The Eight

I stood today near where it began
The now silent fortress sitting in the bay
From the Battery I gazed across the cold water
Here started this country’s darkest hours

During this time would be heroes and villains
Grand assaults and horrific slaughter
Time and again as the generals maneuvered
‘Twas the common soldier carrying forth the colors

They matched onto fields in hundreds and thousands
Did what was asked and died with honor
Saw death many times and yet still not faltered
At the command “March”, they stepped bravely forward

Of eight of these I wish now to speak
Volunteers all for a new kind of venture
Soldier and sailor pulled together as one crew
They would bring into the world a new kind of war

This new weapon had claimed the lives of two crews
Some from the first and all from the second
Still these eight men stepped within it again
Trained and worked hard until all was ready

On a still night in February of ’64
They closed the hatches and began the long trek
Thoughts of home and loved ones surely there
Their hopes and dreams driving them forward

Slipping unseen toward its target miles offshore
This small iron warship moved steadily on
Hands on the crank, sweat pouring from their brows
They had to succeed, they had to get home

The shadow of the Housatonic arose on the horizon
One of the newest steamships of the enemy fleet
What a prize she would be if all went well
To see her disappear beneath the waves

Forward they cranked as hard as they could
Shots rang out from the decks but to no avail
On came this dark object below in the sea
Not stopping or slowing from what could be seen

The harpoon type hook on the charge fastened hold
The end of the spar buried deep in the wooden hull
The crew now reversed as quick as they could
Rope feeding out from a newly rigged spool

The rope came to an end and jerked taut on the charge
A horrendous explosion broke the stillness of the night
A gaping hole had been ripped in the hull
In minutes this ship was sinking below

Victory belonged to this eight man crew
Their bravery and courage had held them true
Against all odds their mission was success
Elated yet tired it was time to go home

Watch parties on shore holding silent vigils
Saw the explosions far offshore
A while later a blue light was seen
From a lantern onboard to say we’re coming home

Bonfires were lit to show them the way
To guide the tired crew on their trip back to port
All eyes to the sea, they waited and watched
For the first sign of the victors coming back home

But it seems fate had different ideas on its mind
For the Atlantic called their names that night
Ghosts from hundreds of shipwrecks beckoned them join
They disappeared below the waves and never came home

The wind off the bay chills me this day
But to them how much icier it must have been
Buried so long just 30 feet down
Now my friends, you’re home

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