The roar of battle is all around him. Brothers in grey slash at brothers in blue, and the screams of the dying echo in his ears.
The private has long worn the coat and borne the flag—but it is here, on the blood-soaked battlefield, where it finally ceases to matter which coat, which flag The ground upon which he lays cares not who wears blue and who wears grey; it eagerly swallows the blood of both. He is here, cast into the carnage born of hate and dissention, and laid low among comrades and foes alike.
It has not always been this way; no, the private's fading mind can still recall bright summers spent under the warm sun—oh! how he longs to feel its gentle caresses again. But only cool, unmerciful hate meets his searching fingers, and only the cruel ground dares touch him and his fellows. Together they lay, both blue and grey alike, spilling their lifeblood out in gruesome unity; the arm of a slain Johnny shields a motionless Yank in a solemn death-act of contrition.
The private's blue eyes, once bright with youthful joy, are dimming, and the blood in his golden curls is hateful and dark. But still he remembers that night long ago, when soft the promises sprang from his lips, and how her tender vows fell upon his happy ears. Ne'er to part…
Oh! how the tears had clung to her lashes when sorrowfully she'd bidden him farewell! He'd caught a few on his fingertip and brought damp them to the breast of his crisp jacket: to bring them safely back to the woman that wept them.
He now tightens his pale, weak hand over the soft lock of curls she'd shorn just for him, the wound of their parting laid open anew. A final prayer for her springs to his lips—"Ah! May Heaven defend her!" though his lifeblood has ebbed and sighed away.
A bright flash of summer, a warm breath of wind, and the private is released from his duties forever. Marked on his face, though now still and cold, is a gentle smile—the sure sign of peace, they know.
But his blue eyes are shut and his lips are so pale. The private's gone home, for certain. Gently do they fold his hands o'er his tear-stained breast, the soft lock of hair held close to his heart, and tender hands caress his smooth white brow. Oh! too fair is he to slumber alone; his face so assured of love! But alas. The private's sweet curls are shadowed with night, and his calm face is soon covered with the shroud of the dead.
Over the still, gentle white figure, carefully and solemnly do they move the dark soil, mindful to disturb neither a curl nor a lock. For this is someone's love, someone's life. And yet there is no one to mourn him. No one to weep. No one to guard his shadowy bed. Somewhere, someone watches the road. Someone weeps o'er his bed. Someone mourns every day lost without seeing the light in his eye. But she waits in vain.
For the private slumbers.