My presence apparently checked the performance of another verse, beginning, “De buckra ‘list for money,” apparently in reference to the controversy about the pay-question, then just beginning, and to the more mercenary aims they attributed to the white soldiers.
But “Hangman Johnny” remained always a myth as inscrutable as “Becky Lawton
As they learned all their songs by ear, they often strayed into wholly new versions, which sometimes became popular, and entirely banished the others.
This was amusingly the case, for instance, with one phrase in the popular camp-song of “Marching along,” which was entirely new to them until our quartermaster taught it to them, at my request.
The words, “Gird on the armor,” were to them a stumbling-block, and no wonder, until some ingenious ear substituted, “Guide on de army,” which was at once accepted, and became universal.
We'll guide on de army, and be marching along
is now the established version on the Sea
These quaint religious songs were to the men more than a source of relaxation; they were a stimulus to courage and a tie to heaven.
I never overheard in camp a profane or vulgar song.
With the trifling exceptions given, all had a religious motive, while the most secular melody could not have been more exciting.
A few youths from Savannah
, who were comparatively men of the world, had learned some of the “Ethiopian Minstrel” ditties, imported from the North
These took no