Appendix: songs of the war days

Edited by jeanne Robert foster

‘When Johnny comes marching home’ The most popular war-time song of the mustered-out men—thus they looked as they marched home from trenches and forts, from bloody battlefields, from hospital and prison—back to city, town, and countryside

If a man were permitted to make all the ballads, he need not care who should make the laws of a nation.
Andrew Fletcher


‘Success to the Alabama The English manor house to which Admiral Semmes repaired after the famous battle-his chief officer, Captain Kell, is standing at the extreme right.

In this charming photograph of Milbrook Manor House near Southampton, England, appears a scene of 1864 at the quiet country-place to which Admiral Semmes of the Confederate warship, Alabama, and his chief executive officer, Captain Kell, retired for rest and recuperation after the loss of their vessel in the battle with the U. S. S. Kearsarge off the coast of France. On the right of the picture is Captain Kell, convalescing from his wound in this green, shaded retreat. Exquisitely rendered by the camera are the hoopskirts, the flowing scarfs, and the old-fashioned blouses of the women in the picture. Under a glass the detail comes out with startling reality, and for a moment the atmosphere of the place and the time is restored. The beautiful, vine-clad manor house, with the quaint group of women, bring back to remembrance the history of the cruiser and of the Kearsarge, and the bravery of the men who fought during the most dramatic naval battle.

[341] [342]

There is a strange, magical power in songs that spring from the hearts of men passing through great and passionate experience—the power to gather together again in after years a mirage of the emotions that begot them—a remembrance of the enthusiasm that incited men to perilous and heroic deeds. The question of actual literary merit has no place in the consideration of these war-songs; they were chronicles of events; they achieved universality, and on the field of battle they became the sublime paeans of a national crisis. Their words and melodies deserve a place in our records. The songs of the soldier boys, the spirited marching tunes, the sentimental ballads, the outbursts of fiery patriotism, must remain with us a legacy of unfailing inspiration and delight.

When Johnny comes marching home: Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore

This rousing war-song was the one most sung by the soldiers returning from service.

When Johnny comes marching home again, Hurrah! Hurrah!
We'll give him a hearty welcome then, Hurrah! Hurrah!
The men will cheer, the boys will shout,
The ladies they will all turn out.

And we'll all feel gay,
When Johnny comes marching home.
The old church-bell will peal with joy, Hurrah! Hurrah!
To welcome home our darling boy, Hurrah! Hurrah!
The village lads and lasses say
With roses they will strew the way.

The battlecry of freedom: George Frederick root

One of the best of the many flag songs written during the war.

Yes, we'll rally round the flag, boys, we'll rally once again,
Shouting the battlecry of freedom,
We will rally from the hillside, we'll gather from the plain,
Shouting the battlecry of freedom.

The Union forever, hurrah! boys, hurrah!
Down with the traitor, up with the star,
While we rally round the flag, boys,
Rally once again,
Shouting the battle cry of Freedom.

We are springing to the call of our
brothers gone before,
Shouting the battlecry of freedom.
And we'll fill the vacant ranks with a
million freemen more,
Shouting the battlecry of freedom.

Marching through Georgia

Henry Clay Work
Written in honor of Sherman's famous march from Atlanta to the sea.

Bring the good old bugle, boys, we'll sing another song—
Sing it with a spirit that will start the world along—
Sing it as we used to sing it, fifty thousand strong,
While we were marching through Georgia.

‘Hurrah! Hurrah! we bring the jubilee,
Hurrah! Hurrah! the flag that makes you free!’
So we sang the chorus from Atlanta to the sea,
While we were marching through Georgia.

How the darkeys shouted when they heard the joyful sound!
How the turkeys gobbled which our commissary found!
How the sweet potatoes even started from the ground,
While we were marching through Georgia.


The Southern Marseillaise

A. E. Blackmar, 1861
This was the rallying song of the Confederacy. It was sung throughout the South as early as 1861 while the soldiers were hurried to Virginia.

Sons of the South, awake to glory,
A thousand voices bid you rise,
Your children, wives and grandsires hoary,
Gaze on you now with trusting eyes,
Gaze on you now with trusting eyes;
Your country every strong arm calling,
To meet the hireling Northern band
That comes to desolate the land
Will fire and blood and scenes appalling,
To arms, to arms, ye brave;
Tha avenging sword unsheath!
March on! March on! All hearts resolved on victory or death.
March on! March on! All hearts resolved on victory or death.

