Well, I am afraid this is where the campaign trail ends for now, still so very early in our story. "Lebanon Two" finishes but the first twenty-four hours of Scott and Ron's excellent adventure, with a week of travel still to be told. There are innumerable discoveries and revelations ahead. We have yet to learn anything in particular about John Wesley Hargrave. Who was he really? (And for that matter, who was I?) Were the places he marched and fought still to be found at all?
And as I leave things here, were we not about to begin our search for Hoover's Gap, an all but forgotten battlefield, unmarked, somewhere astride Interstate 24, where the modern world roared by undeterred? Incredible things happened there, at Hoover's Gap, but would we find the place? Could we find the spot where these epic men actually stood?
And we have yet to travel south along the Manchester Pike; yet to sleep on the banks of the Tennessee River--below a giant neon sign reading "Big Daddy Fireworks". There has been no wallowing in the dirt and grime, no sweat and heat at the Chickamauga battle reenactment; no black powder and half crazed, middle-aged men storming about, with loaded guns, all believing themselves to be John Wayne.
And I have not told of our visit to the grand battlefield of Chickamauga--of standing at Alexander's Bridge at midnight, with the moon reflecting off a slow, oily brown river, and every ghost that ever walked the fields and woods there, whispering to us of the sorrow of that place. We would stand too, eventually, in the West Viniard Field, where Wilder and his men mowed down line after line of attacking Confederate boys. The marble and granite monuments commemorating that work were all there, placed in neat regimental rows, in a field of long uncut grass. One couldn't stand on that ground without thinking solemn thoughts. And it was in those places that the haunting verse from a poem I knew come back to me time and time again. Written by another man, in another war, passing by the ruins of Homer's Troy on the way to Gallipoli, a frightened and confused young soldier had penned these lines:
Was it so hard, Achilles,
So very hard to die?
Thou knowest and I know not -
So much the happier I
Yes my friends, these are the shadows of things to come, and if not for the inconvenient, interrupting circumstances of this modern day life they might all be told to you now. But have patience and persevere (join the mailing list for future updates). Eventually we will visit Stones River, Hoover's Gap, Chickamauga, and a place called Leet's Tanyard. Incredibly, too, the young face of one John Wesley Hargrave will be rediscovered. We will climb Lookout Mountain; we will relive the grisley heroics at Franklin, Tennessee; then eventually return home again to a family in California.
Until such time that this journey continues, I bid you all a most friendly adieu.