Still, Aldrich was affected by the war — and was disappointed in himself for not playing a greater role. After the Battle of Fredericksburg, the 26-year old wrote a poem to commemorate the event (much like his friend William Dean Howells would do after the Battle of Lookout Mountain):
The increasing moonlight drifts across my bed,
And on the churchyard by the road, I know
It falls as white and noiselessly as snow...
'T was such a night two weary summers fled;
The stars, as now, were waning overhead.
Listen! Again the shrill-lipped bugles blow
Where the swift currents of th river flow
Past Fredericksburg; far off in the heavens are red
With sudden conflagration; on yon height,
Linstock in hand, the gunners hold their breath;
A signal rocket pierces the dense night,
Flings its spent stars upon the town beneath:
Hark! — the artillery massing on the right,
Hark! — the black squadrons wheeling down to Death!