Civil War Ballads: Rock of Chickamauga

This chipper tune was recorded by Jimmy Driftwood for his 1961 album Songs of Billy Yank and Johnny Reb. It gives a rather unflattering account of Major General William Rosecrans’ performance at the Battle of Chickamauga, while praising Major General George H. Thomas’ dogged defense of Snodgrass Hill, which arguably saved the Union army from destruction. This action earned Thomas the nickname, “Rock of Chickamauga.”

Major General George H. Thomas

Major General George H. Thomas

Chick Chick Chickamauga
Chick Chick Chickamauga

Bragg came down the river
with Longstreet by his side
It was an awful battle
and many a soldier died

The rebs came through the wheatfield
Rosecrans ran away
But George Thomas stood his ground
and saved the Union on that day

He was the rock (He was the rock)
of Chickamauga (Chicka Chicka Chickamauga)
The solid rock (the solid rock)
of Chickamauga (Chicka Chicka Chickamauga)

He faced the foe
He stood his ground
No one could push that Yank around

He was the rock (The solid rock)
of Chickamauga (Chick Chick Chickamauga)
(Chick Chick Chickamauga)

The cannonballs were dancing
The rifles played a tune
Rosecrans was a-runnin’
like the cow had jumped the moon

The rebels were a-yellin’
Their voices loud and shrill
But they couldn’t drive George Thomas
from the top of Snodgrass Hill

He was the rock (He was the rock)
of Chickamauga (Chicka Chicka Chickamauga)
The solid rock (the solid rock)
of Chickamauga (Chicka Chicka Chickamauga)

He faced the foe
He stood his ground
No one could push that Yank around

He was the rock (The solid rock)
of Chickamauga (Chick Chick Chickamauga)
(Chick Chick Chickamauga)
(Chick Chick Chickamauga…)

The Battle of Chickamauga was fought September 19–20, 1863, between the Army of the Cumberland under Major General William Rosecrans and the Confederate Army of Tennessee under General Braxton Bragg, along the banks of the Chickamauga Creek. Over 34,600 Union and Confederate soldiers were killed, wounded, captured, or missing in the two day battle. Confederate Lieutenant General James Longstreet’s Corps, detached from the Army of Northern Virginia, shattered Rosecrans’ defensive line and routed a third of his army from the field. Only a stubborn defense by Major General George H. Thomas’ XIV Corps prevented total disaster. Still, the battle ended in a costly victory for the South.

Contemporary lithograph of General George Thomas rallying his troops, by J.F. Hillen. Probably from Harper's Weekly

Contemporary lithograph of Major General George H. Thomas rallying his troops, by J.F. Hillen. Probably from Harper’s Weekly

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About Michael Kleen

Michael Kleen is an author, raconteur, and freelance columnist. He has a M.A. in History and M.S. in Education. He lives in Rockford, Illinois, where he was the 2013 Republican candidate for mayor.

Posted on March 23, 2017, in History, Music and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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