A Tear for Every Body

Disclaimer: Yes, I actually own this one. Surprised? I am too.

Hiyeee!! Jordiscy here. This is a narrative essay I wrote for my AP US History class, and I'm quite proud of it. It is a first-person account of a common soldier fighting in the Battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War. And did you know that the only reason why the Confederates lost this battle was because of a simple wooden fence?!? ::sweatdrop:: I found this out after writing this, and it's kinda creepy of how I worked that fact into this story while not knowing it. ::shudders:: Anyways, my history teacher didn't want to give it up. I know, it's not my usual Zelda fan fic, but I really like this and I want others to see it too. Hope you like it and get a history lesson at the same time! Ooh, wouldn't Mr. Brady like that . . .

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A tear for Mark, a tear for the Colonel, and a tear for me. A tear for the young man that picked up my hat for me the other day, and a tear for his older brother, of whom he adored so much. I shed a tear for the soldier that offered me his roll when I tripped and lost my supper to the ground, and a tear for my best friend, Paul.

How many tears did I shed today? I don't know. I lost count a while ago. But one thing is for sure: I cried a lot of tears. One tears for every body that lays out there at this moment. A tear for every soldier that laid down his life for our glorious state. A tear for every man that cannot see the light of day . . .

As I lay here on this stretcher, I stare at the open sky above. It's about high noon now, July fourth, and the sun is glowing at its full radiance in my eyes. My makeshift pillow of a once dry coat is now damp, almost soaked, and smells of my bodily salt. I can't turn my head to see what is going on around me, but the constant sounds of moaning and screams of hurting, full- grown men, accompanied by the putrid smell of a mix between canon smoke, whiskey, blood, and scorched flesh do not give me a pleasant image. My eyes are welling up again, so I'll just close them for now. Yeah, I'll just close them for now. I just need to rid my thoughts of the pain in my leg.

Why? Why a tear for every body? Heh, that's something *else* I don't know. I found out in the last few days that there is *a lot* I don't know. Wait. It's the last few days that made me cry those tears. Well, mostly yesterday.

But yesterday was suppose to be a *glorious* day. Yesterday, we were to charge the Union line and break through it. We were to win the war yesterday. What happened to change all that? What went wrong? I remember being so enthused that morning. We were finally going into the Union to take over *their* land. We were hoping to take over some major city like Boston or New York, but somehow we ended up fighting here at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. But I could hardly sit down. Paul leaned over me while waiting for the charge order and whispered, "This is the day we end this god-awful war." I had to bite my tongue in order not to shout out loud. I eagerly struggled to gaze upon the artillerymen and watch them shoot canon balls a distance away. Those Union bastards were getting it now. This is what they get for being babies and not let us be our own country. My feet constantly fell asleep due to the fact that I was so anxious and always contorted my sitting position to try and get a better view. Some of these positions must have looked really funny, because Paul kept looking at me like a baffled two-year-old.

Time refused to pass. It seemed to be an eternity before we got the order from Picket to assemble and charge the enemy front. The drums played their cadenza, ordering us to get up and form our lines behind the commanding officers. I jumped to my feet and nearly tripped over Paul. Before I could hit the ground, he grabbed my arm and helped me gain my balance again. "I don't think that you want to land on your bayonet at this moment, Jonah," he told me in his soft, quiet voice. "At this point, that would be very bad."

It took forever for everyone to form their lines. Maybe because there were so many soldiers and lines to form. Oh well. General Armistice stood before us and spoke with a loud and booming voice. I couldn't hear the first of his words because some teenager beside me was rambling on about how he was going to die today. I jabbed him in the ribs with my elbow, and he got the hint to shut up. " . . . for your sweethearts, for wives, and most of all, for *Virginia!*" Armistice continued.

I could hold my excitement no longer. I raised my rifle and yelled to the top of my lungs. I wanted to start dancing, but I have a *little* more self- control than that. I was surprised to see Paul was doing the same as me. He waved his rifle in the air, and gunpowder was showering us all. I did not expect any kind of outburst that I would give to come out of the quiet, meek Paul. He quickly realized that his powder was loose, blushed, and almost immediately stopped his cheering. The problem was quickly resolved, and just in time for me to see the General raise his sword and march onward.

One foot in front of the other. This went on forever, it seemed like. This whole morning seemed to be dragging on very slowly. We had a whole mile in front of us. We had to walk one really long mile before we could reach the enemy front. Until then, we had to dodge canon fire. I felt the adrenaline pumping through my veins, and I was ready to run the whole way, but we were told to conserve our energy for when the real fighting comes. My gaze was intently fixed upon the ground in front of me, concentrating and eagerly awaiting for the moment where I could kick some Union butt. I was so infatuated with this thought that I flinched when I felt a pat on my back. I turned my head and noticed that we were passing the artillerymen, and they were giving us their share of encouragement. They cheered, jumped up and down, and waved their hats to us as we advanced toward the soldiers in blue. But they had no clue to what we were heading into at that moment.

