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Joby The Shiloh Silent Screamer - Essay Narrative
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Joby The Shiloh Silent Screamer - Essay Narrative
This was a paper I had to do for English and, I decided to put it in here because it explains the way I write. It's supposed to be a narrative of a young Drummer boy that was on the side of the Confederecy during the Civil War. Joby took place in the battle of Shiloh in Tennessee. This is a response to the story "Drummer Boy of Shiloh" by Ray Bradbury. If you can find it somewhere, definitely read it! It's great! Please excuse no paragraphs, I'm too lazy to fix it.
[1,144 words]
Vianne-Marie Fortier
Growing up too fast.
Poetry in motion, verses flying past her on the highway.
And she breathes in the air.
She can smell the perfume of decaying unpublished literature.
To her, it reminds her of home
And the Pennsylvania sunshine.
[June 2004]
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Joby The Shiloh Silent Screamer - Essay Narrative
Vianne-Marie Fortier

My dear Mother,

I’ve missed you, my mother. Please let the news of you and Matilda be good. I apologize if my running away caused you any grief. I’m so sorry, Mama. I didn’t know what I was doing. Maybe it was the full moon that night that sent me running through our cotton fields. Maybe it was anger or the heartache of Papa’s death that led me onward to Tennessee. I know it was stupid of me. I didn’t even leave you a note. I couldn’t help myself and neither could the Confederate Army. South Carolina seems like a lifetime away as if Papa took it with him when he left us. I was trying to fill his spot. I was trying to heal the wound the bullet left in his chest. I couldn’t be him. I couldn’t live up to him. I enlisted in the army.
The army gave me a drum and thumped a beat on the instrument to demonstrate a tune I should follow. This is perhaps why I ran away. The beating drum must have heard me cry the pervious night. What was I to do with a drum and its sticks? What sort of weapon was this? I wanted to smash it by thrusting my fist into the skin stretched taut across the wood. I had come to take over the position that Papa left when he found himself barely breathing on the battlefield, and I had gotten a musical task instead. I was ashamed of myself because I could never be the soldier that he wished I could be.
That night I slept underneath the peach tree and prayed that angels would descend and teach me to play the drum, but they ignored me. I was so petrified of what the battle would bring, but the beauty of the falling peach blossoms temporarily blinded me from bravery frailness. It was beautiful, even though the timing for such pulchritude was late arriving. It looked as though a member of the celestial order was shredding his wings from his safe cloud haven above. The flowers scattered the ground and the regal moon winked down at them. I closed my eyes to rest them, and the General spoke to me. General Johnston’s voice was drenched with confederate pride and he had the compounded smells to recreate the spirit of Father. His scents of perspiration pipe tabacco, saddle leather, and horses all lingered above him like a halo. He was a shepherd dressed in gray wool and gloves. He was looking over his soldier lamb man-boys.
General Johnston spoke to me with raw emotion in his words; “ You are the heart of the army, boy. I need you. We need you. “ When he spoke those words he coaxed the fear dragon within me and calmed my raging fear. He seemed to mean the words that passed through his thin apricot lips. I had been terrified of what tomorrow’s sun would awake when its pale rays. Somehow, his statements made one army the following day. I set the army’s pace. I was the heart of the army. I pumped the life to and from the army’s parts, and gave them the energy to march forward. The young soldiers were the transporters of the blood. They were vessels and to complete the deed, they shot sulfur from their muskets.
The soldiers on my side started early, when the union men were still lazy from their lunar slumber. It was not an early morning delight for them. Cannons shot smoke into the air that created dust fog. The dust would starve the grass for air. I kept on beating the drum, although I wished I could hide inside it and wallow. I wanted to become a percussion wallflower, hiding in the shadow of the drum’s walls. The command to beat came quickly so I had no time to cry and hide. I needed to be a man just as the General had told me. The sticks against the canvas of the drum gave me the worst headache.
I watched the battle lay before my youthful eyes. I knew this day had taken my innocence as I watched men fall forward, writhe in agony, and floating in owl creek with their faces swollen from trying to take their last breath. Their breath wouldn’t come and the either bled to death or drowned from falling in. The water was stained crimson like a sky at sunset, but by sundown the creek was full of them. You could use the corpses as a bridge to walk from one side of the tiny river to the other side. I was disgusted. I remember vomiting into the body-filled creek twice after it was over. Last night’s supper had come up easily.
The blue-clad men came like ocean waves, although I have never set eyes on the crashing tendrils of foam to graying rock and sand. The confederacy pushed onward and was ready to become a tidal wave. I must say, though, that our bayonets and minieballs were much more effective on loss of life then thundering water.
The church of Shiloh was so near that I wanted to run to. I wished I could uncurl my fingers from the drumsticks and drop the instrument and run to the church. I wanted to get on my knees and beg that He take me away from this scene and carry me to a much safer field. I had been in the orchard, Mama, and the Virgin bore no fruit from her womb.
I wished my eyes had not seen so much and that my hat would magically grow large and hide the globes near my forehead that reflected violence to a maximum, but I saw it all. I wept after that. My tears were as hot as their pride the night before.
General Johnston was killed in the battle. I heard through soldier gossip that he had bled to death because he had been shot in the leg. I will never forget the words he had spoke to me. The words that had been so low that they had sung in my veins will continue to sing in my head for the rest of my life. I must be getting along now, for I have to get to bed. Tomorrow’s is to be a long day and I wouldn’t waste any time that the night holds in darkness. I will write more now that I am accustom to these sights of death. But, whenever someone asks me: “ What did you do for the Civil War?” I will quietly respond, “ I was the drummer boy at Owl Creek, or the battle of the Tennessee River or Church of Shiloh. I was a drummer boy at the battle of Shiloh.”

Your Loyal Son,


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© 2001 Vianne-Marie Fortier
February 2002

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