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from GLORY: THE CIVIL WAR SONNETS/ Ryan Van Cleave Robert Franklin Crooke was born Januany 16, 1834, outside Boston, Massachusetts. Orphaned at birth, he was taken in by Old Aggie Winthrop, a recently widowed woman who thought a charitable act such as raising an orphan would guarantee her salvation. She died ofinfluenza in 1865. Though Robert didn't attend school, Aggie taught him writing and arithmetic at home when he wasn't working shifts at the localfactories . He used the money he earned there to make a smallfortune as a sutler (government-licensed seller ofgoods) during thefirst years of the war. His shop was the back ofan old wagon that he drovefrom camp to camp, bartering and selling his wares (as often stolen as not) for whatever price they wouldfetch. Late 1862 was a time when weariness of the war had brought volunteering to a halt, and untutored young immigrants were seen as potential cannon fodder. Three men, mistaking Robertfor a German immigrant, threw a rucksack over his head, stole his civilian clothes and all of his money, and "enlisted" him in the 68th Pennsylvania Infantry, where he had no choice but to serve out the remainder ofthe war as afoot soldier. In 1866, Robert began Crooke's Shipping Company out of Hart's Island, New York, and he made anotherfortune, which lasted until his death in 1871, after a long bout with consumption. 20 · The Missouri Review CAPITALISM/Ryan Van Cleave Rocked by the whirling elements, wind, rain shower, even a bout of knuckle-sized hail, they need me. A chattering cold Oklahoma boy who'd joined up with 104th Pennsylvania, he needed his own tent. Can't stand that spooning, this boy said. The nights are like bruises—a long time going away. Swapped a tattered fly tent for two pipes and his brother's hand-me-down gold chain. A train chuffs in the distance, and I've enough from this week's trades to live a month in New York, but the memory of poorness sweats through me like night chills, and I know I won't stop, not 'til the mortars or muskets claim me or I've so much money I can wallpaper a mansion with it. The Missouri Review · 21 GRANT DEFEATED at BELMONT, MONOVEMBER 1861/Ryan Van Cleave Into the black string of days, I brought A tents, bee gum hats, tobacco plugs, hardtack, fresh cush, playing cards, everything a soldier could want. Though I made money enough to fill my parents' graves, mine was a forgotten name among men who lived each moment in blood. Old Aggie once told me that all the riches in the world are fool's gold if you can't plant a row of corn in the ground and call it yours and yours alone. By the sputtering light of a sperm candle, I saw Grant himself, how his yellow eyes shone like the North Star's own ghost. Sitting atop an overturned wagon, he was a man quietly asking God for help, as only he knew how. 22 · The Missouri Review 104TH OHIO INFANTRY/Ryfln Van Cleave Or as they were better known, the Barking Dog Regiment. They baked bread on a broken piece of flat iron from a rubbish heap and cooked beef by dangling it over fire on sticks or ramrods, so for sure I emptied my supply wagon in no time. I soon took a liking to Harvey, one of three dog mascots, whose tag read, I am Lieutenant D. M. Stearns' dog. Whose dog are you? Harvey'd survived three major skirmishes so far—I near could feel the luck like electricity on his old black tail. I fed Colonel, Teaser, and him handfuls of cush when the men weren't looking—had a good dog myself once, but he got caught in the thresher. The Missouri Review · 23 DOGROBBER/Ryan Van Cleave Not in the army five days and already a dogrobber, and no meat. Nothing but two dead mules infested real good with yellow worms. We caught eight rats in an outhouse—yanked the skin right off the tails of two trying to grab them— but they buttered and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 20-27
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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