Now, now, the dangerous storm is rolling,
Which treacherous brothers madly raise,
The dogs of war let loose, are howling,
And soon our peaceful towns may blaze,
And soon our peaceful towns may blaze.
Shall fiends who basely plot our ruin,
Unchecked, advance with guilty stride
To spread destruction far and wide,
With Southron's blood their hands embruing?
To arms, to arms, ye brave!
Tha avenging sword unsheath!
March on! March on! All hearts resolved on victory or death,
March on! March on! All hearts resolved on victory or death.

Blue coats are over the border

Inscribed to Captain Mitchell.

Air—Blue Bonnets are over the Border.

the old song suggested this; a few lines are borrowed from it.

Kentucky's banner spreads
Its folds above our heads;
We are already famous in story.
Mount and make ready then,
Brave Duke and all his men;
Fight for our homes and Kentucky's old glory.

March! March! Brave Duke and all his men!
Haste, brave boys, now quickly march forward in order!
March! March! ye men of old Kentuck!
The horrid blue coats are over the border.

Morgan's men have great fame,
There is much in a name;
Ours must shine today as it ever has shone!

‘The Southern Marseillaise’

These jolly fellows belong to the Fifth Company of the celebrated Washington Artillery. This was a crack regiment of New Orleans, where the Southern Marseillaise was popular, especially at the opening of the war, when this picture was taken. The young Confederates here are relaxing from discipline over their noonday meal. The frying-pan in the hand of the soldier to the right, also the negligent attitudes, reflect a care-free frame of mind. Their uniforms and accouterments still are spick-span and New. But a few weeks later they distinguished themselves at Shiloh.

As it shines o'er our dead,
Who for freedom have bled:
The foe for their deaths have now got to atone.

The Bonnie blue flag

Harry Macarthy
South Carolina, the first state to secede from the Union, adopted a blue flag bearing a single white star in the center. Almost simultaneously with this change of flag there appeared the spirited song—the Bonnie blue flag.

We are a band of brothers, and native to the soil,
Fighting for the property we gained by honest toil;
And when our rights were threatened, the cry rose near and far,
Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a single star!

Hurrah! Hurrah! for Southern Rights, hurrah!
Hurrah! for the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a single star!

As long as the Union was faithful to her trust,
Like friends and like brothers we were kind, we were just;
But now when Northern treachery attempts our rights to mar,
We hoist on high the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a single star.

Volunteer song

Written for the Ladies' military Fair held at New Orleans, 1861. published in New Orleans Picayune, April 28th, 1861, and sung by the regiments departing for Virginia.


Go soldiers, arm you for the fight,
God shield the cause of Justice, Right;
May all return with victory crowned,
May every heart with joy abound,
May each deserve the laurel crown,
Nor one to meet his lady's frown.


Your cause is good, 'tis honor bright, 'Tis virtue, country, home and right; Then should you die for love of these, We'll waft your names upon the breeze: The waves will sing your lullaby, Your country mourn your latest sigh.

We'll be free in Maryland

Robert E. Holtz
January 30, 1862
During the years of the war nearly every musician was intent on composing a new national song. Of the many compositions offered the public, curiously enough, practically none of the more ambitious attempts survive, while catchy doggerel such as ‘We'll be free in Maryland’ is still sung far and wide.

The boys down south in Dixie's land,
The boys down south in Dixie's land,
The boys down south in Dixie's land,
Will come and rescue Maryland.

If you will join the Dixie band,
Here's my heart and here's my hand,
If you will join the Dixie band;
We're fighting for a home.

We'll rally to Jeff Davis true,
Beauregard and Johnston, too,
Magruder, Price, and General Bragg,
And give three cheers for the Southern flag.

Sleeping for the flag

Henry Clay Work
Henry C. Work's songs shared popularity during the war with the melodies of Stephen foster. sleeping for the flag, Kingdom coming, brave boys are they, and marching through Georgia were sung to glory in the 1860's.

When the boys come home in triumph, brother,
With the laurels they shall gain;
When we go to give them welcome, brother,
We shall look for you in vain.
We shall wait for your returning, brother,
You were set forever free;
For your comrades left you sleeping, brother,
Underneath a Southern tree.

Sleeping to waken in this weary world no more;
Sleeping for your true lov'd country, brother,
Sleeping for the flag you bore.

