Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to
the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long
endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place
for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living
and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor
long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here
to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to
the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we may take increased devotion to that cause for which they
gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this
nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall
not perish from the earth.
For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it's still not yet two o'clock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out and Pickett himself with his long oiled ringlets and his hat in one hand probably and his sword in the other looking up the hill waiting for Longstreet to give the word and it's all in the balance, it happened yet, it hasn't even begun yet, it not only hasn't begun yet but there is still time for it not to begin against that position and those circumstances which made more men than Garnett and Kemper and Armistead and Wilcox look grave yet it's going to begin, we all know that, we have come too far with too much at stake and that moment doesn't even need a fourteen-year-old boy to think THIS TIME. MAYBE THIS TIME with all this much to lose and all this much to gain: Pennsylvania, Maryland, the world, the golden dome of Washington itself to crown with desperate and unbelievable victory....
by Will Henry Thompson.
Submitted by Terry Moyer
A cloud possessed the hollow field,
The gathering battle's smoky shield;
Athwart the gloom the lightning flashed,
And through the cloud some horsemen dashed,
And from the heights the thunder pealed.
Then at the brief command of Lee,
Moved out that matchless infantry,
With Picket (sic) leading grandly down,
To rush against the roaring crown
Of those dread heights of destiny.
Far heard above the angry guns,
A cry across the tumult runs:
The voice that rang through Shiloh's woods,
And Chickamauga's solitudes:
The fierce South cheering on her sons!
Ah, how the withering tempest blew
Against the front of Pettigrew!
A Khamsin wind that scorched and singed,
Like that infernal flame that fringed
The British squares at Waterloo!
A thousand fell where Kemper led;
A thousand died where Garnett bled;
In blinding flame and strangling smoke,
The remnant through the batteries broke,
And crossed the works with Armistead.
"Once more in Glory's van with me!"
Virginia cried to Tennessee:
"We two together, come what may
Shall stand upon those works today!"
The reddest day in history.
Brave Tennessee! In reckless way
Virginia heard her comrade say:
"Close round this rent and riddled rag!"
What time she set her battle flag
Amid the guns of Doubleday.
But who shall break the guards that wait
Before the awful face of Fate?
The tattered standards of the South
Were shriveled at the cannon's mouth,
And all her hopes were desolate.
In vain the Tennesseean set
His breast against the bayonet;
In vain Virginia charged and raged,
A tigress in her wrath uncaged,
Till all the hill was red and wet!
Above the bayonets, mixed and crossed,
Men saw a gray, gigantic ghost
Receding through the battle cloud,
And heard across the tempest loud
The death cry of a nation lost!
The brave went down! Without disgrace
They leaped to Ruin's red embrace;
They only heard Fame's thunders wake,
And saw the dazzling sunburst break
In smiles on Glory's bloody face!
They fell, who lifted up a hand
And bade the sun in heaven to stand;
They smote and fell, who set the bars
Against the progress of the stars,
And stayed the march of Motherland!
They stood, who saw the future come
On through the fight's delirium;
They smote and stood, who held the hope
Of nations on that slippery slope,
Amid the cheers of Christendom!
God lives! He forged the iron will
That clutched and held that trembling hill!
God lives and reigns! He built and lent
The heights for Freedom's battlement,
Where floats her flag in triumph still!
Fold up the banners! Smelt the guns!
Love rules. Her gentler purpose runs.
A Mighty mother turns in tears
The pages of her battle years,
Lamenting all her fallen sons!