On This Day 153 Years Ago

In honor of this weekend being the 153rd anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, I give you a scene from my Civil War novel, Amongst the Roses. We find Irish brothers Connor and Adam Doyle, privates in the 6th PA Reserves/35th PA Infantry regiment at the foot of Little Round Top with Devil's Den just to their left, a wheatfield just stretched in front of them alongside some scrappy woods just ahead of them. Their regiment arrived midday on July 2nd after a twenty-eight hour march, and this scene takes place that same day, right around the areas pictured in the photos from last year's trip to Gettysburg. 
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“We’re close.” Connor and Adam spoke at the same time, but grim realization fell as sure as the gunfire they would meet in short order. Peach trees, limbs heavy with fruit were on their right, and Connor craned his neck to try and see what lay beyond the curve in the road masked in smoky dust only gun and cannon fire could make.
“Oh, God.” Connor caught his footing before he tripped and fell. It can’t be. They once climbed on those far-off boulders on lazy Sunday afternoons in their childhood. No one from town invited them to dinner or to picnic in the summer months, so they often took short treks down the pike and turned south a half hour from the Gettysburg town square to a terrific climbing hill for he and Adam, while Da, Ma and the girls picnicked on a blanket at the foot of the hill. Connor swallowed hard and looked away, but was met with the sure stench of death.
The smell of rotting flesh—animal and human—were surely what hell must smell like.
The whole lot of them were practically at a standstill, and Connor couldn’t stand to keep still, so he stepped around Adam and poked his head around the mass of idle blue-clad bodies. A fork in the road. And it appeared General Crawford was arguing with someone. Are they serious right now?! Connor rocked back and forth on his heels, impatient, until Adam’s hand stilled him. “We’ll be moving along in a moment. Stop worrying.”
“I’m not worrying. Itching to shoot some Rebs is all.” Connor spat onto the ground in front of him but Adam rolled his eyes and pursed his lips. He didn’t buy it, but Connor wouldn’t let on that Adam was right.
His younger brother knew him far too well.
“To the left! At the double quick!”
Now they moved as if demons were chasing them out of hell. Connor attached himself to Adam’s side when the order came down the lines to move into columns of two to pass through the narrow lane off the road. Adrenaline thrummed, and in his ears rang his only duty. Watch out for Adam. Watch out for Adam.

Connor caught Adam praying under his breath as they narrowly dodged two ambulances and were forced to step through a field of wounded and dying. How long has there been fighting here? One man lay on the ground near Connor’s feet, one eye missing, while the other stared sightlessly up to the sky. Flies buzzed around him and Connor looked away, but almost tripped over a leg. Attached to nothing.
A slap rang out across his cheek and Connor was jolted back to reality with Adam’s insistent voice. “Stay with me. Come on, brother.” He was still right next to him, but he sounded as if he were calling from yards away.
“Hey, come on!”
Adam was scared out of his mind, and it was that one glance to his younger brother’s face that spurred Connor on. The urge to flee was replaced with one to fight. To dodge a fate that could too easily befall either of them with one single enemy bullet.
Meghan M. Gorecki
Meghan M. Gorecki

Words, history, and grace color my days here in The Burgh where I seek out the perfect coffee and red lipstick.