Snake Hill by Stan Skrzeszewski

snake
Bodies of 28 U.S. soldiers were found at Snake Hill in 1987 and repatriated to Bath National Cemetery in Bath, NY.

Snake Hill is a hill that was
If you look for it you won’t find it
Where it stood, houses now stand
But no longer on a hill
There are no snakes, no hill
On Snake Hill

There is no plaque to identify the once sandy outcrop
But the space it occupied is still there
Right on Lake Erie
Where it rushes into the Niagara River

The sense of courage, agony and death
Still lingers there,
Two hundred years ago
Brave British Regiments
Including the Poles of De Watteville
Charged Towson’s Battery
And the brave American soldiers
Occupying Fort Erie
And that sandy hill
Repulsed them
But not before many died
Before Snake Hill
Some floated down the river
Many are buried
Beneath the stone monument
“Pro Patria”

Yet, I wonder
Did some swim the river?
Fight the current
Escape the bullets
Make that choice
For freedom
Some would have failed
Wounded, they drowned
But I hope at least one made it
Made that return trip
Got on that Freedom Train
Followed that Southern Cross
To a new life

Source: Stan Skrzeszewski. Creative Memories: In Honour of the Polish Soldiers Who Died at the Battle of Fort Erie. London, Ont. : Stan Skrzeszewski, 2015

See other poems from Creative Memories

Stan Skrzeszewski is a writer of poetry, short stories, plays and even one libretto. He also serves as a curator at the Orlinski Museum and Archives of the Polish Armed Forces. In another life, Stan was a librarian, management consultant and a facilitator of philosopher’s cafes. The son of a Polish Veteran and Scottish War Bride, he feels a passionate need to record history.

Read about the Attack on Snake Hill

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