Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

I stood at Little Round Top in footsteps

Where the heroes of history had stood

In the quiet of a November morn,

Up amongst Little Round Tops greening wood

 

When Union seemed set, ready for defeat

Where Chamberlain braced his men, stout and still,

Met line upon line, ragged soldiers blue,

On the northern face of the stony hill.

 

Stood like madmen, giving fire, taking fire

In a single line, the 20th Maine looked down

On the 15th Alabama, and Oates sure,

Came his line of blue and grey and brown.

 

There on the Pennsylvania ledge they met.

Talladega boys, one for each that fell,

Presque Isle, the 20th Maine shouldered all the storm,

Each 650 miles to the gates of hell.

 

Chamberlain’s own desperation arrived

As he moved along the diminished line,

His mind racing, heart beating, eyes searching

Would this place be the Union’s last shrine?

 

With heightened breathing and steely resolve

“Fix bayonets!” he called. “And all stand large

Remember we are boys of the 20th Maine”

A moment of silence, then the call “charge!”.

 

The left wing at angle “right wheel and charge!”

Down, around the hill toward the rebels,

One, a line straight and one like a hinged gate

Swinging, crashing like the sea on pebbles.

 

Men not yet dead turned and ran t’ward Texas

And Union forces, pushed and ran and yelled,

Sweeping back down the hill like autumn leaves

The rebels, escaped, relinquished or felled.

 

I stood at Little Round Top in footsteps

Where the heroes of history had stood

In the quiet of a November morn,

Up amongst Little Round Tops greening wood

 

Where the two great armies had now converged,

Where the edge of the fight had swayed, a wave

 

Of blood had stood in puddles, smoke on the

July wind was hanging over the brave.

 

Small squirrels dance about me on the ground

Then hurry back to a nearby fallen tree,

And Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain’s ghost

Stands tall, vigilant looking out to see.

 

I stood at Little Round Top in footsteps

Where the heroes of history had stood

In the quiet of a November morn,

Up amongst Little Round Tops greening wood.

 

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Grant Fenton – All Rights Reserved

 

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