Thomas, a Confederate soldier but not truly believing in the Southern Cause, is trying desperately to survive the worst two days of his life at the Battle of Shiloh in 1862.
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The Life He Never Knew
Thomas has war fever in 1862 as he marches toward the Yankee invaders in Tennessee. But his accidental run into a beautiful Southern Belle makes him question his own motives for being in the war, his thoughts on slavery, secession, and his own death. Troubled by his emotions and in learning of the death of one of his brothers at Wilson's Creek, he is also wounded in a small skirmish with Louisiana Unionists. Now only being carried by the camaraderie of his fellow Texas soldiers, he and his regiment march toward southern Tennessee to meet an unknown Northern enemy next to a small community and church named Shiloh, where Thomas will learn what it means to give all you can for your country. Will Thomas survive the battle to make it home again, or will this be the life he never knew?
The shallow grave was fresh. It was only a foot and a half deep but it would have to do. There were too many bodies lying around to give them a proper burial, but hopefully this would keep the buzzards and hogs away, at least until the fall rains. When the downpours eroded away the mounds of dirt, and the corpses would once again be exposed to the elements, and their horrible rot could once again be smelled, that was when the carnivores would move in for their meals. The woolen sack coats would be no match for sharp beaks and talons, and razor-like teeth and tusks.
It was if Thomas was floating, looking down upon a sea of dead at Wilson’s Creek. Men were digging holes next to the bodies of those that had fallen; the work had been going on for the last couple of days. The August heat had already bloated many of the corpses. Just over five hundred men had been killed on both sides combined, but there was no way to tell that for sure. It could have been thousands for all he knew. The entire field was covered. The gravediggers patted down another plot and moved to the next body. Their work began on another small hole for one of the dead; they would copy this procedure over and over again. This one lay on his side—a minie ball had pierced his chest and blood had poured into his lungs, causing him to suffocate on the field. Now that same blood had stained the green grass all around him. There was no mourning this man, not today. That would be done by some distant family back in his home town, their memory of him never diminishing, only time being able to comfort their loss.
The man looked familiar to Thomas, like he’d known him in his past. But the dirt and grime and blood had made him nearly unrecognizable. The soldiers grabbed him by the arms and legs, which didn’t give much as rigor mortis was setting in. Laying him in the shallow grave, they were forced to pop and break the limbs to fit him in the tight hole. Thomas saw his face, which was now staring up at him. It was his brother. As shovel-loads of dirt were being splashed across him, Thomas seemed to swoop down closer and closer still, face to face with his dead brother. The eyes opened and stared at him for a moment. A blood-stained hand made its way through the soft dirt and reached toward him, grabbing his suspender strap.