Casualties on the Front Lines
Johann Hour 3
As I was playing cards with my buddy Jim, I heard the colonel walk by on the squishy,
wet mud. He walked up the creaking wooden stairs up to the podium. I had a royal flush, and
right as I was about to throw it down on the table, the colonel shouts out a speech he had been
planning since this morning. It was 11:45 PM. I was just drafted from my home town in new
York, though it was my choice. He declared with his loud, low tone voice, “Gentlemen, I have
seen our brothering fall and I have seen them rise, but never have I seen them turn against us.
In the next month or year, or however long it takes to accomplish victory, we will give it our all
in order to take our power to the top, and defeat the confederacy. Though some of you may fall
and some of you shall shatter into pieces watching some of your great friends, and your allies
crash to the ground before you, you all will give it all you have and go into battle thinking you
will not survive, but think also that your soul will live on in the memories of your comrades. If
you shall live, think yourself lucky, that you may live on and remember those people who fell
before you and seeing the pain that you will endure throughout this war, you will no longer
know fear, but fear will know you.” He stepped off the podium and the candle lit lantern next to
him was blown out by the wind as he stomped his large black boot into the soft ground. We had
gotten tired throughout the speech, therefore I crept into my nice soft cushy bed in the nice
felt tent, yeah right, I wish that would be the case.
I steadily woke up and lifted my head up through the dense fog filled air. I looked to my
right and my vision was still blurry. After rubbing my eyes, I saw the rest of my platoon and they
were all still sleeping. I got up, got into uniform and already had my boots filled with water and
muck. It wasn’t the best thing to start the day with. I went by the fire to dry my boots off and I
had gotten some bread and beef to make a hot sandwich. A flat rock made a great frying pan.
As I enjoyed my sandwich and slept a little more, Jim had woken up as well. He did not notice
me for his eyes probably were not working at their fullest yet. I gradually began to see his
silhouette walking through the tents, and finally he came down by the fire to warm up. It was
May, but it had still been cold. My bitter hands were in my pockets and trying to warm up as I
talked to my friend. The colonel came out and said it was going to be a good day, not too good I
thought, any day in war would end in a bad result in my eyes. After all the people in the platoon
had woken up, we tore down the shelter made of felt and branches of a pine tree. One of the
needles pricked across my skin and felt the wet dew of the previous night. There was no telling
what was going to happen next, but we followed orders, and that’s all we had to do. We started
to head out, none of us were looking forward to this day.
It was three hours into our hike, uphill and down, through rough waters and calm, we
slowly approached the battlefield. Vicksburg was what we wanted. It was right next to the
Mississippi, this was going to be a big battle. We climbed over the next hill and saw the wall and
the river running off to the right and left. We slowly scampered to it and as we came closer and
closer, we could see the confederacy. We weren’t going to attack yet, we had not nearly
enough people, 237, this was not nearly enough. As we set up camp and waited for the others,
they gradually walked out of the brush and I could see them clearly. We were suppose to have
over 75,000 people here. A month past and we could see a giant mob of our troops, we could
see the confederacy still inside of their base, bracing for the attack. It was July 4th, and we had
not seen this many people ever in our life. They had their 33,000 troops on their side, we
knew we were going to win. As we marched to their wall and saw how it got taller and taller as
the minutes passed, we had finally reached it and began to breach. It was a long process, not
long enough to keep us off though. It had taken us only a day. As we charged in, guns blazing
everywhere, the calm streams of the Mississippi brought me back to my family and the good
old days . I was a simple factory worker, it had been much more pleasant there than here. As I
came back to reality, there was all my allies running forward into the flames and wreckage. A
giant foxhole on the ground from a cannonball shot provided me with much cover. The battle
had lasted a long time, for a battle. At the end, we had been the victor. We had walked out
with no more than 4,835 casualties, for the fact that we had 77,000 troops, we had been
pretty good about this. They did not do so well. Out of their 33,000 troops, they had lost
3,200 and the other 29,000 had been captured. It was a surprising result and we were all glad
for the outcome. Not only have we won, but it was open of the biggest battles in the war. The
colonel had come up to the make-shift podium and began his speech but this time it was not so
long. “ Well done”, he had said, and walked away.
Coming out the victor of this battle, we had gained even more confidence than we had
ever had. We marched down south for the next objective and we had no do doubt in the back
of our minds we were going to lose. And thus with that said, we got ready for the next chapter
in the war, and we had marched onto victory. Many days and month and years went by. As we
charged onward towards the end, it was reassuring what we had done in the beginning and see
what king of things we can change. Lincoln had become president again and slaves had been
freed. As the long trip back to New York passed, we reconfigured the timeline in our head and
had thoughts of the good times we had together. I rode up to my house and saw my wife and
two kids come out. They were so grown up. It was amazing how things change when you don’t
focus on it.
This story was about the Siege of Vicksburg and what had happened after the war. It
was also resembling the life of a soldier in the Union and how things can change when you
are preoccupied in war. The Siege of Vicksburg was over the Mississippi and how it changed
the war. It cut off all of the supplies for the Confederate for they had all of their supplies
delivered via the river. It had also cut the Confederate in two pieces, using the Mississippi as
the divider. The battle itself had lasted only a few days while the entire performance of the
idea of the battle had taken more than a month for the Union needed more people in order
to take over Vicksburg.
A Nation Divided, historyplace.com. "The History Place - U.S. Civil War 1861-1865." The
History Place. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 May 2010.
"The Vicksburg Campaign May 1863 American Civil War Battle." American Civil War History
Timelines Battle Map Pictures. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 May 2010.
Zeller, Bob. "Siege of Vicksburg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia." Wikipedia, the free
encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 May 2010.
Zeller, Bob. The Civil War in Depth, Volume II. Bk&Acces ed. San Francisco: Chronicle Books,