Two Civil War Poems by Robert Baylot
Looking Down From Fort Hill
Most panoramic of the Park’s civil war vistas,
The view from Fort Hill,
Once called Fort Nogales when Spaniards had command.
Viewers’ eyes look down on the Yazoo River Diversionary Canal,
Where the Mississippi River once ran.
From the fort’s location,
You see the undulating hills,
Hills to be ascended in war,
And strategic location is obvious.
Though no fort still stands,
Locations for cannons abound.
The kids running through the dugout hilltop
Imitate the sounds of war
And reckon the distant reality of a cannonball
Directed to a passing ship,
Perhaps Admiral Porter’s gunboats.
The Waterfall (Outside the Vicksburg National Military Park)
Maybe forty feet the water falls
And tumbles down a small slab-sized rock,
Just outside the unused entrance arch
Where seventeen thousand fallen soldiers lie.
Cooling water streams down,
Obscured by uncut brush and trees
And thus water pours down into a small pool,
Secluded, apart from the solemn cemetery.
When soldiers fought for Vicksburg,
Did this water cool the heat,
Was it a small creek or just puddle water
To be sipped or splashed on sunbaked skin,
While death found so many men.
Outside the solemn cemetery,
Waters cool a quiet, hot day,
Waters that promise reprieve and new life.
Robert Baylot writes from Germantown, Tennessee, and lived for many years in Vicksburg, Mississippi, working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He has published poetry in Deep South Magazine, Clarion Magazine and The Broad River Review.