John F. McCullagh
Hearts Touched By Fire - Poem by John F. McCullagh
Half obscured by powder smoke, the long Grey line comes on.
“Double canister and hard shot, pour it on them boys! ”
They dress the line and still they come, inexorably, like fate.
We are in need of some support, but will it come too late?
A high wood fence disrupts their charge, like clotting blood they mass.
As many a dying Virginian boy wishes for his cup to pass.
“For Fredericksburg! ” “For Fredericksburg! ” Alonzo Cushing cried.
We worked our guns and gave them hell for all our friends who’d died.
Our blood is up and still they come, over the parapet.
We are all determined this is as far as they will get.
A breath of air, a cooling drink, a lover’s soft embrace;
Strange things crowd into your mind when in a hellish place.
A company of New Yorkers, coming on the double quick,
Have piled into the Rebel mass where the fighting was most thick.
Back you go, proud Virginians, back over the low stone wall.
Not so many as started out, no longer proud and tall.
A rebel of some prominence sits, dying, near my gun.
He asks for General Hancock, strange to hear that name upon his tongue.
My friend, Alonzo Cushing, lies beside the caisson where
He bleeds profusely from his wounds. He is too far gone to care.
He will not live to see the Sun rise in the East again,
Or live to hear a nation’s thanks for what he did for them.
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