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."
"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age."
There exists in humankind certain curiosities not readily explained by the common laws of science and nature; nor do they conform to any law of contemporary observation. To a sensitive thinker, with proclivities toward the arcane, one would well view such curiosities as an opportunity for discovery, recklessly unmindful of the potential threat to his own peace and sanity.
Dennis James Laux
….. this maligned pathos that now stood before the boy restrained within a pen-like enclosure in no regard by any rational observation would never be considered human or wholly human. Yet this being carried a frightfully disquieting aspect suggesting it had entered this world in a manner not unlike the whole of humanity. The boy shuddered at this implication. Their eyes met just briefly and he reeled nearly losing his senses. In those eyes, he saw shame, remorse, ignominy, and unending loneliness. He saw the black sorrow of bright memories. He saw pain, loss, unrelenting misery, detachment and abject fear. Even more terrible these eyes showed the clarity of undeniable self-awareness and the awful knowledge that relief resides only in oblivion. The boy felt something, a cold cerebral displacement. Then the icy truth of revelation embraced him. The child’s unquestioned belief in a well-ordered universe eternally guided by a benevolent hand was at once irrevocably shattered now replaced with the grim reality of the uncertain and the insecure. Here was some ghastly allegory of humankind and the boy’s own image reflected in this bête noire’s suffering eyes seized him with such an infernal chthonian vertiginous horror he toppled forward striking his head on the very cage holding this aberration. A discomposing sensation of recognition, and more terrible, empathy, was met with an unsuccessful effort to deny such thoughts.
What stood before the boy was a cosmic abomination, a cruel cosmic joke and allowing this being to live another hour was crueler even still. His youthful curiosity, his heedless trespass had led him to the abysmal brink of sanity and save for the merciful intercession of a gravely concerned orderly the boy was certain in another moment he…..
From “Building 414” by Dennis James Laux