You who were the first on duty, brother,
When ‘to arms’ your leader cried,—
You have left the ranks forever,
You have laid your arms aside,
From the awful scenes of battle, brother,
You were set forever free;
When your comrades left you sleeping, brother,
Underneath the Southern tree.

We are coming, father Abraham

James Sloan gibbons

This song was written in 1862 just after Lincoln had issued his call for 300,000 volunteers to fill the ranks of the army. It was first printed in the evening post, July 16, 1862 and was afterwards sung by the famous Hutchinson family. Lincoln listened with bowed head to the song at the white House one summer morning in 1864.

We are coming, Father Abraham, three hundred thousand more,
From Mississippi's winding stream and from New England's shore;

[345] We leave our ploughs and workshops, our wives and children dear,
With hearts too full for utterance, with but a single tear;
We dare not look behind us, but steadfastly before:
We are coming, Father Abraham, three hundred thousand more!

We are coming, we are coming, our Union to restore:
We are coming, Father Abraham, three hundred thousand more,
We are coming, Father Abraham, three hundred thousand more.

You have called us, and we're coming, by Richmond's bloody tide
To lay us down, for Freedom's sake, our brothers' bones beside;
Or from foul treason's savage grasp to wrench the murderous blade,
And in the face of foreign foes its fragments to parade.
Six hundred thousand loyal men and true have gone before:
We are coming, Father Abraham, three hundred thousand more!

Song of the Texas rangers

Mrs. J. D. Young

Air: the yellow rose of Texas.

this song was dedicated to Captain Dave Terry, a Texas Ranger, who was conspicuous for bravery in General Wharton's division on the battlefield of Chickamauga. It is said to have been sung by Captain Terry's regiment on the battlefield just previous to the actual engagement.

The morning star is paling; the Camp fires flicker low
Our steeds are madly neighing; for the bugle bids us go:
So put the foot in stirrup and shake the bridle free,
For today the Texas Rangers must cross the Tennessee.
With Wharton for our leader, we'll chase the dastard foe,
Till our horses bathe their fetlocks in the deep, blue Ohio.
'Tis joy to be a Ranger! to fight for dear Southland!
'Tis joy to follow Wharton, with his gallant, trusty band!
'Tis joy to see our Harrison plunge, like a meteor bright,
Into the thickest of the fray, and deal his deadly might.
O! who'd not be a Ranger and follow Wharton's cry!
And battle for his country, and, if needs be, die?

The Alabama

Words by E. King music by F. W. Rasier

While the greater number of naval war songs belongs to the North, crystallizing around the names of Farragut and Winslow, the heroism displayed by the small, scantily equipped Confederate Navy, brought forth several lyrical tributes. This roystering

father Abraham this photograph shows some of the members of the twenty-second New York Infantry, who fought at the Second battle of Bull Run, Antietam, and Chancellorsville. It lost during service eleven officers and sixty-two men killed and mortally wounded and one officer and twenty-eight enlisted men by disease. Notwithstanding, many of these men were among the first to enlist again when Lincoln issued his call for 300,000 volunteers to fill the ranks of the army, a call that gave rise to the famous song of that year, We're coming father Abraham, three hundred thousand strong. here they are at Harper's Ferry in 1862 enjoying the luxury of a visit from a lady whose light gown is attractively spread out over her ample hoop-skirt at the right of the picture. It is interesting to study the formal manner in which the men are holding their rifles, and also the grouping around the drum.

[346] sea-song was dedicated to ‘gallant Admiral Semmes of the Alabama and to the officers and seamen of the C. S. Navy.’

The wind blows off yon rocky shore,
Boys, set your sails all free:
And soon the booming cannon's roar
Shall ring out merrily.
Run up your bunting, caught a-peak,
And swear, lads, to defend her:
'Gainst every foe, where'er we go,
Our motto—‘No surrender.’

Then sling the bowl, drink every soul
A toast to the Alabama,
Whate'er our lot, through storm or shot,
Here's success to the Alabama.

The Southern soldier boy

Air: the boy with the Auburn hair.

as sung by Miss Sallie Partington, in the Virginia Cavalier, Richmond, Va., 1863. composed by Captain G. W. Alexander.

the sentiments of this song pleased the Confederate soldiers, and for more than a year, the New Richmond theater was nightly filled by ‘blockade Rebels,’ who greeted with wild hurrahs, ‘Miss Sallie’ the prima donna of the Confederacy.

