Hello friends! Welcome back to another 10 Totally Random Facts post! In Honor of My dear Stonewall Jackson’s final victory, this month we are looking at 10 Totally Random Facts about the Battle of Chancellorsville. *sobs* Let’s see if I can get through this…
And now…an excerpt from “The Rivers of Sorrow”!!!
From Chapter 8: A Place Called Chancellorsville
“No talking whatsoever, don’t load your rifles and if you straggle, you’re getting a bayonet prod! Got it?”
“Yes, sir.” Richard was convinced his soldiers weren’t going to give him any problems. Seth glanced over his squad and was pleased to see them moving briskly, preparing to march.
The gray mist of dawn hung in the air. Seth shivered, partly from the cool morning, partly from anticipation of battle. Maybe they would whip the Yankees for good this time!
Richard trotted past his brother. “32:7-8!” he called to Seth. Seth saluted and grinned at his older brother. The camp verse flashed through his mind. ‘Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him: With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles…’
The 2nd Corps was soon on the march. Jackson’s men filed by in silence. No one was talking; all that could be heard was a muffled tramp, tramp, tramp of soldiers’ feet and the gentle clank of their gear.
Jackson allowed a smile to take to the corners of his lips. These were soldiers; real men. Veterans. Fearless. Hard-core men of war. They would take on anybody. They would follow only those whom they trusted and believed in. They were an Army. They were the best army the world had ever seen. They were men fighting for a cause with all their heart.
Lord, please give Thy divine guidance in this attack. It is only by Thy ever kind Providence that we can even hope to be successful...
Later that evening, the long column halted. They were tired, having just made a 12-mile trek, with only one water stop and no food stops. Part of the column had skirmished with Hooker’s men. Now the Yankees thought the Southerners were withdrawing from the area.
At 5:15 p.m., the attack began. There was only two hours of day light left, when C.S. Brig. Gen. Rodes was ordered to deploy his brigade. Raleigh Colston, Brigadier General, was right behind him.
Richard fell in step with Gen. Jackson and his aides. Champion tensed underneath Richard. He wanted to run; he always wanted to run. Richard patted him on the shoulder. It wouldn’t be long and he would be doing just that.
Excitement mounted inside Richard. Yes, they at last would push Hooker all the way across the river and personally escort them to Washington!
Meanwhile in the Yankee camp, the inexperienced German soldiers of the 11th Corps were talking and laughing while preparing their supper. They listened to music being played in a nearby pine grove.
A young drummer returned to the circle, carrying a bucket of water for a stew that was being made. The soldiers patted him on the back, thanking him for running the errand and promising him the first bowl of stew.
The boy turned to jot a letter to his mother while waiting on his food. He frowned; the ground under him vibrated. He gasped as a deer plowed through the camp, nearly tramping over him in the process.
“Hey, someone shoot some more meat for supper!”
“I’ve never seen so many rabbits or foxes in my life!”
“What I wouldn’t give for that deer there!”
The men laughed at the spectacle, casually wondering what had caused the animals to flee right through their camp.
The soldiers jumped and glanced at the knoll beyond them. There, cresting the hill above them was a line a mile long of Confederate soldiers!
“Get your guns!”
Orders were screamed to each other in a crazy mix of English and German. Everyone ran. Behind them, Confederates advanced.
Richard trotted along next to his commander’s column, waiting for orders and watching for any possible threat on Gen. Jackson’s life. Wounded soldiers still posed a threat and he constantly scanned the camp for such perils.
The Yankees gave up ground rapidly. Oh, they stopped and tried to hold the Confederates back, but their efforts were futile.
 He will finish as a Major General.
 Confederate Brigadier General, known for his hand in the Battle of Chancellorsville.
Until Next Time,
MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone! As you celebrate with family and friends on this holy day, don’t forget to take time and thank God for sending the Most Precious Gift known to mankind! (Click here for more Christmas Fun!) And now, for the conclusion of Stille Nacht!
Part Eight : Stille Nacht
The next morning, Christmas Day, Adler was awakened by Joey, complaining that he was cold. Adler sat up and shook his head, untangling himself from between Sarge’s rucksack and Harold’s discarded blanket.
“You look like you’re feeling better this morning,” Adler replied.
Joey grinned his boyish grin and sat up on his elbow. “Some better, but I still can’t walk on my own. Already tried. Y’all must have been unconscious not to hear me fall earlier. I had to drag myself back into bed.”
Adler yawned and adjusted Joey’s blankets. “I didn’t get just a whole lot of sleep. I think it was about 4:00 when I finally nodded off.”
