The Forlorn Hope—Vicksburg 1863

Back in Vicksburg, the town was surrounded
With a battle line twelve miles long.
U.S. Grant sought to conquer the city,
But the rebel defenses were strong.
An advance storming party was risky;
They could possibly lose every man.
But they must cross a ditch and climb over a wall
Just to capture the Stockade Redan.

With extreme disregard for the danger,
While exposed to a torrent of lead,
The men carried their logs and their ladders
And soon painted the path with their dead.
The one hundred and fifty brave soldiers,
All unmarried and all volunteers,
Had advanced at a run while opposing cannon
Brought fresh screams to their still-ringing ears.

So from ten in the morning ’til darkness,
They would fight the good fight ’til they fell.
A majority there didn’t make it;
The remainder survived living Hell.
The survivors were honored as heroes—
Received medals almost to a man—
For extreme gallantry in the storming party
At the fight for the Stockade Redan.



This Sycamore, a Witness Tree

a rondeau

This sycamore, a witness tree,
Stood tall in 1863
As Lincoln passed by to address
The military’s late success
Against the forces brought by Lee.

It witnessed every enlistee
Succumbing to a battery
Of cannon they could not suppress,
This sycamore.

No pensioner or retiree
Observed such long past history.
But though it lives, it can’t profess
Such knowledge we’d have it possess.
Oh, what we’d learn, if we could be
This sycamore!



Randal A. Burd, Jr. is an educator, freelance editor, writer, and poet. His freelance writing includes assignments on the paid writing team for and multiple online blogs, newsletters, and publications. Randal received his Master’s Degree in English Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Missouri. He currently works on the site of a residential treatment facility for juveniles in rural Missouri. He lives in southeast Missouri with his wife and two children.

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