Bob Roebuck is my sweetheart's name,
He's off to the wars and gone,
He's fighting for his Nannie dear,
His sword is buckled on;
He's fighting for his own true love,
His foes he does defy;
He is the darling of my heart,
My Southern soldier boy.

Yo! ho! yo! ho! yo! ho! ho! ho! ho! ho! ho!
He is my only joy,
He is the darling of my heart,
My Southern soldier boy.

‘The Zouaves’

J. Howard Wainwright
Published in New York evening post, 1861.

the Zouaves was one of the many spirited songs sung in memory of Col. Ephraim E. Ellsworth, of the New York fire Zouaves. The Brooklyn Zouaves attained a place in history at the first day's battle at Gettysburg, by their efficiency under fire and the bravery of their Colonel.

Onward, Zouaves,—Ellsworth's spirit leads us;
Onward, Zouaves, for our country needs us;
Onward, Zouaves, for our banner floats o'er us;
Onward Zouaves, for the foe is before us.

Onward Zouaves!
Do nothing by halves:
Home to the hilt, with the bay'net, Zouaves.

The songs of Stephen C. Foster

Stephen C. Foster, an American song-writer of Irish descent, was the most famous American folk-song writer of his day. While many of the songs antedate the actual years of the war, they were sung far and wide throughout the struggle and have continued to be popular down to the present day. Half a million copies were sold of Swanee Rubber, and as many more of My old Kentucky home and Massa's in the cold, cold ground.

My old Kentucky home, good night

The sun shines bright in the old Kentucky home;
'Tis summer, the darkeys are gay,
The corn-top “s ripe and the meadow ” s in the bloom,
While the birds make music all the day.
The young folks roll on the little cabin floor,
All merry, all happy and bright;
By-'n-by hard times comes a-knocking at the door:—
Then my old Kentucky home, good-night!

Weep no more, my lady,
Oh! weep no more today!
We will sing one song for the old Kentucky home,
For the old Kentucky home, far away.

Old folks at home

Way down upon de Swanee Ribber,
Far, far away,
Dere's wha my heart is turning ebber,
Dere's wha de old folks stay.
All up and down de whole creation
Sadly I roam,
Still longing for de old plantation,
And for de old folks at home!

All de world am sad and dreary,
Ebery where I roam;
Oh, darkeys, how my heart grows weary,
Far from de old folks at home!

Cheer, boys, cheer

Cheer, boys, cheer was sung by every man who fought in a Southern Kentucky or Tennessee regiment. General Basil Duke in his account of the battle of Shiloh, says— “just as Breckinridge's division was going into action, we came upon the left of it where the Kentucky troops were formed. The bullets commenced to fly thick and fast around us and simultaneously the regiment [347] nearest us struck up the favorite song of the Kentuckians— ‘cheer, boys, cheer.’ the effect was inspiring beyond words.”

several versions of adapted words were sung to the melody of this song. One of the versions was dedicated to Horace Greeley and circulated throughout the north. The original cheer, boys, cheer, has, however, always remained closely identified with Southern sentiment.

Cheer, boys, cheer! no more of idle sorrow;
Courage! true hearts shall bear us on our way;
Hope points before and shows a bright tomorrow,
Let us forget the darkness of today:
Then farewell, England, much as we may love thee,
We'll dry the tears that we have shed before;
We'll not weep to sail in search of fortune;
Then farewell, England, farewell forevermore.

Then cheer, boys, cheer! for England, Mother England.
Cheer boys, cheer for the willing strong right hand;
Cheer, boys, cheer! there's wealth in honest labor;
Cheer, boys, cheer for the new and happy land.

To Canaan

This is an example of the many spontaneous lyrics sung to old tunes,—lyrics that were composed on the spur of occasions and soon afterwards consigned to oblivion.

Where are you going, soldiers,
With banner, gun and sword?
We're marching south to Canaan
To battle for the Lord.
What Captain leads your armies
Along the rebel coasts?
The mighty One of Israel,
His name is Lord of Hosts.

To Canaan, to Canaan,
The Lord has led us forth,
To blow before the heathen walls
The trumpets of the North.