“Two hours sure ain’t a lot of sleep. What kept you up?”
Adler sighed and held up the book he had tucked in his shirt pocket. “Sarge’s Bible. You know, there are an awful lot of scriptures on the Messiah…and this Jesus does seem to line up.”
Joey nodded soberly. “That’s what we’ve been trying to tell you, Micah. Even the prophet you’re named for knew who He was, before He was born.”
“Maybe. I’ve still got more reading to do.”
“Good. There’s hope for you then.”
The others rolled out of their self-made cocoons and began to mill about the room as Marta prepared breakfast. Rudi came over to change Joey’s bandage and feel his forehead. “You’re still warm, Yank. Better take it easy today. There’s no way you can walk.”
“Ain’t got a choice. Sarge can’t carry me all day on his back!”
Harold whispered something to Rudi, who smiled and nodded. “Be right back,” he called over his shoulder. He motioned to Stefan and the two hurried outside. Adler didn’t pay them any mind.
Hilde skipped around the room shouting “Frohliche Weihnachten!”
Adler smiled. “Merry Christmas.”
Marta smiled and set out bowls to fill with left over potato soup.
The door blew open, nearly knocking Lars into the wall, as Harold and Stefan trudged in with two sturdy branches. Lars shut the door behind them and pulled out his knife. When Sarge realized what they were doing he pulled out his as well. They hacked off the twigs and limbs, making two semi-smooth poles. “We need rope and a sheet,” Lars commented.
Rudi hunted through his pack and Adler reached for his. In the same moment, they pulled out a roll of sturdy cord. “Got it!”
Marta laughed as she headed to the small side room and returned with a stout looking sheet. Working quickly, Lars and Sarge tied together the sheet, branches and rope.
“And there you have it!” Harold said with a grin. “A stretcher for Joey!”
Adler half smiled. “Joey, you’re getting king treatment today.”
Marta turned back to her breakfast preparations. Hilde, still very much in the Christmas spirit, started humming a tune. Stefan smiled at her and hummed along.
Then, Marta’s lone voice began to sing.
Stille Nacht! Heil’ge Nacht!
Alles schlaft; einsam wacht
Nur das traute hoch heilige Paar.
Holder Knab’ im lockigen Haar,
Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh!
Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh!
Sarge smiled as Joey took up the song.
Silent Night! Holy Night!
All is calm; as is bright
‘Round yon virgin, mother and Child.
Holy Infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in Heavenly Peace!
Sleep in Heavenly Peace!
Hilde smiled and clapped her hands, soon joined by everyone. “Merry Christmas!”
After breakfast, Rudi helped Sarge carry Joey out on the stretcher while Lars, consulting a map and compass, showed Adler the way back to American lines. “If this is still accurate,” Lars warned. “They are probably much closer by now. And keep a sharp watch for our men.”
Adler nodded and jotted down the directions on his map. “And you for ours, though I’d guess you’d be better off than us in such a situation.”
They turned as Marta and Hilde came out of the cabin, bundled up and carrying their meager belongings with them. They would accompany their soldiers out of the danger zone back to their lines.
“Well, I guess this is goodbye,” Sarge said, shaking hands with each German present. “I’ll admit, I think at times I’d forgotten you fellows were humans too. Thanks for everything.”
Rudi grinned. “Thanks for proving Americans are equals as well. War paints ugly pictures.”
“Hatred too,” Adler replied. He turned to Lars. “I appreciated our talk.”
Lars smiled. “Keep hoping. They may still be out there.”
The soldiers trooped to the wood shed and Stefan handed out their weapons.
“Thank you, Frau Engel, for everything,” Joey called from the stretcher.
“Yes, thank you,” the others replied.
Marta smiled. “Thank you for sharing Christmas with us. May the Lord Bless and keep you.” She turned to Lars. “Shall we go?”
“Ja, forward march!”
The Germans headed one way, the Americans another. But they were different now. Each carried memories that would last the rest of their lives. Hope for peace and healing had been lit in their hearts…all because of a Baby born in Bethlehem.
And know, for the true story that inspire Stille Nacht...
Have a very Merry Christmas! Jesus is the Reason!
Merry Christmas Eve, Happy 11th Day of Christmas, and welcome to my official 100th post! Can’t believe I’ve been blogging that long! So it’s fitting to celebrate by giving you the next to last part of Stille Nacht! Thank you so much for joining me today! Let’s go star gazing! (Don’t forget to visit Stories by Firefly for more Christmas Eve Fun!)
Part Seven: The Christmas Star
Rudi grabbed his jacket and hat and followed the boys outside. Sarge stood and followed. “I could use some air.”
