Oblique! - Poem by Robert R. Railey

(The day the gray line Wavered)

It was hot again, for the third straight day, but it was the 3rd of July; the time the place was Gettysburg and the year was sixty-three
The fence is still up at Emmitsburg Road, cried one Southern boy, it should have come down in the dark, then we'll go over, or we will go through it, said the man with the stars
Pickett's Division would lead the charge on a battlefield three miles wide, but straight ahead it was only three-quarters and that was up a hill
Though while at the fence they were suddenly met with a tremendous fusillade of a one hundred strong cannonade where many men still lie
The sounds were sickening, the thwacks and thuds, caused by the plop of the double canister, then soon to be followed by the shrieks of men and the puffs of smoke from the hill, known only as Cemetery Ridge
Forwards now, you men of the 1st, to the base of yonder swell, then oblique to the left, the general from the rear was heard to yell
Now forwards on you men of the 2nd, and then oblique to the right; to the front now march, General Armistead, with your 9th and final Brigade, then parade rest in the center for you shall be our watershed
Now forwards all, your companies abreast, across yon meadow and to your death, said the general in the rear
When the men in gray topped that very last rise, and they were once more in the open, the men in blue atop the hill were heard to say as one, just look at them aren't they magnificent, they look like they are on parade, but then the cannons roared
Hundreds more then lay dead and they were only halfway to their goal which was the highest summit where many more would fall

Onwards and upwards, you men of Virginia, for the glory of the Old Dominion
Double-quick now boys, was the order, and the shirkers will surely be shot
Follow Armistead, the general said, for he's the one with the hat on his sword

I see their beards and the fear in their eyes, said the general from the rear, but on that day there was fear aplenty for every man who was anywhere near

The battle raged, but a few more hours, with the capture of a Northern Battery, but then was lost again, yet Pickett's Charge would forever be known as the High-Water Mark of the Southern Confederacy

Then upon retreat, Pickett reported to his most beloved and revered
Commander, General Robert E. Lee
Where's your division general?
Lee was said to have timidly asked
I have no division general, was all that Pickett could say
Then with his head bowed low, and with tears in his eyes,
It's all my fault, said Lee

Poems by Robert R. Railey

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