Dixie: the original version

Dixie was first written as a ‘walk-a-round’ by an Ohioan, Dan Emmet, and was first sung in Dan Bryant's minstrel show on Broadway, New York, shortly before the war. It came into martial usage by accident and its stirring strains inspired the regiments on many a battlefield. Curiously enough it was adapted to patriotic words on both sides and remained popular with North and South alike after the struggle was over. Abraham Lincoln loved the tune and considered the fact that it was truly representative of the ‘land of cotton’ far more important than its lack of adherence to the strict laws of technical harmony. Twenty-two versions of the Confederate stanzas set to this famous melody have been collected by the Daughters of the Confederacy.

To Canaan

‘Where are you Going, soldiers, with banner, gun, and sword?’

these soldiers so brilliant in brass buttons and gold braid, with gun and sword, were ‘green Mountain boys,’ members of the Sixth Vermont, stationed at Camp Griffin in 1861. the boy in the picture who stands so sturdily between the men has been enthused by the call of patriotism and hurried away from the mountains to join the army, inspired by the leaping rhythm of war songs like ‘Canaan.’ many youngsters like him never returned to their homes after ‘the trumpets’ had blown their final call.

I wish I was in de land ob cotton,
Old times dar am not forgotten;
Look away, look away, look away, Dixie Land.
In Dixie Land whar I was born in,
Early on one frosty mornin,
Look away, look away, look away, Dixie Land.

Den I wish I was in Dixie,
Hooray! Hooray! [348]
In Dixie Land, I'll took my stand,
To lib and die in Dixie:
Away, away, away, down South in Dixie
Away, away, away, down South in Dixie.


Union adaptation by John Savage—one of the many versions of Dixie sung in the Northern states during the war.

Oh, the Starry Flag is the flag for me;
'Tis the flag of life, 'tis the flag of the free,
Then hurrah, hurrah, for the flag of the Union.
Oh, the Starry Flag is the flag for me.
'Tis the flag of life, 'tis the flag of the free.
We'll raise that starry banner, boys,
Where no power or wrath can face it;

O'er town and field—
The people's shield;
No treason can erase it;
O'er all the land,
That flag must stand,
Where the people's might shall place it.

I goes to fight mit Sigel

‘I goes to fight mit Sigel,’ is the great war-song of our German Civil war patriots, who fought with exceptional bravery for their beloved General and their adopted ‘Fatherland.’

I've come shust now to tells you how,
I goes mit regimentals,
To schlauch dem voes of Liberty,
Like dem old Continentals,
Vot fights mit England long ago,
To save der Yankee Eagle;
Und now I gets my soldier clothes;
I'm going to fight mit Sigel.

When I comes from der Deutsche Countree,
I vorks sometimes at baking;
Den I keeps a lager beer saloon,
Und den I goes shoe making;
But now I was a sojer been
To save der Yankee Eagle;
To schlauch dem tam secession volks,
I'm going to fight mit Sigel.

Tenting on the old Camp ground

Walter Kittridge

No song has been so widely sung since the war as Tenting on the old Camp ground. for memorial day music, it shares honors with soldiers' Farewell.

We're tenting tonight on the old Camp ground,
Give us a song to cheer
Our weary hearts, a song of home,
And friends we love so dear.


Many are the hearts that are weary tonight,
Wishing for the war to cease;
Many are the hearts that are looking for the right,
To see the dawn of peace.
Tenting tonight, tenting tonight,
Tenting on the old Camp ground.

We've been tenting tonight on the old camp ground,
Thinking of days gone by,
Of the loved ones at home that gave us the hand,
And the tear that said ‘Good-bye!’

We are tired of war on the old Camp ground,
Many are dead and gone,
Of the brave and true who've left their homes;
Others been wounded long.

We've been fighting today on the old camp ground,
Many are lying near;
Some are dead and some are dying,
Many are in tears.

We have drunk from the same canteen

Charles Graham Halpine

There are bonds of all sorts in this world of ours,
Fetters of friendship and ties of flowers,
And true lovers' knots, I ween;
The boy and the girl are bound by a kiss,
But there's never a bond, old friend, like this:
We have drunk from the same canteen.

The same canteen, my soldier friend,
The same canteen,
There's never a bond, old friend, like this!
We have drunk from the same canteen.

It was sometimes water, and sometimes milk,
Sometimes applejack, fine as silk,
But whatever the tipple has been,
We shared it together, in bane or bliss,
And I warm to you, friend, when I think of this:
We have drunk from the same canteen.

