For Momma - Memorial Slide Show (Turn Playlist Music off before watching)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Where does your inspiration come from? Continued

“During the night we
slept among the dead”

Like a window suddenly blown open during a storm, these words written by my great great great grandfather 195 years ago, drew me in to the world of genealogy. My Uncle had discovered the letter in some papers that my Grandparents had. Of course, not being able to read German made the letter with a date of 1814 intriguing to say the least. A cousin was able to transcribe the letter. Behrend Oltman Onnen's letter revealed the horrors and sadness of the war with Napoleon's French Army. Behrend was 21 years old when he wrote this letter to his family in Ostfriesland, Germany.

“Dear Parents, Brothers and Sisters,

"Now I want to tell you about our march from Wangrenie to Paris. On the morning of June 15th at seven o'clock we marched against the Frenchmen and there was artillery fire all around us and we could notice the Frenchmen coming closer to us and toward evening we were very close together, we had our quarters under the stars that night. This was the first day.”

“On the 16th of June in the morning at 5 o'clock we marched beyond the village where the battle took place, in the afternoon at 2 o'clock we marched to the village and got into fighting immediately and came so close to each other that we fought them by hand and took them prisoners.

“Bullets flew like hail from heaven and a person should think it impossible that anybody would survive, but the hands of the Almighty can protect and save you. Toward evening we were really in a mess, we were of the opinion reinforcements would move up, but instead they were Frenchmen. It was impossible to retreat, but fortunately we got out of the squeeze. We dispersed in groups of six and seven men. On the 17th we got together again and there were not too many missing.

“On the 18th the shooting began again and in the afternoon at three o'clock we got orders to march on, There was heavy artillery fire and it was toward evening when we reached the real battlefield.

“Here General Bülow got behind Bonaparte's army and soon all shooting stopped. We marched over battlefields which were a terrible sight, left and right there were wounded screaming and shouting, and dead ones not by the tens or twenties but by the hundreds and thousands.

“During the night we slept among the dead ones and I wondered whose heart was not touched, hearing and seeing such lamenting and sorrow. I have witnessed it and seen it with my own eyes.” (Letter to be continued in my next post.)

I wonder how many years it took him to forget the horrible things he witnessed or if he ever did.
Join me again when the letter continues on to the events of June 19, 1814.

1 comment:

  1. It is fascinating reading. The language is so descriptive. I look forward to reading the rest. They endured and witnessed many awful things.



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