Lydia Hamilton Smith, born in Gettysburg, Pa., was the daughter of an African-American mother and an Irish father. When donations wither away for Civil War veterans, she uses her own earnings to help them. Lydia was born and died on Valentine’s day.
There’s Lydia; we catch a glimpse of her
among the burning leaves of mid July.
She guides her horse with water wagon where,
through fields of Gettysburg, men marked to die.
The men lie, propped by tree or death’s cold stare.
Alone and broken. All their dreams are gone;
they cannot answer captain’s muster call
nor may they rise again so proud and strong.
See, there! She now approaches where they fall;
one lonely figure sent as spirit’s daughter.
A humid, misty morning all embrace.
Put dying lips to cups of cool, cool water.
She weaves among the souls who’ve lost all grace;
who lie among the battle’s latest fodder.
Her horse now stamps his foot as mid their cries
she is the angel hears their final sighs.