2005 marked my first visit to the annual Antietam Battle Field Fourth of July celebration. Accompanied by my fiancé, Steve Wright, we, and thousands like us, carried our picnic dinners through the scenic fields that had once been the grounds of a nightmarish bloodbath. After the event, 35,000 people hiked out of the battlefield in the dark. Car headlights sifted eerily through firework and cannon smoke. Occasionally a re-enactor wandered by, dressed in Confederate or Union uniform. The thousands of celebrants carrying picnic gear reminded me of the soldiers who had marched down that road in the 1860's, and I said so, out loud. Just then, a Confederate private appeared on my left, in the mist, walking next to a family dressed in shorts and t-shirts. He looked at me with a ghastly expression of disbelief. I turned away to tell Steve about the Confederate apparition. Steve replied, "There is a Union soldier also". When I looked back, they had both vanished. Thus began the composition of a Civil War ghost story.
Chorus: Warrior spirit, find your way home
Ghost of a soldier left all alone
Follow the wind wherever it blows
And leave your body with the Keeper of the Bones
He marched off to war with a new band of gold
To spin around his finger, to have and to hold onto
Sweet memories, into battle he roamed
To fight and to win and go home
When rolling hills exploded in flashes so bright
His rifle and his shoulder were shattered in the light
He held on to the pain, oh the only thing
He thought of his wife and reached for his ring
But his right hand fumbled blindly in smoky haze
Through blood stained lashes he steadied his gaze
On one shining circle in a world grown dim
Five feet away, his ring reached back for him
A distant bugle sounded but what did it say?
He saw thousands of soldiers, the blue and the gray
Leave his broken body as they all marched away
He thought, "If I am dead, is it too late to pray?"
He called out for his wife when he saw the stranger's face
She was bandaging his shoulder with a tourniquet of lace
Through his fever she told him, "You surely are blessed,
Your left arm is gone, but your wounds have been dressed."
He said, "Woman of Mercy, I try but can not guess
Why if I am alive, why I alone was left."
She placed his wedding ring on his chest, saying
"They can't help you now. Hold onto this and rest"
"I am not one to judge", he said, "but trouble's on my mind.
Only soldiers without honor would leave a man behind.
I watched them go....". She said, "Don't believe your eyes.
You only saw their spirits, for all but one man died.
I am the Keeper of the Bones. You are the one left alive
The only one"
And leave their bodies with the Keeper of the Bones
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