John F. McCullagh

(09/28/1954 / Flushing)

A Dark Day without Rain


The General stood looking in the mirror
Perfectly attired, Cap a Pied.
He turned to me and said
'We must not delay this, Mister Marshall.
This bitter cup that fate has handed me'
I handed him his sword in silence.
We'd be fighting in the hills
Were it up to me,
but even I knew that our men
were starving, Surrounded,
there could be no victory.

Traveler was mounted in an instant
Few looked finer on a horse than
Our Robert Lee.
Under flag of truce we rode
to the McLean House,
there to await the modern Ulysses.

Grant rode up dressed in a Sergent's uniform,
mud splattered,
His shoulder straps the only hint
of rank.
He looked more like the man
who had been beaten
Than General Lee who had to play that part.
He took Lee's white gloved hand, offered in greeting
both men's faces etched with suffering, I saw.
They reminisced about their other meeting,
when both served Scott in the Mexican War.
Then General Lee asked Grant
to state terms of surrender.
They sat down and, in short order,
ended the unpleasantness of war.

The Victor was generous to the Vanquished:
No Rebel would be tried, or lose their home.
The men permitted to retain their side arms
Rations fed to men of skin and bone.
We'd Stack the drums and cannon in the field
Give our parole despite our internal pain
There were troops still in the field but it was over
April Ninth, a dark day without rain.

Submitted: Saturday, November 12, 2011

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