Gay and happy

Private Henry Putnam, a descendant of Israel Putnam of historic fame, and a member of a New York regiment, wrote home from cold Harbor the day before the battle, “we are quite gay in Camp despite the prospect for battle to-morrow. To-night we [349] have been singing and telling stories around the Camp fire. I send you a paragraph of gay and happy still, which we sang tonight.” the soldier was killed in the trenches the following day by the bullet of a Tennessee rifleman.


We're the boys that's gay and happy,
Wheresoever we may be;
And we'll do our best to please you,
If you will attentive be.


So let the wide world wag as it will,
We'll be gay and happy still,
Gay and happy, gay and happy,
We'll be gay and happy still.


We envy neither great nor wealthy,
Poverty we ne'er despise;
Let us be contented, healthy,
And the boon we dearly prize.


The rich have cares we little know of,
All that glitters is not gold,
Merit's seldom made a show of,
And true worth is rarely told.

The girl I left behind me

Samuel lover

The hour was sad I left the maid, a lingering farewell taking,
Her sighs and tears my steps delay'd, I thought her heart was breaking;
In hurried words her name I bless'd, I breathed the vows that bind me,
And to my heart in anguish press'd the girl I left behind me.

Then to the East we bore away, to win a name in story,
And there where dawns the sun of day, there dawns our sun of glory;
Both blazed in noon on Alma's height, where in the post assign'd me,
I shar'd the glory of that fight, Sweet Girl I Left Behind Me.

One I left there

A Southern song of sentiment that equaled Lorena in popularity during the war.


Soft blows the breath of morning
In my own valley fair,
For it's there the opening roses
With fragrance scent the air,
With fragrance scent the air.
And with perfume fill the air,
But the breath of one I left there
Is sweeter far to me.


Soft fall the dews of evening
Around our valley bowers;
And they glisten on the grass plots
And tremble on the flowers,
And tremble on the flowers
Like jewels rich to see,
But the tears of one I left there
Are richer gems to me.

‘The girl I left’ It is a strange chance of photography that preserved the wistful face of this wartime Yankee Girl at Fort Monroe, gazing from her window, to appear here. For The Girl I left behind me was originally inscribed ‘To a Yankee Girl at Fort Monroe’! The demure lassie here, with the simple parting of the hair, the little bows and knots of ribbon on her dress, the plaid shawl drawn about her arm, the brocaded curtain above her head—all bring back the days that are gone. The jaunty words of the Girl I left behind me bore an undercurrent of sadness, a fear that the waiting sweetheart might by the fortunes of war be condemned to spend a lifetime in unavailing sorrow. The tenderness and pathos of this song have made it live unto a later age. It strikes a note of universal tenderness.


The faded coat of blue

J. H. McNaughton

The faded coat of blue was sung extensively throughout the North during the war, in memory of the lads who were gathered with the bivouac of the dead.

My brave lad he sleeps in his faded coat of blue;
In a lonely grave unknown lies the heart that beat so true;
He sank faint and hungry among the famished brave,
And they laid him sad and lonely within his nameless grave. [350]

No more the bugle calls the weary one,
Rest noble spirit, in thy grave unknown!
I'll find you and know you, among the good and true,
When a robe of white is giv'n for the faded coat of blue.

He cried, ‘Give me water and just a little crumb,
And my mother she will bless you through all the years to come;
Oh! tell my sweet sister, so gentle, good and true,
That I'll meet her up in heaven, in my faded coat of blue.’


This was the great sentimental song of the South during the war period.

The years creep slowly by, Lorena;
The snow is on the grass again;
The sun's low down the sky, Lorena;
The frost gleams where the flowers have been.
But the heart throbs on as warmly now
As when the summer days were nigh;
Oh! the sun can never dip so low
Adown affection's cloudless sky.

A hundred months have passed, Lorena,
Since last I held that hand in mine,
And felt the pulse beat fast, Lorena,
Though mine beat faster far than thine.
A hundred months-'twas flowery May,
When up the hilly slope we climbed,
To watch the dying of the day
And hear the distant church bells chime.

Mother kissed me in my dream

Set to a plaintive melody—the words of this exquisite lyric gave comfort to many a lonely soldier. It is recorded that a wounded private of Colonel Benj. L. Higgins' 86th New York Infantry sang this song to cheer his comrades while they were halted in a piece of woods beyond the memorable wheat-field at Gettysburg, on the morning of July 3d, 1863.

Lying on my dying bed
Throa the dark and silent night,
Praying for the coming day,
Came a vision to my sight.
Near me stood the forms I loved,
In the sunlight's mellow gleam:
Folding me unto her breast,
Mother kissed me in my dream.

