Lt. Clarke peered over the edge of the trench.
His gaze was slowly sweeping over the landscape of no man’s land.
The fog that hung over the battlefield was thick and heavy.
The humidity was oppressive and had a smell to it, sticking to the Spanish moss in the old oak trees like dripping blood.
He watched the lines of the enemy not 50 yards away.
They had gotten closer…..
“Close…too damn close” he said to himself.
“Poague!” Lieutenant Clarke barked at his private…“Come here!”
Poague crouched over to his Lieutenant, his face ashen, his eyes with a thousand yard stare.
Lt. Clarke pulled Poague up to his observation perch just below the ridge of the main embankment.
“How we looking on ammo?” the Lieutenant asked.
Poague thought for a second, then whispered “We gotta collect all we can that’s close” He wiped the grime from his eyes with his fingers “We cain’t move out to the bigger pile cuz they got us pinned down”
Poagues eyes searched his Lieutenant.
Lt. Clarke kept his watch over the enemy lines…thinking.
He had to issue orders quick.
Time saved soldiers….and killed them.
Not good….Not good at all.
The Lieutenant and his rebels had faced many a battle together trying to regain parts of lost territory in this small part of their land.
This was their home.
They would die to keep it pure from the blue-belly scum.
The enemy from the North had come to Georgia to disrupt their lives, pilfer their homes, and ransack their provisions and possibly…..
No….They couldn’t let this happen
It was too terrible to contemplate the ravages that the Yankee horde would bring upon their homelands.
It had to end here.
“We only have 2 guns left Lieutenant, the others jammed…” Poague continued, his eyes fixed on the sudden movement of a small group of Yankees racing to another trench.
Poague stole a look over at Starr and Buck who were crouching down behind the ammo cache.
Buck was on his back with his gun lying across his chest, staring at the sky.
Starr whispered over his shoulder “Well? We gonna move or something…”
Any further questions he had were interrupted by panicked shouts from PFC Cato of incoming mortars.
The rebels started to scatter…shouting and tripping over one another.
There was nowhere to go! No cover!
Their flanks were covered by the Northern aggressor’s riflemen, so no good there. The mortars were locked in on their position, raining pain and anger.
Explosions of red earth and knife edged grass ripped against the lip of the trench spraying chunks of shrapnel in all directions
“Keep down y’all!! Keep y’alls danged heads down!” Lt. Clarke shouted as he rolled to the bottom of the trench, vacating his perch from out of the line of fire.
Starr cried out….He had tried a diving jump for cover when a rifle ball pinged off the ground and caught him under his left eye.
“I’m hit!” He screamed
All of them were getting hit by small clods of the red clay, rocks and BB’s.
Shouting, screaming, cursing…..dirt and dust flying thru the South Georgia sky.
Dirt Clod War at its finest!
Other rebels began yelling for medics, their Mama’s, God and each other….The incoming fire relentless and dealing death.
A screen door slammed.
The barrage halted. Soldiers quit shouting.
Only a few whimpers from the wounded sissies could be heard.
Silence on a battlefield is a terrible song.
Starr was crying now. He wanted his mom.
He was a sissy and Lt. Clarke immediately charged him with treason.
His sentence for later that day….? ”Death by Wedgie”
They stood there in awful majesty and judgment, their hands on their hips, flowery aprons flapping in the new morning breeze.
The Mama General of the Southern forces was holding a plum tree switch.
The Northern Mama General had a big wooden spoon.
“We are not telling y’all agin about chunking dirt clods and shooting bb guns at each other!” Mama General Clarke was yelling, screaming and gleaming at both armies.
“I warned y’all and your cousins about this last year when they came down here!” She hollered some more “They come down here all the way from Ohio and all y’all can think about is fightin’ like the Civil War!”
The Yankee scum Mama General was moving toward her troop of men…slapping the wooden spoon against her leg. “I’ll show y’all fighting” She growled at her troops.
Some of the sissy Yankee scum made a break for it but were quickly recaptured and summarily executed.
Their valorous feats during combat were scorned now by being branded “Sissy”.
Soldiers from both armies were punished with extreme prejudice and malevolent rancor and scorn.
Since Lt. Clarke was an officer and a leader of men, he was given 3 hours of hard labor and no ice cream after supper.
Later that evening while Lt. Clarke and the Granny General of the Southern Army were sitting on the front porch in the swing drinking tea, watching the frogs bounce around under the dim glow of the porch light on the dirt front yard and, the smaller troops catching fireflies, Granny General asked her favorite Lieutenant….
“Yes ma’am” the Lieutenant replied proudly.
The Granny General patted him on his leg and said “Go on in there and get you some ice cream, I’ll keep an eye out fo yo mama”
War is hell…..