Welcome to the History Corner!
Celebrating the rich history of Port Byron, New York, an old Erie Canal village in the Town of Mentz. This site is dedicated to the legacy and heritage of our community as well as a variety of regional historical tidbits. I hope you enjoy your visit and will stop by again.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Girl I Left Behind Me

Next summer we will be honoring Capt. John Lockwood who was one of our local civil war soldiers who died at the age of 20 as a POW.  In doing research on our soldier, I found a poem written by another soldier who enlisted at the age of 14 from Wolcott, NY.  He enlisted as a private and climbed the ranks to Full Sergeant.  His record can be found under the name of Adam Michael which reports his age at enlistment as 18.  Perhaps he said he was a bit older so that they would take him to serve, like so many other young men did at that time.

Adam Michel wrote a poem before he left home to serve in Company C of the NY 75th Infantry.  He sent the poem to his sister Katie.  He would also become a POW being sent to Libby Prison in Richmond before being transferred to Salisbury Prison in North Carolina where he died of starvation, never returning to see the girl he so candidly wrote about in his poem.  According to the 1942 Cato Citizen, his burial site is not known.  Adam Michel died in December 1864 just two months after our soldier. 

The poem sends a universal message for those that serve their Country to engage in the defense of our freedoms, yet not knowing what fate has in store for them.  All soldiers leave someone behind.

In the memory of those that have never returned, I share the words written nearly 150 years ago from such a courageous young man:
'Tis many days since I left home
    To join our glorious army,
I thought but of my Country's call
    And not of what might harm me:
I vowed to join both hearth and hand,
    Where duty called you'll find me,
I left my home and shed a tear
    For the girl I left behind me.

To meet the foe was my desire
    Upon the field of battle,
The Union States my battle cry,
    While cannons thunders rattle.
But while I'm fighting for my flag
    And dust and smoke do blind me,
I'll not forget to give one thought
    To the girl I left behind me.

Oh, when rebellion is crushed out
    And traitors slain or taken,
The Stars and Stripes will shine more bright
    And joy each heart awaken.
The horrors of grim war will flee
    Like troubled dreams remind me.
How sweet to know I'll meet once more
    The girl I left behind me.

Surrounded now by friends and kin,
    Who smile, weep and caress me,
I watched the tears of joy that flow
    As each dear one doth bless me.
But there is one who moves my soul,
    My tears now almost blind me;
God grant I'll be obliged no more
    To leave my girl behind me.