Comrades, tell her, when you write,
That I did my duty well;
Say that when the battle raged,
Fighting, in the van I fell;
Tell her, too, when on my bed
Slowly ebbed my being's stream,
How I knew no peace until
Mother kissed me in my dream.

O Wrap the flag around me, boys

R. Stewart Taylor

O, wrap the flag around me, boys,
To die were far more sweet,
With Freedom's starry banner, boys,
To be my winding sheet.
In life I lov'd to see it wave,
And follow where it led,
And now my eyes grow dim, my hands
Would clasp its last bright shred.

Yet wrap the flag around me, boys,
To die were far more sweet,
With Freedom's starry emblem, boys,
To be my winding sheet.

Cover them over with beautiful flowers:
Decoration hymn.

E. F. Stewart
Cover them over with beautiful flow'rs,
Deck them with garlands, those brothers of ours,
Lying so silently night and day,
Sleeping the years of their manhood away,
Give them the meed they have won in the past,
Give them the honors their future forecast,
Give them the chaplets they won in the strife,
Give them the laurels they lost with their life.

Cover them over, yes, cover them over,
Parent, and husband, brother and lover;
Crown in your hearts those dead heroes of ours,
Cover them over with beautiful flow'rs.

Just before the battle, mother

George Frederick root
Next in popularity to when this Cruel war is over, was the sentimental song just before the battle, mother. its pathos and simplicity touched every heart.

Just before the battle, mother,
I am thinking most of you,
While, upon the field, we're watching,
With the enemy in view. [351]

Comrades brave are round me lying,
Filled with thoughts of home and God;
For well they know that, on the morrow,
Some will sleep beneath the sod.

Farewell, mother, you may never,
You may never, mother,
Press me to your breast again;
But O, you'll not forget me,
Mother, you will not forget me
If I'm number'd with the slain.

Low in the ground they're resting

Collin Coe
Northern sentiment found vent in many beautiful memorial day odes. Several of these possessed genuine poetic excellence.

Low in the ground they're resting,
Proudly the flag waves o'er them;
Never more 'mid wars contesting
To save the land that bore them!

Sleep, brave ones, rest, in hallow'd graves!
Our flag now proudly o'er you waves!
Vict'ry and fame, vict'ry and fame,
Loudly forever shall your brave deeds proclaim,
Loudly forever shall your brave deeds proclaim.

Weeping, sad and lonely

When this cruel war is over

Charles Carroll sawyer
Most popular of all in North and South alike was the song known as when this Cruel war is over. it was heard in every camp, the Southern soldiers inserting ‘gray’ for ‘blue’ in the sixth line of the first stanza. It is doubtful if any other American song was ever upon so many tongues. One million copies were sold during the war.

Dearest love, do you remember,
When we last did meet,
How you told me that you loved me,
Kneeling at my feet?
Oh, how proud you stood before me,
In your suit of blue,
When you vowed to me and country
Ever to be true.


Weeping, sad and lonely,
Hopes and fears how vain!
Yet praying, when this cruel war is over,
Praying that we meet again!

Poor old slave

This song, while not directly connected with the events of the war, was widely popular during the struggle.

'Tis just one year ago today,
That I remember well,
I sat down by poor Nelly's side
And a story she did tell.
'Twas 'bout a poor unhappy slave,
That lived for many a year;
But now he's dead, and in his grave,
No master does he fear.

The poor old slave has gone to rest,
We know that he is free;
Disturb him not but let him rest,
Way down in Tennessee.

When this cruel war is over
With the quaint style of hair-dressing that ruled in 1864, in flowered skirt and ‘Garibaldi blouse,’ this beautiful woman, the wife of a Federal army officer, was photographed in front of the winter quarters of Captain John R. Coxe, in February, at the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac, Brandy Station. She was even then looking at her soldier husband, who sat near her in his ‘suit of blue,’ or perhaps thinking of the three years of terrific fighting that had passed. Shiloh, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg-all of these had been fought and the toll of the ‘cruel war’ was not yet complete.



Negro ‘spirituals’

Some of the negro chants or ‘spirituals’ are particularly interesting because of their direct connection with the incidents of the Civil War. Their sources were generally obscure; their origin seeming to be either by gradual accretion or by an almost unconscious process of composition.

