River Ran Red Poem by Kim Barney

Kim Barney

I was born in a bank - - my mother went there and made a deposit

River Ran Red

Rating: 5.0


The Union troops were on the left,
the Rebels on the right.
Both sides prepared their cannonballs
and muskets for the fight.

A little skirmish was in store,
at least that's what they thought;
but there would never any more
be such a battle fought!

Now with the dawn the battle's on;
the guns begin to sound,
and before long there is a throng
of bodies on the ground.

Both sides expected victory
would be forthcoming soon
and were most surprised when they realized
it was already noon.

The bodies fell and landed not
upon the grass or ground,
for there was not a single spot
still empty to be found.

Instead the bodies piled there
upon each other deep
as each began to undertake
his last, eternal sleep.

The hillside now was drenched in blood,
could not hold any more,
and so into the stream it flowed,
all of that excess gore.

'Twas twenty thousand fell that day,
and yet two thousand more.
The stream ran red from all the dead
who fell there near the shore.

Major General George McClellan
led those arrayed in blue.
Had he not been so cautious,
the war would have been through.

For General Lee began to flee
and George just let him go,
his troops too tired to pursue
his almost conquered foe.

Who won the fight? Nobody won!
It seems that both sides lost.
Somebody's brother, someone's son- -
Oh, what an awful cost!

The battlefield is peaceful now,
so solemn and so still,
yet one can almost see somehow
those bodies on that hill.

Their voices cry up from the soil,
Yes, I can hear them plain.
Such wasted effort, wasted toil,
Why did we die in vain?

River Ran Red
Saturday, December 20, 2014
Topic(s) of this poem: war
POET'S NOTES ABOUT THE POEM
The Battle of Antietam, also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg, took place on September 17,1862 near Sharpsburg, Maryland and Antietam Creek. It was the first major battle of the American Civil War to take place on Union soil and also the bloodiest single-day battle in American history.
The official toll was 22,717 dead, wounded, and missing.
Confederate Major General Robert E. Lee was outnumbered two to one, but used his entire army, while McClellan sent in less than three fourths of his, enabling Lee to fight the Federals to a standstill.
At the end of the day McClellan was informed that Lee was trying to slip away into Virginia. McClellan chose not to follow him, claiming that his troops were too tired, but he had over a fourth of his troops that had seen no action at all!
The war should have ended on that very day. Instead it dragged on for years.
I have been to the battlefield a few times. It is a sobering place.

finished writing 20 December 2014
Recife, Pernambuco, Brasil
COMMENTS OF THE POEM
Grace Jessen 16 January 2015

One of your best poems! I just read The Lincoln Hypothesis by Timothy Ballard which offers new insight into the Civil War and why it dragged on. Perhaps those men did not die in vain. I also read about McClellan and his sympathies which was why Lincoln eventually fired him. He ran against Lincoln in the next election.

31 0 Reply
Kim Barney 09 March 2022

Thank you so much! I am finally beginning to think that this may indeed be one of my best poems. Thanks again.

2 0 Reply
Joyce Barnson 23 December 2014

You have captured that sobering feeling in your poetry. So much war through history and all of it seems so senseless. Thank you.

30 0 Reply
Grace Jessen 02 January 2015

Well done! Very touching.

29 0 Reply
Jan Moore 05 July 2015

Loved it. Wonderfully done.

29 0 Reply
LeeAnn Azzopardi 27 February 2022

a testment on the horrors of war no matter what time

2 0 Reply
Cowboy Ron Williams 26 February 2022

The situation between Ukraine and Russia made me want to come read this again. It is one of my favorites. Outstanding!

2 0 Reply
Cowboy Ron Williams 10 February 2021

A simply wonderful poem about the tragedy and senselessness of war. To my favorite poem list, and of course five stars.

6 0 Reply
Rose Marie Juan-austin 10 February 2021

A wonderful poem so beautifully conveyed. It expresses in brilliant detail what happened during the Civil War. Very informative and touching. To my Poem List.

7 0 Reply
Rose Marie Juan-austin 10 February 2021

A deeply poignant and gripping poem. Yes, in war nobody will ever win.

5 0 Reply
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Kim Barney

I was born in a bank - - my mother went there and made a deposit
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