Lorenzo Dow Watson was only 16 when he enlisted in the Union army. Lorenzo witnessed the death of thousands in the Battle of Shiloh, including his cousin John Watson, in whose memory he penned this poem, included in Kenneth L. Alford’s (BA ’79) Civil War Saints.
At night we lay together
Near the waters of the Tennessee
When before the dawn
We woke at the alarm
Of the advancing enemy.
That day when forced from cover
Under a merciless hail of lead
Together we sank
At the river’s bank
While all ’round us lay the dead
“Buell is coming,” he shouted
As I handed him my bruised canteen.
He took it and drank,
Returned it, and sank
Suddenly down, the dead between.
A red stream ’neath his visor
Showed why he utter no cry,
I knelt in the sand
As I grasped his hand
And ’midst the dying watched him die.
That night with a broken mess-pan
I there hollowed his grave in the sand
And at break of day
I left him to lay
At rest in peace in that southern land.