A short little story I wrote one day based off a few RPs I write with my friends, and historical fact.

Never Prepared

His hand held an iron grip on the cane, knuckles almost white from the strength at which he held on. But in the blue eyes there was a fire that burned with instansity from the sights they took in. It was something he had never imagined seeing.

Zelon Hayes had been a soldier once, way back when during the War of 1812, before a bullet to the leg crippled him just enough to get him out of the army. Yet he had still seen raw fear in his mens' eyes, and had watched men die all around him. It wasn't as if Hayes had never seen blood, but it was the inner heard of the situation that tore at him soul.

Only a few years ago, Gettysburg had been just one other town in a large country. But never again would it be looked at in the same way again. For war had changed that, along with everything else that came with it.

Limping from the shade of the trees, Hayes didn't loosen his grip on the cane. It was as if the disappointment could be taken out on the wood. The sun touched his white hair and lit up the lined face, old with age.

"Why?" Hayes' voice was soft, a pain note ringing out with it. He knew that the attack the Confederates had made, never could have succeeded. That pained him, that so many innocent men had fallen in a war that never should have existed.

Some of the men Hayes' had taught at the Point while he'd been a teacher there had stepped out onto that field. Closing his eyes then, Hayes could see Winfield Hancock, George Pickett and Lewis Armistead as if it were yesterday that they'd been dragged to his office so many times. It had been for plates, fireworks and so much more he couldn't even remember it all, just the look upon Brown's face.

But he did remember the newspaper clipping and Hayes slipped a hand into his pockett to touch the thin paper. Armistead was dead, had died leading a worthless charge agasint Hancock, his closet friend. Slowly, Hayes shook his head. What had the world come to?

Friends should not have been torn by the seams of compassion. Families should not have had to bown their heads next to the empty spot at the tables. Comrades never should have had to bury a close friend or brother, maybe someone who had just been trying to kill them.

Even though walking was hard for him, Hayes limped across the field, stopping when he saw a fallen soldier to gently close the eyelids over the sightless eyes. Their blood had all run dry in the dirt, it was the least that he could do.

Before he knew it, Hayes reached the stone wall, and made his way over it, turning his head to look back across the ground he'd just taken. It was some sight, as he could see all the way back to the trees of Seminary Ridge. He wondered at how the Confederates had even gotten to the wall with the clear view he had of the ground all around him. It was clear to see the value of holding it.

Briefly he wondered if Hancock had seen his friend coming at him, or if their eyes had never met. The thought made his heart skip a beat, as he could only imagine the horror that each must have felt. The earge coame then for him to want to find the Union general, as he didn't know how much he would have heard of his friend's fate.

Raising his blue eyes to the sky, Hayes put his hand in his pocket again, reaching around to touch another object. Pulling it out, he let it reast flat on his palm and lowered his eyes to look at it. He'd found it near the old shed, a remain of a firework that had landed inside of it. And he was almost sure it was the firework Armistead had used his first day at the Point.

Gently closing his first around it, Hayes blinked a tear from his eyes. The man hadn't deserved such a fate, and yet all any of them could do was remember. Kneeling down, Hayes pressed the firework into the space it was rumored the general had fallen, running a hand over the spot with one finger. "I'm sorry General Armistead," he said softly, "I never prepared you for this. Let us always remember you for all you have done, not as a troublemaker, but as a true leader. Hell, we need more people like you... Lo."