If It Could Speak...

If the cannon ball could speak,
What would the projectile say?
Did it from barrel streak
With a puff of smoke in fray?

Did it fall on field of strife,
This hurling missile round,
There take a soldier's life,
There lay him low to ground?

Did a soldier before
See a barrel belching fire?
And from its muzzle bore
Fear the coming flier?

Did it gouge nearby,
With a thudding sound?
And dust and dirt there fly,
As it plowed into the ground?

Lo, whether it whirred
Across the field of war,
Or whether it hurl'd, unheard...
Amid the boom and roar...

Or whether it simply dropped
Upon the field, unshot...
All this is here unknown
And by the sphere, unshown...

But looking at this ball
We this can surely muse:
At Gettysburg did fall
A weapon there to use...

And while I do not know
Whether it flew and fought,
Or fell by friend or foe,
I know for what 'twas wrought

Alas, for threat of force,
The ball was manufactured...
Or for dread recourse,
Even people fractured!

A better use of metal
Would be a bridge to span
The diff'rent sides, to settle
The discord, dividing man.       John Riedell

      The cannonball shown here, was found near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, along the Emmitsburg Road, a road that lay between the Union and Confederate lines in July 1863.   Across it Southern troops charged on the 3rd day of battle when many lost their lives.
      It was thought that this cannonball, identified as a six-pounder, was probably linked to a cavalry skirmish.   About an hour after what is called Pickett's charge, there was a Union cavalry action on the Confederate right: the brigade under Brigadier General Elon J. Farnsworth was ordered to attack, and in the engagement, the Union cavalry was fired upon by a Confederate artillery unit (Latham's battery of Longstreet's Corps) that had a six-pounder brass cannon, the only one found to have been at Gettysburg.     
       However, information on this unit indicates that this cannon was disabled on the 2nd day of battle. A captured ten-pounder Parrott was substituted for it.  This cannonball may've already been fired somewhere in the general vicinity the day before the Farnsworth attack.  It is also possible it could have simply fallen to the ground, unfired, during the Southern retreat.
      Farnsworth himself was killed in the engagement, felled by five bullets. 
      The cannon ball was found off park land on private property.

 
   
 

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