Oh the Wonders I have Witnessed
I have seen a cabin begin to rise in the wilderness in a short morning, built of pulled up logs and hacked deadfall, by two long legged men with axes.
I have seen a fine Bloodhound find new purpose in life, doing the work God created her to do.
I have stood under a sudden waterfall in a Howling Wilderness, good for bathing and for drinking, tumbling down weathered rocks.
I have heard distant cannon boom through the night, and wild hogs snort and snuffle near by.
I have seen men weep because they had fallen out, unable to go another step, held their hands and told them they were home.
I have seen a yoke of four oxen, a blue wagon, and a grizzeled wagoneer plodding through the deep woods.
I have laid my head against an ox's side and felt his great heart beat.
I have listened to the wagonneer as he told the stories of his service in the 1812 War, and told the stories of the wars his fathers fought before him.
I nodded as the men negotiated a young boy's apprenticeship and watched as the boy walked away behind the wheel ox, to a new life and the responsibilities of a man.
I have seen men who never stopped working to build a home in the wilderness for their families, and who prayed to Heaven the war would not come to their farms.
I have seen a young widow with her baby strapped to her back and her husband's bloody shirt in her arms, dodge betweeen two armies into percieved safety and home, and find no hiding place there.
I have heard the coyotes howl in the night, and seen the chickens huddle closer to the door.
I have seen children go off a fishin', with poles and bait and picnics and such--fishin' though that does not mean catchin'
I have seen a man hungry enough for hot food, and bereft enough of something to take it in, to hold out his hat as a bowl for the food, and eat from it with his hands.
I have seen women cook enough to feed an army in an handfull of pots over broken deadfall, and haul it a half mile over broken terrain at dusky dark to feed that army.
I have heard voices, strong high, and sweet, singing over the washpots as they did the laundry for 19 people, with scrub boards and washpots, with water hauled with buckets and yoke, over fires they built themselves.
I have seen two women who never, ever stopped cooking.
And two more who never, ever stopped nursing.
And another who never ever was at a loss for fine things five children could find to do.
I have seen an army appear in an instant, silent as the grave, and there without warning. Even though I knew they were coming, and from which direction.
And in that dappled sunlit piney woods, one army looks about like another, hard to tell apart--weary, hard, hungry, men------here, gone.
And leaving us in their wake......to rebuild a war torn land.
Banks Grand Retreat.