Colonel T. W. Higginson told the story of the beginning of one of these slave songs as related to him by a sturdy young oarsman of Ladies Island.

‘Once we boys’ he said ‘went to tote some rice and de nigger driver lie keep a-callina on us; and I say, “O, de ole nigger-driver.” Den anudder said, “Fust ting my mammy tole me was —notina so bad as nigger drivers.” Den I make a “sing,” just puttina a word ana den anudder word.’ Thus, said Colonel Higginson, almost unconsciously a new song was created, which was repeated the second time with perfect recollection of the original melody and intonations.

The wild, sad strains of these primitive melodies, born of their desire for musical expression amid the dull, daily routine of cotton field and rice swamp, express above and beyond their plaintive lament, a simple trust in the future—in the happy land—the Canaan, toward which their yearning eyes were forever turned.

The enlisted soldiers

Sung by the Ninth regiment U. S. Colored troops at Benedict, Maryland, winter of 1863-4. General Armstrong calls this the negro battle hymn. At Petersburg, July 29, 1864, a trooper of General Henry G. Thomas's brigade sat before the Camp fire singing this negro battle hymn, they look like men of war. General Thomas describes the scene — the dark men with their white eyes and teeth, crouching over a smouldering Camp fire, in dusky shadow, lit only by the feeble rays of the lanterns of the first sergeants dimly showing through the tents. After the terrible battle of the crater they sang these words no more.

Hark! listen to the trumpeters,
They call for volunteers,
On Zion's bright and flowery mount—
Behold the officers!

They look like men,
They look like men,
They look like men of war.

My father, how long?

This primitive chant is thought by Mr. G. H. Allan, who wrote down the stanzas, to have originated from the Florida plantations. At the outbreak of the Civil war several negroes were thrown into jail at Georgetown, South Carolina, for singing the verses. Although the ‘spiritual’ was an old one, the words were considered as being symbolical of new events. A little colored boy explained the matter tersely to Mr. Allan. ‘Dey tink de Lord mean fo‘ to say de Yankees call us.’

We'll fight for liberty,
We'll fight for liberty,
We'll fight for liberty,
When de Lord will call us home.
And it won't be long,
And it won't be long,
And it won't be long,
When de Lord will call us home.

Many thousand go

This ‘spiritual,’ to which the Civil war actually gave rise, was composed by nobody knows whom, although it is perhaps the most recent of the slave ‘spirituals’ of which we have record. Lieut. Col. Trowbridge learned that it was first sung on the occasion when General Beauregard gathered the slaves from the Port royal Islands to build fortifications at Hilton head and Bay Point.

No more peck oa corn for me,
No more, no more;
No more peck oa corn for me,
Many tousand go.

No more driver's lash for me,
No more, no more;
No more driver's lash for me,
Many tousand go.

Pray on

This curious ‘spiritual’ is one of those arising directly from the events of the war. When the news of approaching freedom reached the sea island rice plantations of the Port royal Islands this chant was sung with great fervor by the negroes. The verses were annotated by Charles Pickard Ware.

Pray on—pray on;
Pray on, den light us over;
Pray on—pray on,
De Union break of day.
My sister, you come to see baptize
In De Union break of day,
In de Union break of day.

Meet, O lord

Meet, O Lord, on de milk-white horse
Ana de nineteen vial in his hana.
Drop on—drop on de crown on my head,
And rolly in my Jesus arm;
In dat mornina all day,
In dat mornina all day,
In dat mornina all day,
When Jesus de Christ been born.


‘Meet, O lord’: Hilton head in 1861—the time and place of this negro song's creation This photograph appears here by a curious coincidence. With the presentation of the ‘spiritual’ that commemorates an event of the war connected with the Confederate General Drayton, there has come to light a photograph of his home on Hilton Head in 1861. Through these gates, watched by loving eyes, he rode on the ‘milk-white horse,’ the morning of the engagement at Bay Point. Mr. W. F. Allen, who collected many slave-songs, was told that, ‘When de gun shoot at Bay Pint,’ General Drayton left a Negro boy holding his white war horse. He never returned to claim his steed and in some way the incident was commemorated in this ‘spiritual,’ which is still sung on the plantations of Hilton Head Island. Observe the Negro ‘mammies’ on the porch and at the gate, also the luxuriance of foliage framing the Southern house in a bower of greenery. Members of the Third New Hampshire regiment face the reader; for the house is now a rendezvous of Federal troops.


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