Lars and Adler remained at the table, staring into their empty bowls until Marta took them to the sink. Lars chanced a glance at Adler. “What happened to your family?”
Adler let his breath out in a rush. “They, um,” he cleared his throat. “They weren’t able to get out of Germany before the boarders closed. A friend wrote me and said they were transported to a concentration camp called Dachau.”
Lars winced and shook his head. “Do you know if they are still alive?”
Adler swallowed. “Mama died two months after arrival. Papa never made it to the camp. He was gunned down at a transport when he tried to get the others to fight back. I don’t know what happened to my siblings.”
“I…I’m so sorry,” Lars said, his voice low. “My family is gone as well. They died in the Normandy storming.”
“They were at Normandy?”
Lars nodded. “I was fortunate enough to have them stationed in France with me. But I still can’t understand why they had to die, civilians, and I still live, a soldier.”
“Was it a bombing?”
“I never should have gotten into all of this! If I had pushed back, taken a stand…”
“You’d be dead.”
“Maybe. But I wouldn’t have guilt plaguing me on a daily basis.”
Adler nodded slowly. He stood and walked quietly over to Joey. The young soldier looked up at him. “Why’s everybody going outside?”
“Going to look at the stars I guess.”
Joey’s face lit up. “I want to see!”
“Alright, uh…oh, there’s your stuff. Let’s get your coat on and I’ll help you outside.”
Lars put on his coat and offered to help with Joey. They went out and helped Joey get settled on a bench beside Stefan. No one said a word, just stared up at the stars, lost in thought.
Joey smiled as he located Orion, while Stefan hunted for Leo. Lars leaned up against the house determined that this time he would find the little dipper which always seemed to evade his watchful eye. Sarge and Adler gazed up at the north star, mentally trying to map their way back to their lines.
The door swung open and Marta came out, holding Hilde’s hand. “Look, Hilde! It’s the star of Bethlehem!”
Rudi translated for Sarge as the group followed Marta’s pointing. The North Star. The brightest one in the sky.
“Is that the star that shone over Baby Jesus’ house in Bethlehem, Mama?”
Marta smiled. “We don’t know for sure, dear. But we like to think so. But do you know why it shone?”
“It was for the Wisemen to follow so they could give Jesus their presents.”
Hilde paused, then asked, “Mama, I love Jesus, but why did He have to come to earth?”
Adler shifted uncomfortably. Here we go again, he thought.
Marta hesitated. Christians had been stiffly persecuted in Germany, since their teachings contradicted Hitler. Should she risk explaining everything to her daughter in front of her guests? Or should she put Hilde off until it was safer? Marta swallowed hard. I am not ashamed of You, Lord…
“Baby Jesus came to earth and was born in a manger, because He loved us enough to die for us. He knew that since we are sinners, we could never get into heaven. So He lived a sinless life and took our sins upon Himself and died in our place. After He was buried, three days later, He rose from the dead, our eternal Lord and Savior. He did all of that because He loved us.”
“Even Hitler, Mama?”
Adler smirked and crossed his arms, eager to hear this reply. “Yes, even for Hitler, darling, if he will only ask Jesus to forgive him of his sins. He died for everyone, man, woman, adult, child, black, white, German, Jewish, American, all of us.”
“What makes you so sure that Jesus is the Savior, the Messiah?” Adler challenged, though the words lacked the bite he normally intoned.
Marta smiled and quoted, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. (Micah 5:2) Jesus was of Bethlehem, was He not?”
“Well, yes, I suppose so.”
“Do you know anyone else of Bethlehem that had done as great things as Jesus?”
“If what they say is true, no.”
“Isaiah 40:11 says, He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. Wouldn’t you say Jesus fits that description? He certainly loved the weak and children. He seems like a shepherd to me.
“Isaiah 49:6 says, And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth. Thus far, I would guess that more Gentiles have come to accept Christ than Jews. And He is our Light.”
Marta wrapped her shawl tightly about her. “There are many more verses that solidify who Jesus is, Pvt. Adler. I challenge you, get a Bible and read the Old Testament. Find the prophecy of the Messiah and see if Jesus doesn’t measure up to every one of them.”
Adler nodded slowly. “I’ll think about it.”
“I’ve got a Bible you can use,” Sarge reminded.
Joey shivered and winced as pain sliced through his leg. Rudi turned to him. “We’d best get him inside. He needs to rest.”
“We all do,” Marta said, opening the door. As they all entered the house, Marta entered a small room and brought out three blankets. “I’m sorry this is all I can spare.”
