HARPER’S FERRY SEPTEMBER 15, 1862

 

 

 

 

 

“He who does not see the hand of God in this is blind, Sir, blind”

 Stonewall Jackson

 

…..The following poem attempts to capture a moment in time.  It focuses on General Thomas Jackson, the famous Stonewall.  Having repulsed the Union forces before the battlements of Richmond, the Confederate army boldly invaded the North.  In the course of that campaign, Jackson had scored a stunning victory at the battle of the Second Manassas.  Now he proceeded with his division to capture the large Union armory and garrison at Harper’s Ferry.  He sat atop his modest mount, Little Sorrel, and surveyed the scene from the hilltop of Bolivar’s Heights.  He could see his troops taking control of the fortifications in the river valley below.  Looking to the adjoining heights he could see General McLaws protecting his rear from Union reinforcements.

…..General Jackson was a very devout man who saw the will of God in every event.  He was noted for raising his hand in praise and thankfulness during battle and it was said that his pale blue eyes would glow with a furious light.

….. As the Federal fortifications were overwhelmed, Confederate momentum ran high and the flush of victory was in the air.  Then urgent word came that he must hurry to rejoin General Lee’s hard pressed army at the Battle of Antietam.  After a forced march he did arrive in time to help stabilize the situation but the Army of Virginia was forced to retreat to its Southern base.  It had been badly mauled and severely depleted.

    Jackson would go on to his fabled victory over Hooker at the Battle of Chancellorsville.  But in the course of a nighttime reconnaissance, he was wounded by his own troops and died several days later.  His death was mourned throughout the South.

….. The sense of the prophet is sorely tested by war.  Both sides pray fervently for victory.  In time, destiny reveals its verdict and we are then left to ponder its significance.  This is a story much older than Troy and Jericho.  A story with a moral that still remains a mystery.

 

 

HARPER’S FERRY SEPTEMBER 15, 1862

 

Stonewall looks out across Bolivar Heights

Beyond the yielding Union Army

To see McLaws still standing tight

Still closing the hot gates against the Furies

Manassas just behind them

Antietam out of sight.

 

He sits gaunt and rumpled

Upon his Little Sorrel

His hand raised most reverently

And from the fire of his soul

Hope and exaltation

Flash out from his eyes in a furious blue light

How can he know

The coming race might lead to glory 

But not to victory?

 

Mysterious are the ways of the Lord

And so it must always be

For bearing our imperfect eyes

We are often blind to destiny

That soon before us lies.

 

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