Lydia Hamilton Smith, born in Gettysburg, Pa., was the daughter of an African-American mother and an Irish father. When donations withered away for Civil War veterans, she used her own earnings. Lydia was born and died on Valentine’s Day.
There’s Lydia; you may catch a glimpse of her
among the burning leaves of mid July.
She guides her horse with water wagon farther
through Gettysburg where men are marked to die.
Alive, propped there by tree or dead, he sprawls;
alone and broken, now he dreams of mother.
He has no answer for the muster’s call
nor may this soldier rise to go with brother.
See, there! She will approach with radiance.
An Angel sent, she slowly moves through slaughter.
Through humid, misty tears she will entrance.
Puts parch`ed lips to cups of cool, cool water.
She walks among the brave with steamy eyes
and roams among the battle’s misbegotten.
Her horse now stamps his feet to break the silence.
She moves among the dying and forgotten.