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The Long March


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Michael Callahan’s feet stumbled on the rocky earth. They had started the marching early in the morning. The hot noon sun made him feel drowsy and in need of a rest. The fact that he was in the middle of the 60 man formation didn’t help his cause either. Sweat dripped down his cheek. His vision was fading. The rifle on his shoulder felt like it weighed a hundred pounds. The pack he was carrying on his back felt like it was dragging on the ground. He kept to himself for the long march. He didn’t know anyone else who was with him. Most of them didn’t even speak English. There were mainly immigrants, and they were from all over. There were Poles, Germans, Hungarians, and, of course, the Irish. About three months earlier he thought that he could stow away on a trade ship and be able to get to America to find a new life. When he arrived, he was told that he could not get his American citizenship unless he served in the Union Army. The potato famine had hurt his family so much, that he volunteered to earn money in America and send it back to his family in Ireland. He also wanted a life in America as well. Michael thought that everyone deserves a second chance.

There was one man who stood next to him in formation, named Patrick O’Shay, who Michael considered a friend. In talking, they had found out that they both hailed from Cork County in Ireland, the rebel’s county. Patrick was on the run from the English because he was considered a murderer in Ireland. He said, when Michael asked about it, “It ain’t murder. They has no reason to be stealin’ our land. Those bastards believe that they have the right to rule over our island. Bullocks, I say. It’s our land, and we have a right to defend it as such. They is takin’ our food that our laborers farm to feed their countrymen and lettin’ us starve. There is no where safe in Ireland for a Roman Catholic anymore.”

The young lieutenant in charge of the company was an American boy, a son of an old colonel who fought valiantly in the Mexican American War. His father had joined the Confederate Army because his state, Virginia, sided with the South. However the son decided to take the moral high ground and had stayed loyal to the Union. The Lieutenant was ordered decided to lead the company through a forest in Virginia. The soldiers, fatigued and bitter, followed him. As they got deeper in the forest, the soldiers heard a shot from the back of the last platoon. All of the soldiers turned around in horror. At this point the slaughter began.
The Confederate soldiers had heavily fortified the forest along the trail. The young lieutenant drew his saber and ordered the soldiers to fire a volley towards the main Confederate line. However, there was no main direction of the Confederates. They had effectively surrounded the outnumbered Union soldiers. Patrick O’Shay, filled with the rage of battle, fixed his bayonet and along with five other men; charged. The only one to the tree line was Patrick, who effectively took down two Rebels before being brought down by a hail of Confederate bullets.
Michael had stayed on the other side of the platoon. He was just trying to stay alive. This wasn’t the place for him to die. He was praying as he felt the bullets zip above his head. He then felt a warm a pierce at his side. He suddenly felt very weak. He involuntarily dropped to his knees while holding his side. As he brought his hand up to eye level, he saw his blood all over his hand. He fell on his stomach and lay on the dusty ground, surrounded by strangers.
About fifteen minutes later, the battle ended. Callahan knew that he was going to die soon, and there was nothing he could do about it. His vision was fading in and out. Almost everything he saw was spinning. He knew he was losing a lot of blood. The Confederates had successfully repelled the Union advance. The Colonel knew that the Union army had been stopped by the will of his Confederate soldiers. They hollered and whooped as they knew that their land would not be entered. They had sent the Yanks a message which was sealed with their blood. The northerners now know if they wanted to take the South, they would have to earn every inch of land they took. There was no way a self-respecting Southerner would give up their land without a fight. However, this victory was at a cost. The last thing Michael saw was the Confederate Colonel who had set up the ambush get off of his horse. The Colonel looked down at the dead, and saw the limp body of the young Union lieutenant. He knelt down by the corpse, lifted the head up, and started to weep. He then picked up the body and put him on a stretcher. The father had killed his son, and now he had to bury him.



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This article has 3 comments. Post your own!

WHL said...
Feb. 20, 2009 at 9:39 pm:
VERY WELL WRITTEN WITH A GOOD, STRONG OPENING PARAGRAPH THAT GRABBED MY ATTENTION.
 
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J D. said...
Feb. 19, 2009 at 4:55 pm:
powerful story, touches deep emotions
in a few words. I liked it.
 
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JFDScouts2009 said...
Feb. 18, 2009 at 8:45 pm:
well done, suspenseful and flowed nicely. Dramatic, timeless issues. thank you
 
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