I’d be remiss if I failed to turn both mind and heart to the hell and glory that was Gettysburg.
Before the Civil War, Gettysburg was best known for its orchards of delicious fruit. One Gettysburg peach orchard at the intersection of Wheatfield Road and Emmitsburg Road became the scene for a confrontation between Longsteet’s Confederate troops and Sickles’ Union troops. It was the scene of intense fighting on July 2, 1863 from approximately 4pm to 6:30pm when Longstreet ordered the Confederate infantry assault (http://www.visit-gettysburg.com/gettysburg-peach-orchard.html).
I wrote the poem posted here for a anthology titled New Jersey’s Civil War Odyssey. If you’re interested follow this link for further information – http://njcivilwar.com/.
The Peach Orchard
Longstreet charges Sickles’ Line
Gettysburg: July 2, 1863
Before the Johnnies arrived, I found myself trying
to fill my nose with the sweet smell of peaches –
close as we were to an orchard.
Dozens of them hung from the trees
like little green bells. Guess they needed
more time to grow. Newark doesn’t smell
like sugar, all brick and factory,
so I dreamt those peaches were ripe and bleeding
sugar all over me, but then Rebs barreled
through that orchard, snapped me
from my thoughts like a baby from a nap.
Battle haze started choking air and lung.
Lead hummed by my head like pestered flies –
Now, the Rebs didn’t want peaches.
They were after the artillery I was charged
with firing.One Reb got so close that I heard
him yell Give us dem guns. So I screamed back
Come and get’em, but in my mind
I was defending peaches. We would
have done a better job too, but men were tripping
on shot up horses. One horse was squawking
like an old maid scolding us all
for not playing nice, but it shut its snout
and died soon enough. We fought a while,
and the Rebs never got my guns,
but I bet those bastards battered up
that orchard just to rile my spirit.
A man wants what he wants,
and, by God, I wanted them peaches.
- Commemorating the Battle of Gettysburg, with a twist. (uloop.com)
- The Annual Gettysburg Civil War Battle Reenactment (civilwar150photos.org)