The situation is conducive to serious meditations.

SWMODave

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The Picket by William Gilbert Gaul
The lonely picket on an outpost between two vast contending armies occupies an important position. Great responsibilities rest upon him, hence the penalty of being found asleep on one’s post used to be death.

The situation is conducive to serious meditations. You stand in the shade of a tree which screens you from any reb who may be crawling about for a shot at some careless Yank.

The moon sends a beam through the leaves right into your eye, and you recall that it is the same old moon way down in Virginia that used to shine up in York State. You think how you and some one else who is far away used to lean across the gate, look at the moon and then at each other and sigh.

Then you wonder if some one is thinking of you.

You wish you might get a slight wound so you could go home where all would be talking of your bravery. Perhaps it would touch some one’s heart so she would say “yes.”

Then you would think of your present condition; you wonder why it is that such a fellow as lazy Jim Lee should be “commissioned” instead of you, who never “shirked” a guard. You pronounce the war a failure, and would like to see the leaders on both sides hung. You wonder if your regiment will get into another battle to-day, and say to yourself that you don’t care if you get killed (you do though), and then you think of your poor comrade “Dave,” who was killed at your side yesterday morning in a charge on the enemy in that clump of “pines” over there at the right. You put your hand in your pocket and draw forth the lock of hair you cut from his head when his life’s blood was ebbing away, and which he told you to send to his “dear old mother.” You brush the silent tear away that has commenced to course its way down your dust covered cheek.

Then from out the half-light sounds a solitary bugle, like the first wavering note of the roused bird, chirping good morning to its mate. A second bugle answers its reveille. Another and another sound along the line. The drums take up their morning rattle. Soon the air is filled with their deafening jubilee, for they beat with a perfect recklessness at the “get up” time of the camp. The hum of voices begin to rise. The roll call is gone through with. Mules whinner and horses neigh.

The camps are alive. The birds sing, and—it is day.

There comes the “relief guard.”



Drum Taps in Dixie: Memories of a Drummer Boy, 1861-1865
 

War Horse

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Lonely is the picket, the sound of the snap of every twig, the rustling of the fallen leaves, even that dang wind could be the harbinger of your death. Your thoughts run wild with visions of the enemy, your heart breaks for those who fell by your side. The thought of desertion nags at your soul. What sane man would blame you? If not for the love of your comrades who lay fast asleep just a short distance away, surely you would succumb. Alas, you are the first line of defense. What chance do they have without you. No, you will not desert. The love of God, Country and your fellow man will not permit it. It is your destiny to stand this lonely post come what may. Lonely is the post of the picket.
 
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