"If heaven is merciful, it will some day efface from my consciousness the sight that I saw, and let me live my last years in peace. I cannot sleep at night now, and have to take opiates when it thunders. The thing came abruptly and unannounced; a daemon, rat-like scurrying from pits remote and unimaginable, a hellish panting and stifled grunting, and then from that opening beneath the chimney a burst of multitudinous and leprous life—a loathsome night-spawned flood of organic corruption more devastatingly hideous than the blackest conjurations of mortal madness and morbidity. Seething, stewing, surging, bubbling like serpents’ slime it rolled up and out of that yawning hole, spreading like a septic contagion and streaming from the cellar at every point of egress—streaming out to scatter through the accursed midnight forests and strew fear, madness, and death."
"There are vocal qualities peculiar to men,
and vocal qualities peculiar to beasts;
and it is terrible to hear the one
when the source should yield the other."
Some years ago, while walking along Swan Point, I happened upon this Union Soldier’s grave. This officer become of a special interest to me for further research has reveled he fought alongside my great grandfather, Mahlon Bryan Laux, on the very same horrific, blood soaked battlefield in Petersburg, VA, June 15 - 18, 1864. I have stood upon that death meadow, and to the sensitive thinker it can manifest as a lurid and shudder some experience. The cacophony of mortars, muskets and canon seemed like a quiet adagietto compared to the screams, the pain and the death rattles of the eleven thousand soon to die. Blue and Grey has little distinction when soaked in red. Fear, pain and death do not choose sides. The young officer died of his injuries received in battle, my great grandfather survived although letters from the family archived and stories passed along the decades since, indicate he had lost, or perhaps gained, something from his experience for the changes in his demeanor were apparent to everyone who knew him prior to his enlistment.
My great grandfather lived until 1907.
His Tombstone Reads: "He sleeps his last sleep, He has fought his last battle, No sound can awaken him to glory again. One less on earth his pain his sorrow and trials to share. One less Pilgrims daily cross to bear. One more crown of the blest to wear. At home and in heaven. 105th Pennsylvania Volunteers"
Dennis James Laux
"Eternal brood the shadows on this ground,
Dreaming of centuries that have gone before;
Great elms rise solemnly by slab and mound,
Arch’d high above a hidden world of yore.
Round all the scene a light of memory plays,
And dead leaves whisper of departed days,
Longing for sights and sounds that are no more."