Andersonville Prison, 1864
“Is this place Hell” a prisoner asked his first day there;
No, just a stop along the way.
Andersonville Prison, 1864. Hell Upon Earth.
The hounds of hell waited for those stranded in battle by
canon shot, hunted down by the rain of bullets from the gray
coats; a place to avoid like the plague.
They came, perhaps 45,000; no one knows for sure.
They learned fast to stand far back from the Dead Line;
where a bullet was a mercy.
They were the walking dead and the already dead
that didn’t know it; men of bones and taut skin held
in place by memories of who they were before this place.
Their mouths and eyes moving as they milled around, some falling down in place, stepped over by those with the strength. An endless sea of pallor stretched across excrement covered ground, filth and
disease baking in the blistering Georgia sun.
Hunger is the constant companion, always demanding
an equal share as thirsty men gulped down defiled brackish
water, and always a foul smell retched up the land,
soaking the pores of the living.
Andersonville, where hell found sanctuary on the
land and devoured it with pleasure. Sixteen acres of
torment where time stopped and days were measured in the
corpses counted in the morning.
Death was a way home into the soft red
Georgia soil and some 13,000 found their way there.
Skeletons walking in rags, living in a place where surviving was
the only cause worth fighting for now.
Here feudal kingdoms reigned supreme.
“The Raiders,” they called themselves; thieves who wore the
same blue coat of arms. Carnal house creatures falling on the weak, vultures swooping down for the kill, sucking at the remains.
One bloody night those calling themselves “The Regulators”
swooped in and took their revenge on the Raider scum.
Hung six of them up high, put the rest of their evil to rest;
the war of blue against blue was over.
Andersonville, where surviving waged war on living and memories festered like an open wound. It was a place where staying alive was always one day closer to dying.
Copyright © Steve Zak | Year Posted 2018
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