The soldiers pulled out their own blankets. “We should be able to make do, Frau, thank you,” Lars assured her.
“Then good night,” she said, leading Hilde into the little room.
Joey, Stefan and Harold got the extra blankets. Pallets were made by the fire and each agreed that whoever woke up during the night would chuck on another piece of wood.
As the others faded off to sleep, Rudi checked on Joey one more time. Satisfied that he was sleeping peacefully, he turned back towards their pallets. Lars was looking out the window. “Something wrong?”
Lars shook his head and grinned. “No. I just found the little dipper.”
Be sure and come back tomorrow for the conclusion of Stille Nacht! Have a very Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas and welcome back to day 9 of the 12DOC blog party! (Click here for more Christmas fun!)
Last time, Lars, a German soldier, asked for Rudi, their translator, to ask Adler, an American GI if he was Jewish. Let’s see what happens next!
Part Six: He's Jewish!
Silence hung in the air as Rudi licked his lips and glanced to the side. “He wants to know if you are Jewish, Pvt. Adler.”
Adler refused to answer, shoveling another bite of food into his mouth. When he swallowed, he said, “We’re having a fairly good evening. Let’s keep it that way, shall we?”
Rudi looked down. “Silence is as good as answering.”
Adler narrowed his eyes. “We made an agreement.”
Sarge watched as Lars continued to stare at Adler. “Even if he is Jewish, that doesn’t change the fact that he is a human being with a soul.”
“You don’t have to start that too,” Adler mumbled.
Lars glanced at Rudi. “If he is Jewish, then he might-”
“What does it matter?” Adler spat in German. Everyone stared at him in surprise. But they didn’t have long to recover. “Are you intimidated by Jewish people? Do we scare you? Are you afraid I’m gonna kill you all in your sleep for the awful things you’ve done to my family and my people? Maybe that’s why you’re killing us! Because you’re scared of us! Because we happen to be God’s chosen people and the perfect Aryans weren’t!”
Adler stood and left the table, facing the fireplace.
Lars’ mouth fell open as Adler ended his rant. “I…I didn’t…you…how…” he couldn’t get his words out.
“You are from Germany?” Rudi asked.
“As if that isn’t obvious now?” Lars said, finding his voice. “Adler, I wasn’t going to-”
The scraping of a chair interrupted him again. Hilde slowly walked around the table and stood next to Adler. She took his hand and looked up at him. “It’s okay that you’re Jewish. We love you anyway.”
Silence reigned. Adler looked down at Hilde. She smiled at him, then wrapped her arms around him in a hug. Adler reached down and lifted her into his arms. He hugged her, burying his face in her raven braids. Hilde grinned at her mother and patted Adler’s back, resting her head against his shoulder.
With a deep breath, Adler set Hilde down. She returned to her seat and bit into a piece of the mystery meat Sarge had brought. Rudi tried to catch Sarge up on what all had been said, trying to make sense of it all himself. He then stood and left the table to check on Joey.
Marta stood and said, “I don’t know the feelings of everyone in this room, but I for one am in agreement with Hilde. Any who feel differently may consider themselves no longer under our previous agreement.”
“I don’t get it. What’s wrong with him being Jewish?” Stefan asked Lars.
“Nothing,” Lars replied. He glanced over at Rudi. “We’ve protected him pretty well, I’d say.”
Harold looked down at his half eaten food. “I wish I was.”
Stefan frowned. “I’m the same age as Harold. I have a right to know what’s going on, even if I’m only a private.”
“Back to what I was going to say earlier,” Lars cut in. Stefan narrowed his eyes and crossed his arms. “Adler, I was just curious to know if you knew the Cohen family. They were neighbors of mine before the war broke out. They escaped the ghettos and we don’t know where they went. We were kinda hoping they made it out.”
“Sorry, can’t help you. Do you know how many Cohen families there are in New York? And how many migrated over to escape your maniac leader?”
“I won’t even try to guess.”
Marta cleared her throat. “Why don’t we finish our supper and choose a new topic to discuss?”
The others nodded and returned to the table. Again, all was silent except an occasional grunt from Joey.
Stefan and Harold placed their dishes in the sink and headed for the door.
“Where are they going?” Sarge asked.
Rudi smiled. “To star gaze. It’s sort of a routine for us now. It’s a way to stay sane in all the madness.”
That could have gotten very ugly! Tomorrow, we will take a short break from the story to enjoy the sounds of the season! Then the next day, we will return for the next to last part of Stille Nacht!
Merry Christmas (three days, y’all!)
Hello and welcome to day 8 of The 12 Days of Christmas! Click here for more Christmas fun!
