Voices from the Past - Out of That Silence Rose New Sounds More Appalling Still

Posted: 10/31/2011
Author: Laura June Davis
Drawing of Confederate dead in Fredericksburg, VA

The Battle of Fredericksburg (December 11-15, 1862) was a decisive loss for the Union army, crippling northern morale. The chilling quote below derives from Lieutenant Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain's description of the battle's aftermath.


But out of that silence rose new sounds more appalling still; a strange ventriloquism, of which you could not locate the source, a smothered moan, as if a thousand discords were flowing together into a key-note weird, unearthly, terrible to hear and bear, yet startling with its nearness; the writhing concord broken by cries for help, some begging for a drop of water, some calling on God for pity; and some on friendly hands to finish what the enemy had so horribly begun; some with delirious, dreamy voices murmuring loved names, as if the dearest were bending over them; and underneath, all the time, the deep bass note from closed lips too hopeless, or too heroic to articulate their agony...It seemed best to bestow myself between two dead men among the many left there by earlier assaults, and to draw another crosswise for a pillow out of the trampled, blood-soaked sod, pulling the flap of his coat over my face to fend off the chilling winds, and still more chilling, the deep, many voiced moan that overspread the field.


We hope you all have a haunting Halloween!


Image Credit
: Library of Congress.

 

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