To Wage A War

Posted on August 26, 2011

To Wage A War
(The siege of Good Hope as told by the drummer, Ezekiel Mann; the last survivor of the Good Hope Volunteers)

The distant morning rehearsed its arrival
With the glare off the fire that shown in the distance.
Sherman’s boys were razing the God-given earth
And routing the Grays of Atlanta’s resistance.
The men of Good Hope took up arms in defense,
Drawing lines; digging in for the slaughter ahead.
Union Blues descending like vultures to feed
On the helpless and maimed, on the weak and the dead.
Smoke filled night,
A changing wind,
Shapes the lives
Of desperate men.

Their cannons from Atlanta arrived in the night.
Standing in omnipotent granduer, they bellowed
In carnivorous ecstasy with the shrieks
Of the smitten and the wounded. How the blood flowed!
My bleeding and beating hands played the march
That led the seditious rabble to their defeat.
My ears, cursed and abhorred, stung with the dying screams
Calling for mothers, the Father and Paraclete.
Cannon flight,
That wicked wind,
Shakes the lives
Of desperate men.

Desolation arose in the light of day.
The scene to be seen was painted in carnage red.
Johnny lay in the ditches and strewn about.
The town, cut down to rubble, the batteries bled.
The smoke convened in a frivolous descent
Over the battlefield and its wages of war.
Casualties became conundrums; the who’s whom,
And the Yankees marched onward, to the sea, for more.
Cannon flight,
That hungry wind,
Takes the lives
Of desperate men.


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3 responses to “To Wage A War”

  1. I googled extensively, but I couldn’t seem to find anything for
    Ezekiel Mann
    Good Hope Volunteers
    Good Hope battle
    drummer Ezekiel Mann
    etc, etc.

    The way people see war fascinates me. War is essentially one of the most primitive instincts of Man, promoted by mass participation into an orgy of savagery and brutality. Romanticized by half-wits safely at home, who made damn sure they weren’t in the middle of all that glorious carnage.
    It’s interesting how you deal with it. Sometimes "understatement" is much more effective than hyperbolic exaggeration.

    I like:

    "Cannon flight,
    That hungry wind,
    Takes the lives
    Of desperate men."

    Right now, there is much tear jerking at the faithful dog, who won’t leave his dead master’s coffin. One of the Navy Seals, dead in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.  It is sad.
    But, coldly, do these deaths of fine, idealistic, spirited young men serve a purpose? Even asking that question may provoke howls of indignation.
    None of it sits well with me. I’m very interested in how writers on WH see war, and the eternal conflict, the marching music, the glorious war movies, the "tough guy" mantra, and the whole Military-Industrial complex.  Yes, profitable, isn’t it?   
    Thanks for tackling a loaded subject.  

  2. lol  Sorry about that.  Should have put a disclaimer on this piece. Ezekiel Mann is a fictional character that I created to tell the story and give it more depth as if an old man was passing it down to me.  Good Hope is a small town in Georgia that sits somewhere along the path of Sherman’s march to the sea, however I do not know if it was in existance during the Civil War or not.  I used it as the setting because of the name in conjunction with what is going on in the piece.  "Good Hope" for it is all they truly had.  I also liked it because I use the Cape of Good Hope in another piece (Vanderdecken) which I have not posted yet and liked the comparison of the names.
    As for the dog by the coffin, it bothers me that most people see that picture and the first thing they think is "Oh how sad the dog misses his master" but when I look at it the first thing I think is "Oh how sad that another life is lost because of hatred and intolerance".  The dog seems to get this.  Why haven’t we as a whole species.  If more of us had that first reaction then there truly would be less wars and violence.  We have more compassion for a dog grieving in general then we do for our fellow brethren overall.  That saddens me.

  3. Amen.
    My sentiments exactly.

    I work with a lot of Vietnam helicopter vets.  They are proud of their service, and rightly so. Their motives were patriotic and good. But so many, privately, when it really comes down to it, now, all these years later, shake their heads, sadly. Purposeless. What a waste. I wrote up one untold Vietnam story I was told.
    It’s called "Chance Encounters".  The last two words of that story are the most important of the whole (true) story. I wrote it up for a helicopter pilot friend of mine.
    He was there…  When he read it, although it was just the way he told me, there were tears in his eyes. He remembered, all too well, friends left behind, to die, alone, in a foreign jungle, without any marching music.

    My novel "Jeremy’s War" is an anti-war novel.

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