We wait, watching. It would be a lie to say that our view was omnipotent and we knew all that was commencing below us. The smoke was too thick and too opaque. Our sight betrayed us. Only the terrifying sounds of the never-ending cannon fire and the shaking of the earth could give us the answers that we sought, silently.
My eyes gaze to my general, sitting tall and regally on his steed. He looks out, his brown eyes stoic and unmoving. The gray of his uniform is slightly faded from the years of travel and battle. His silver beard is less trimmed and proper. His attention is not that of his looks, but on the hearts and mind of his men.
The ground shook with the cannon fire, as they give their last all. All one hundred and twenty cannons fired all out once, raining those behind Union lines in glass and lead. They attempt to fire back. I barely see through my spy glass. They fall to cover themselves over the deadly rain.
The smoke begins to clear. Drums are sounding. Cheers are appearing, shouting, "Virginia! Virginia! Virginia!" Figures emerge through the blanketed mist, moving slowly… deadly… peacefully…
My heart is racing. It is beautiful, but terrible. My comrades… my friends… my brothers…. They march forward. They know the risk. They know what lies ahead of them… and they would do it twenty times over for their country… my country. Their shouts and cries rise upwards, as if calling to heaven for a blessing on this battle.
The Union has begun to fire. I can see some of our men fall, through the mists of smoke. A flag-bearer falls, but is relieved by a willing friend, who carries our nation's flag towards its goal. More fall, but the lines still hold.
Some reach the fence. My vision is starting to cloud. Our men are struggling. The cannon fire is too much. There is confusion. It seems that some have made it over the fence, but we cannot see many. The Union is now standing and firing. My general asks for a spy glass. I hand it to him, willingly.
Several brigades move faster, attempting to reach the fence. They reach it, but then the mist is covering them… burying them… blinding them…. I can see several of our men limping back, some even helping their wounded neighbors along the way. A horse returns with no rider.
My eyes catch many of our men charging towards the stone wall. The Union is pouring their heated lead into them, but our men are defiant. They run forward, giving the Rebel yell, as it is now known. Their shouts and cries are lifting to us now, seeming to answer our calls for report.
The mist is clouding my vision. I cannot see what is happening to them. They are over the stone wall, they must be! I can hear their shouts… their cheers… their cries…
I can only hear the shots… the clattering of swords and bayonets… the screams of the dying…. My eyes are watering. Some are running or limping towards us. Another rider-less horse gallops towards its own line… and then another.
The mist is clearing, slowly. I can see shapes… dark shapes. I can hear shouts and cheers… but they are not our own. My comrades… my friends… my brothers…. They are silent.
"Fredericksburg! Fredericksburg! Fredericksburg!"
My eyes turn towards my general. His head is lowered… his hat is removed from his silver hair… his eyes are dim…. I can see that his heart is broken. His voice is faltering and weak, as he utters only five, solitary words.
"It is all my fault."
A tear falls from my eye, coursing its way down my cheek. The spirit… the warrior… the fight in my general… has been laid down with his men on the field. I shake my head.
"Let us reform and hit them again!"
He looks at me, a tear of his own on his cheek. His steed turns away from me, southwards. With only a single shake of his head, my general rides silently away.
I watch him, my heart screaming to charge onto this battlefield and bring Purgatory on those who have slaughtered us. Instead, my gaze turns toward heaven, as I remove my hat and weep.
Over 50,000 men are killed in Gettysburg, in the year 1863. Those that survive remember the slaughter and the sacrifice. Their children remember the reason their parents and brothers, who died on the fields of their forefathers. Their children's children try to forget their parent's loss.
By the fourth generation, they forget completely.