A Tribute To Simeon Ikins On July 3rd*
Simeon Ikins was the brother of Mary Ann Ikins, who married George Esse, my great, great grandfather on my mother’s side. Simeon served in a New York regiment in the Union Army in the Civil War. He was mortally wounded by shrapnel from the Confederate cannonade before Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg on the third day of the battle, July 3, 1863. This poem tells the story of my visit to his grave in the Gettysburg graveyard where Abraham Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address. I’ve written music for it but not yet recorded the song.
Simeon, I’ve found you. I’ve walked a long, long way
To find the place they laid you on your last gruesome day.
Pickett’s men came charging, with chilling Rebel Yell
But you held your position, though, like you, thousands fell.
You stood up to cannons in Gettysburg’s hot sun.
Though in the hail of grapeshot, Lee thought you’d turn and run.
Then the shrapnel hit you and left your arm a shred
And then came the infection and soon you would be dead.
Lie peacefully in honor; you stood fast, though afraid,
Fighting for the Union, your life the price you paid.
Lie peacefully in honor; you stood for liberty.
The Union held together and men, once slaves, are free.
They laid you in this graveyard with thousands more interred.
Then Lincoln paid you homage with each immortal word.
And today I’ve found you to honor what you’ve done
And though I stand in silence, I came to say, “We won.”
I pray you hear me tell you, “Simeon, we won.”
Stephen Baird, 2010
*Pickett’s Charge – Simeon Ikins had received his mortal wound before this stage of the battle. There were over 50,000 casualties in this three day battle. 28% of the Union soldiers and 37% of Confederates were wounded or killed. More soldiers were killed in the Civil War (~650,000) than all our other wars combined.