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Two soldiers lay dying near Lickor Creek Bridge in Greene County, Tenn., during the Civil War February 3rd, 1863. One wore the Gray of dear old South and one wore the Northern Blue, but posterity hath honored both alike - a common grave somewhere East of Bays Mountain in Greene County, East Tennessee. Excerpt from a letter written by Joseph A. Bare, 8th Regiment, Tennessee Infantry, November 9th, 1863.

A waste of land, a sodden plain,

A lurid sunset sky.

With clouds that fled, and faded fast

In ghostly fantasy. A field

Upturned by trampling feet:

A field up-piled with slain

With rose and rider blent in death

Upon the battle plain

The dying, and the dead lie low,

For them, no more shall rise

The evening moon,nor midnight star

Nor daylight's soft surprise.

They will not wake to tenderest call,

Nor see again each home,

Where waiting hearts shall throb and break,

When this day's tidings come.

Two soldiers lying as they fell

Upon the reddened clay.

The day-time foes, at night in peace

Breathing each other's lives away.

Brave hearts had stirred each manly breast,

And fate only made them foes.

But lying, dying , side by side.

A softer feeling rose.

Our time is short, one faint voice said,

Today we have done our best,

On different sides what matters now -

Tomorrow, we shall rest;

Life lies behind.

I might not care for my own sake.

But far away are other hearts,

That this day's work will break.

Among New Hampshire's snowy hills,

There prays for me tonight,

A woman, and a little girl

With hair like golden light.

As the thought broke forth at last,

That would no longer be repressed,

"Oh God, my wife, my child."

And said the other dying man,

Across the Georgia plains,

There watches and waits for me,

A loved one that I shall never see again,

A little girl with dark, bright eyes,

Each day waits at the door,

Her father's step, her father's kiss,

Will never greet her more.

Today we have sought each other's lives,

But death levels all that now.

And soon before God's mercy seat,

Together we shall bow.

Let us forgive each other, while we may,

Life is but a weary game, right or wrong.

The morning sun will find us dead - the same.

The dying lips, the parting breath,

The dying hands entwine.

The last rays fade, and over all

The stars from heaven shine.

And the little girl on Hampshire's hills,

And the girl on Georgia's plain,

Were fatherless that night.

Dedicated to Joseph A. Bare, Mooresburg, Tennessee. Joseph A. Bear enlisted at age 29 on the 6th of January 1863 in Hawkins County, TN for 3 years in the 8th Tennessee Vol Infantry Regiment. He was left sick on the retreat from Dandridge, TN, 18th January 1864, and was captured by the enemy. He was admitted to hospital 13 February 1864, and at age 30, died while a prisoner on the 15th February 1864 at Richmond, Virginia. This poem was probably written in October 1863 when Bare was in Greene County.

To Hugh H. Hackney

Gentle spirit thou hast sped

Thy lone flight to worlds afar.

Where thy wearied, aching head

Feels no more the ills of war.

Rest thee rest thee dearest friend

Sleep thee sleep that knows no end

Wand'rer ore the sea of Time

Oft in sadness thou didst roam,

In a joy bespangled time

Enter and behold thy home,

Tossed with trouble worn with strife

Wear thee now the Crown of Life

When we saw thee full of bloom,

Towards thy homestead went thy way

Little thought we that the tomb

Was then watching for its pray

Now the softly pealing bell

Tolls for thee its last sad knell

In thy lone and cheerless tomb

Sleeps they form so loved so dear,

But we trust beyond its gloom

Heavens sweet music greets thine ear,

Yes in that bright world so fair

Snuff thee now immortal air

Lt. John L. Wilson, Co. D. 63 Tenn, Cumberland Gap

This poem was found in the diary of William Alexander Brown, Hawkins County, TN, D Company, 63rd TN Infantry-CSA. After fighting at Drewry's Bluff on May 16, 1864, Brown wrote, "My brother Amos was wounded on this day just abov(e) the knee which was very slight. Lt. Wilson lost his foot." Wilson and Hackney were also in D Company.

Copyright ©:1999. Sheila Johnston, all rights reserved.

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Copyright © 1999/2000 by Sheila Weems Johnston, Rogersville, TN