And now, we return to Germany for part five of Stille Nacht. Let’s see how our warring soldiers are getting along…
Part Five: Christmas Dinner
Marta took the pot from over the fire and placed it on the table. “Everyone have a seat!” Marta and Hilde sat on a bench together at the head of the table. Lars, Harold, and Stefan sat on one side of the table, Sarge, Adler, and Rudi on the other.
“Join me in prayer, please.”
The soldiers bowed their heads and Marta began to pray.
Rudi whispered, “We thank You, Lord, for bringing us together peacefully in this terrible war.”
Adler glanced at him, then closed his eyes once more as Rudi continued to translate Marta’s prayer. “Please bless this dinner and the little things that we have tonight. Help us to promise to be friendly to each other if at all possible, Lord. And let this terrible war end, so we can all go home very soon…”
Rudi’s voice cracked and he turned his face away. Adler stared hard at his plate as Rudi finished, “…In Jesus Holy Name I pray, Amen.”
No one spoke or made a move to dish out the food. Sarge glanced over at Lars in time to see him swipe at his eyes. Harold wasn’t even attempting to hide his feelings, though he remained quiet as ever. Sarge exhaled deeply as he felt moisture trailing down his own cheeks.
Hilde looked up at her mother. “Why are they crying?”
Stefan stood and stepped away from the table, fumbling in his pocket for a kerchief as he opened the door. When he returned, he mumbled, “Sure is cold outside,” hoping no one would notice his flushed face.
Adler cleared his throat as the food, at last, was passed around. “Um, Rudi, ask Harold who he’s got at home waiting for him, will ya?”
Rudi smiled and told Harold what Adler had said. Harold stared at Adler for a moment, stunned that he was talking to him. “I…um…my mother…and three sisters. I don’t know where Willi and Papa are. You?”
Adler nodded slowly, chewing a bite of bratwurst. “My wife and twins I haven’t met yet. A boy and girl.”
Rudi swallowed a bite of food before informing Harold of Adler’s answer.
Stefan looked up. “Twins? I’m a twin!” He clamped his hand over his mouth. His mother had told him never to mention that over the last few years. Why, he wasn’t sure.
Lars patted his shoulder. “No one will tell your secret, Stefan. We like you too much.”
“What’s the big deal with being a twin?” Sarge asked once the exchange had been translated.
Lars looked at Rudi and said something. Rudi grimaced. “We have a leader with some very strange curiosities. Hitler has had numerous tests done on twins…I don’t know the extent, but if one is a twin, they keep quiet about it.” He jerked his head toward Stefan. “He doesn’t know anything about that. I grew up with his older brother and I promised I’d sorta shield him.”
“Is there no end to that moron’s madness?” Adler muttered, taking another bite of soup.
Rudi lowered his head. “Perhaps, along with war, we should ban his name from conversation too.”
“I’m for that!” Sarge agreed.
Stefan began to cough again, his whole body shuddering. Marta stood and came to his side, offering him more water. “What’s wrong with him?” Adler asked.
“Lung infection,” Rudi replied. “We have no medicine for him.”
Adler winced as Stefan pressed a blood spotted handkerchief to his mouth. “How long has he been like that?”
“About a week now,” Rudi said as Stefan stepped away from the table. “I don’t know what to do for him.”
Adler glanced at Sarge, then stood and left the table. He rummaged through his pack. “Aha, here's where you’ve been hiding.” He pulled out a small glass bottle and held it over his head in triumph. In French, he asked Marta for a spoon.
Adler measured out a dose of the liquid in the bottle. Lars narrowed his eyes and glanced at Rudi. “What is that?” Rudi asked as Adler walked toward Stefan.
“It’s some medicine that I can’t pronounce, but I had a lung infection last month and this stuff helped. Some housewife in France gave it to me.”
Lars reached for the bottle and scanned the label. “Hmm!” He nodded and Adler helped Stefan somehow get the medicine down without spewing it everywhere.
Lars handed the bottle back to Adler. “No, y’all keep that,” Adler said, pushing the bottle back into Lars’ hands.
Rudi tried to translate. “What does y’all mean?”
“You all,” Sarge said with a laugh. “It’s a word from my part of the States. I guess I’m rubbing off on Adler.”
“Well, you’ve picked up a few things from me too,” Adler defended. “Like eating bagels for one, hmm!”
Lars looked at Adler as they all sat back down at the table. “Bagels? Rudi, ask this man if he is Jewish.”
Oh, dear! Sounds like trouble might be brewing! Tune in tomorrow to see what happens next!
Christian. American. Southern. Author.