This poem is remarkable not for any direct relationship to the War but for its author, Union General William Haines Lytle. Although Lytle had hoped for a military career, family preference propelled him into the law. After volunteering during the Mexican War, he returned to his native Ohio and served as a State Democratic legislator. When the War broke out, Lytle again volunteered and received an appointment as a major general of Ohio militia. Shortly thereafter, he became colonel of the 10th Ohio and was eventually named a brigadier general of U.S. volunteers.

Lytle was mortally wounded during the Battle of Chickamauga in mid-September 1863, one of many officers who lost their lives that day. But no loss was felt as keenly on both sides of the line as Lytle's. In addition to being a lawyer and a legislator, he was also a nationally recognized poet, who had a tremendous following in the South as well as in the North. As word of Lytle's passing spread across the battlefield, Confederate soldiers made their way to what is now known as Lytle Hill to pay their respects to a man whose works many of them knew by heart. The Southerners who had taken the hill posted a guard over Lytle's body, and (as John Bowers relates in Chickamauga and Chattanooga: The Battles That Doomed the Confederacy) "That night officers sat around campfires and recited favorite lines from Antony and Cleopatra. Many an eye was misty. Not many throats stayed dry."

My thanks to Dave Smith of the Cincinnati Civil War Round Table for finding this poem and taking the time to type it out and send it to me.

"Antony and Cleopatra"

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Last modified 16-April-2001