In glades they meet skull after skull
Where pine-cones lay–the rusted gun,
Green shoes full of bones, the mouldering coat
And cuddled-up skeleton;
And scores of such. Some start as in dreams,
And comrades lost bemoan:
By the edge of those wilds Stonewall had charged–
But the Year and the Man were gone.
When William Hanlin and the men from Connecticut step into the Wilderness on May 5, 1864, they step into an almost impassible snarl of secondary growth – briars, thorns, brambles – under a heavy tangle of budding tree branches. Worse, the armies had fought in the same area almost exactly a year earlier, as Herman Melville points out above, skulls and mouldering coats were scattered everywhere.