Private Elmer Babcock: A Short Story

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The heat, sweltering; a bead of sweat runs from his brow mixing and smearing the dirt and powder residue on his cheek. Gunfire erupts, he looks. Hundreds of Indian braves smash into a thin blue line of cavalry Soldiers. His eyes track left to right--smoke, dust, rugged Earth. The light wind ruffles his unkempt brown hair. Those hazel eyes that had often shined in the life he’s lived were now constricted--scared. In this moment he realizes that this is the fight of his life. Private Elmer Babcock is just 20 years old. He pulls a rifle cartridge from his belt; it fumbles; it falls. The reflections on the brass morph and shift as it whips downward. It hits the ground, rebounding until it settles in a pile of spent casings.

On a sweeping ridge along the Little Bighorn River near Hardin Montana a
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Its inscription reads, “U.S. SOLDIER; 7th CAVALRY; FELL HERE, JUNE 25, 1876.” The idea that washed over me as to who this gentleman must have been is indescribable. Surely in life he had a name? In death he now remains nameless. The depressive feelings of who this gentleman was caught me off guard. That moment stuck with me, standing there next to a single monument which collectively made up an entire collection of human travesty. I eventually walked back and continued my exploration but I resounding sadness stayed with me. I began to see the desolate desperation of it all. I began to understand the scope of this place. I guess in a way a Soldier can always understand the life of another Soldier. The people really never change, just the times. It caused me to reflect on my military experiences greatly; the pain, the suffering, the life and the death. The man who once resided at that marker might not have been much different than me. Maybe he had a wife, kids, and aspirations. Maybe we would even have been friends if the timelines weren’t skewed by several generations but 139 years ago there he lay; wounded, scared, and
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