DAMN THIS WAR

Crawfish Springs, Gordon Lee Mansion, September 17, 1863


General William S. Rosecrans slowly ascends the staircase of the graceful southern mansion known as the Gordon Lee. It has been a long weary evening of debates over war strategy with his officers. Reaching the landing, he pauses momentarily to glance down at the men who so willingly entrust him with their lives. Tonight that responsibility is almost overwhelming. Exhausted from the rigor of the day, he finds it impossible to think. A battle is imminent.

Entering his room, he gently closes the door behind him. His eyes slowly adjusts to the dimness of the room. He carefully removes his sword and leans it against the wall and his star adorned jacket, he places neatly over a chair. He notices that someone has brought a decanter of brandy to his room. He gratefully pours a glass and downs it in one swallow in hopes of numbing the stress of the day. Not having the immediate desired effect, he pours another. This one he takes in hand and moves toward the crackling fireplace. Placing the glass on the mantle, Rosecrans pounds his fist against the surface, almost knocking the brandy to the floor. He grips the smooth wood so tightly that his knuckles begin to turn white. "Damn this war!"

As he stares into the flickering flames, his trance-like state carries him home and to the faces of his family. Were they well? Would he ever see them again? God, how he longed to hold his wife in his arms just one more time and feel her soft lips against his. But, he must not allow his thoughts to travel there. Insanity will surely come if he does. He is a long way from home and tonight the pain is more than he can endure. He takes the brandy from the mantle and downs this one also.

Walking to the window, he stares into the darkness. Was the enemy out there watching him? Let them! As he defiantly moves closer, his vacillating mind will not let him rest. He tries to pray.

"Oh Mighty God, You alone are Sovereign. Your Omnipotent Power carries me through the futility of this war. Why must men choose to take up arms? Father, You alone know the outcome of each day. Guide me and give me Your wisdom to judge aright. Give my men Your favor and send Your angels of mercy to those who will give their lives on this battlefield. May each one feel You near if they should breathe their last."

He bows his head and waits for God to answer. And in the darkness, where only God can see, a single tear streams down his face and onto his collar. The brandy begins to take it's toll as his mind numbs, his countenance relaxes, and peace finally comes in the silence.



© Coleen Mohr, 2001 (CWGal)