Cold Day with Sherman

A mumbled order comes filtering down the ranks, “Fix bayonets. Look lively.”

The contradiction stirs but does not embolden. Bayonets are for close fighting, gruesome face to face encounters. We have no choice really; the pans won’t fire in this soak. Practiced hands lock the blades into place, hands that not long ago pulled reins on plow mules, tied lures to string, and held hands with intimacy.

My friend two places over shivers casting a spray of droplets off his uniform and wilting hat. He gives a sheepish shrug, farmboy to the end, “Cold day in Hell, I s’pose.” We chuckle with gallow’s humor.

A determined thunder winds its way through the pelting waters, a persitent thrum. The noise is not heaven sent but coming up from the other direction, the drums of war echoing out of depths of Northern fury.

They will descend upon us, upon our Dixie. Breaths become deep, bracing inhalations for the punishment beyond the distant treeline. A sullen prayer for retreats comes silently from each man.

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