Sunday, April 30, 2017

Rebel Hill

Many Yankees came on that cold March night
Between thunder, rain, the late sleet and hail
Pickets taken! Courage fled at the sight
Hearts faltered, hands weakened, and men turned pale

So these wounded men with their wounded pride
Had in vain it seemed paid such a high price
No hope and no more would these Rebels ride
The noble cause, dead, it would not suffice

Almost released, a voice destroyed the plan
"That is the boss!" cried the newly freed man
The Captain now old, faces the hard truth
He's captured by those he fought for in youth

All that is left from history
Is the name his children bear
Where else he's been still a mystery
Buried in New Orleans somewhere

I began writing this poem in the spring of 2014, as the sequi-centennial of my Great-Great-Great-Great-Great Grandfather's death in a Union prisoner of war camp in New Orleans. He died there from "pneumonia", possibly a complication from injuries incurred during his capture. He was a Captain in the Militia of Rapides Parish. Specifically, he was training soldiers on how to use artillery when he was captured. As best as our family historians can tell, he was born in Canada, joined the US Army in Maine, saw some action during the Mexican American War where he received injuries, and an honorable discharge as a result. He was paid for his service in the US Army with a land grant in Rapides parish, near Alexandria, LA. When the civil war broke out, he would have been an older man, but his family was young. He was called into service by the Governor and given the duty of training Confederate troops and home guard in the use of artillery. When the Yankees captured him, a recently freed slave said that he was not an enlisted man, but rather was the captain of the local militia. He was then sent to the POW camp in New Orleans, where he died April 30, 1864. The location of his grave became part of Canal Street in New Orleans sometime in the early 20th century.

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