I could see puffs of smoke from the canon now three-quarters of a mile away. The fire would head straight for us, missing half the time, hitting my companions in the other half. Twice, a canon ball made a direct hit so that the men to my left fell to the grassy ground. That nervous teenager was left behind. We who were still standing just filled into the gaps and kept marching. There was no stopping us.

The field never seemed to end. We kept marching and marching. I was relieved of this monotonous pattern when we reached the wooden fence that marked the halfway point to our destination. Instead of marching, I could climb for two seconds! But as I swung my le over the other side, a canon ball exploded nine yards to my right. Soldiers flew everywhere. One rifle hit the ground and went off. The bullet whizzed through the air, and I dodged my head to keep clear of its path. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Paul fall to the ground, his head hitting a fence post with a sickening thump. The color rushed out of his face, and then I noticed that color wasn't the only thing leaving him. His life-sustaining fluid oozed out of his temple, and his muscles relaxed. His eyes stared blankly at me, life not evident in him. That stray bullet managed to lodge itself into Paul's head.

That was the moment when I realized the horrible reality of death. I shouted in anguish and fell to my knees beside my dear friend. I cradled his bleeding head into my arms, and that is when the tears started. This was the only man on the face of the earth that tolerated my bits of immaturity and forgave me for them. This was the man that stood by me in my hardest times of life. This was the man that prevented me from dying myself by falling on a bayonet. But now, he was gone, never to stand by me again.

I wept like a child, but I didn't care. Other soldiers kicked me and told me to be a man and leave him behind. But I couldn't. Paul would have never left me behind. My division went on without me, and I stayed by the wooden fence, softly rocking my best of friends back and forth as if he were a child being lulled to sleep. I lost my enthusiasm and will to press on. I simply did not want to leave his side, but my thoughts changed when I thought of who was responsible for his death. If it weren't for that canon ball, then that rifle would have never gone off, and Paul would still be alive. My cheeks burned with fury as the anger built up inside of me. I honorable closed Paul's eyes and gently laid his head onto the soft grass. I finally looked away from his corpse and gathered myself together again. I had a new reason to fight, and this time it wasn't just a lust for action.

I sprinted back to my division and elbowed my way back into the line. The soldier beside me was chanting "For Virginia" in time to his marching. I had something a tad different running through my head. *For Paul . . . For Paul . . .* my teeth gritted in hatred, and my knuckles were turning white, for my hands were clutching my rifle with a grip of death. I was willing to face the whole Union army myself to avenge Paul's death.

General Armistice was still leading, his sword lifted proudly. More and more men fell at my feet, but I did not notice this. More and more bodies littered the ground. The smell of smoke was getting more intense with every step, and the haze hindered my sight. Some were coughing due to the lack of oxygen. I did not notice this either, for my mind was already preset. My only goal was to reach the enemy lines so I could reap revenge on those who killed my friend.

The canons still boomed around me, but they were no longer the only projectiles aimed for me. Rifle bullets, like the one that killed Paul, were now rushing through the air to pierce us into nonexistence. This was not enough to stop me from turning savage and charge at the Union soldiers like a madman.

But I didn't get a chance to do anything when a sharp pain found its way to my leg. I heard the bone in my shin shatter, and I collapsed to the ground face first. The tears came again as the grass pressed against my tongue. Time lost its essence then. I eventually blacked out with more bodies piling in around me, all wounded, dead, or dying.

I woke up face toward heaven, and my leg was screaming in pain. More tears flowed from my eyes, and I reflected on why I joined the war anyways. I was bored with my current life and wanted to be in some action. I wanted to be a war hero. I wanted to be remembered as a legend to the state of Virginia. Now what am I? A prisoner of war. An injured Confederate fighter in the custody of the Union Army. And what happened to our glorious victory? It was bitter defeat. How stupid can I be? War is more serious than anyone can ever believe. People *die* in war, people who don't deserve to die. Know what? This is probably the worst war in al history. We have the guns for fighting, but we still fight how Napoleon did many years ago. Know what else? We injured don't have much of a choice to what to do.

Uh oh. Here comes the surgeon. "Bite on this, will ya?" he asks me. He places a bullet in my mouth, and I play with it some with my tongue to get a better grip on it. The metallic taste is the last thing I remember before my leg is separated from my body.

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I'm done! Sorry about the dryness toward the end. The prompt required me to include several things, like the revolution of weaponry, but the use of traditional Napoleonic strategy on the battlefield conflicts with things, and blah blah blah . . . The prompt also required details that appeal to all five senses. Do you think I pulled that off well? I want your input (that means to submit a review). Also, tell me if I got anything historically wrong, and I will shame myself publicly for it, after making corrections, of course.

I'll say it again: SUBMIT A REVIEW!