Slaughter Pen."
                >
                > He made it to the log house, and laid down beside the boy whose guts
                > Were afire.  Did he crawl, or was he helped by a Johnnie looking
                for a
                > Buddy?  Outside a pile of arms and legs grew larger, the freezing
                drizzle and
                > The moonlight making them into glistening, hairy white worms like
                > Maggots gone riot and all night long the boy screamed.
                >
                > You can still see the hospital, (or rather, where it was),
                someone's back
                > Yard it is now, dead leaves neatly raked, manicured lawn.
                > Do they hear the screaming late at night, do you think?  Somewhere
                > Between sleep and consciousness, do they hear the boy begging for
                someone
                > To kill him?  I hope so.
                >
                > From this place, this slaughter pen, HE was taken, a prisoner.  Long
                > Journey to the Libby Hell and through it, he was finally exchanged.
                > His war over.  He went back to his farm in Michigan, living out his
                life
                > In pain from that day, that place and from him in time came me, my
                father,
                > My son.
                >
                > How many times did HE wake in the cold Michigan nights of later
                Decembers,
                > Sitting straight up in bed bathed in sweat and screams?  How often
                did the
                > Lieutenant die in the dark or the white worms glisten in the
                moonlight of
                > Another night?  Did his wife know when he heard the screams?
                > Could SHE hear them?
                >
                > Today I returned to his place looking for a part of me and finding
                > More.  There are places where time and space intersect-- where you
                can
                > Stand today and feel Yesterday looking over your shoulder, or see it
                > Played out in front of your eyes.  Hear it roaring in your ears.
                >
                > How permanent is Time?  More lasting than Place?  Do they still
                fight today
                > In long lines of screaming men, running through the carports,
                firing in the
                > Living rooms, taking shelter behind the BMWs?  When the blond-headed
                > Tennessee boy dies in the bathroom does his hand touch the commode,
                > The cotton still sticking from his ears?
                >
                > The dark and bloody ground still claims its victims-- with so much
                Death
                > Compressed in one place how could it be otherwise?  Death lives on
                past
                > Its time-- and even if it does not should we build houses in our
                own
                > Cemeteries?  Should we play on killing fields, Bathe in Slaughter
                Pens?
                >
                > Can even God's tears ever cleanse such a place?  I wondered as we
                drove away
                > From his place, his slaughter pen.  I understood now what had
                happened to
                > HIM that day-- not yet fully understanding what had happened to me
                THIS
                > Day.  And through it all, it was raining.
                >
                > 31 December 1989
                >
                > Mike Vanderboegh
                > P.O. Box 926
                > Pinson, AL  35126
                > Copyright, 1990.



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