Category Archives: Music

Civil War Ballads: The Fall of Charleston

Eugene T. Johnston wrote this song near the end of the American Civil War to celebrate the capture of Charleston, South Carolina by Union forces in February 1865. Since then, it has been covered many times, including by country and western artist Tennessee Ernie Ford (1919-1991) and Civil War folk singer Bobby Horton.

Oh have you heard the glorious news, is the cry from every mouth,
Charleston is taken, and the rebels put to rout;
And Beauregard the chivalrous, he ran to save his bacon—
When he saw Gen. Sherman’s “Yanks,” and “Charleston is taken!”

With a whack, rowdy-dow,
A hunkey boy is General Sherman,
Whack, rowdy-dow,
Invincible is he!

This South Carolina chivalry, they once did loudly boast;
That the footsteps of a Union man, should ne’er polute their coast.
They’d fight the Yankees two to one, who only fought for booty;—
But when the “udsills” came along it was “Legs do your duty.”

With a whack, rowdy-dow,
Babylon is fallen,
Whack, rowdy-dow,
The end is drawing near!

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Civil War Ballads: The Opinions of Paddy Magee

Like “Paddy’s Lamentation,” “The Opinions of Paddy Magee” expresses the opinion of an Irish immigrant during the American Civil War. Unlike Paddy’s Lamentation, however, this song celebrates the contributions United States citizens made during the Irish Potato Famine and suggests Irishmen repay that debt by fighting to preserve the Union. David Kincaid recorded this song for his album The Irish Volunteer (1998).

I’m Paddy Magee, sir, from Ballinahee, sir,
In an illigant ship I come over the say;
Father Donahoe sent me, my passage he lent me–
Sure, only for that, I’d a walked all the way!
He talked of America’s freedom and glory;
“Begorra,” says I, “that’s the counthry for me!”
So, to ind a long story, I’ve now come before ye,
To give the opinions of Paddy Magee.

Whin Ireland was needing, and famine was feeding,
And thousands were dying for something to ate,
‘Twas America’s daughters that sent over the waters
The ships that were loaded with corn and whate:
And Irishmen sure will forever remember,
The vessels that carried the flag of the free;
And the land that befriended, they’ll die to defend it,
And that’s the opinions of Paddy Magee.

John Bull, ye ould divil,
Ye’d betther keep civil!
Remimber the story of ‘Seventy-six,
Whin Washington glorious he slathered the Tories;
Away from Columbia you then cut your sticks.
And if once again you’re inclined to be meddling,
There’s a city that’s called New Orleans, d’ye see,
Where Hickory Jackson he drove off the Saxon–
Now that’s the opinions of Paddy Magee.

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Civil War Ballads: Death of Jenny Wade

David Matthews (no, not that one) wrote and recorded this song for his 1994 album Shades of Blue & Gray: Songs From The Civil War, released by Delta, and re-released on various alternatively-titled albums over the years. It heavily romanticizes the alleged love between Jennie (Ginnie) Wade, the only direct civilian casualty of the Battle of Gettysburg, and Corporal Johnston Hastings “Jack” Skelly of the 87th Pennsylvania.

Mary Virginia “Ginnie” Wade

As they said their goodbyes
He looked in her eyes
He said, Jenny, my love, I will return.
She held his hands to her breast
Said even though we’re apart,
I will hold you inside
like the light in my heart.

Always together, for now and forever
Love is the armor that keeps us alive
Always together, for now and forever
I love you, fair Jenny
Fair Jenny, my wife

With the fighting and dying
Raging outside her door
Jenny wondered where John was tonight
And although she could not know
John lay dyin’ alone
In the land of Virginia,
Away from their home.

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Civil War Ballads: Song for the Irish Brigade

Like “Kelly’s Irish Brigade,” David Kincaid recorded this song honoring Irish-American volunteers in the Confederate Army for his album The Irish-American’s Song (2006). The fourth stanza appears to specifically refer to troops who fought under Colonel Edward A. O’Neal in the Army of Northern Virginia.

Oh, not now for songs of a nation’s wrongs,
not the groans of starving labor;
Let the rifle ring and the bullet sing
to the clash of the flashing sabre!
There are Irish ranks on the tented banks
of Columbia’s guarded ocean;
And an iron clank from flank to flank
tells of armed men in motion.

And frank souls there clear true and bare
To all, as the steel beside them,
Can love or hate withe the strength of Fate,
Till the grave of the valiant hide them.
Each seems to be mailed Ard Righ,
whose sword’s avenging glory
Must light the fight and smite for Right,
Like Brian’s in olden story!

With pale affright and panic flight
Shall dastard Yankees base and hollow,
Hear a Celtic race, from their battle place,
Charge to the shout of “Faugh-a-ballaugh!”
By the sould above, by the land we love
Her tears bleeding patience
The sledge is wrought that shall smash to naught
The brazen liar of nations.

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Civil War Ballads: High Water Mark

“High Water Mark” is part three in a three-part, 32-minute epic appearing on heavy metal band Iced Earth’s album The Glorious Burden (2004). The three-song serial commemorates the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1861. Former Judas Priest frontman Tim “Ripper” Owens provided vocals on the album. The songs appear to be based on either the novel The Killer Angels (1987) by Michael Shaara or the movie Gettysburg (1993), which was also based on the novel.

[Lee:]
“It was very close yesterday
I thought for sure they would break
But this attack that I have planned
A massive strike across open land
In the center they will break
Plan it well, everything’s at stake
We’ll hit ’em hard, not a silent gun
Before the infantry’s begun.

Execute it well, we risk everything.
It’s in God’s hands now.”

[Longstreet:]
“General Lee I must tell you straight
That I believe this attack will fail.
No 15,000 men ever made
Will overtake that ridge today.
A mile charge over open ground
With Yankee cannon gunnin’ us down.”

[Lee:]
“We do our duty, We do what we must
And in my plan you will trust.”
(Thousands die on this day)
“Execute it well, we risk everything.
It’s in God’s hands now.”

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Civil War Ballads: Hold At All Costs

“Hold At All Costs” is part two in a three-part, 32-minute epic appearing on heavy metal band Iced Earth’s album The Glorious Burden (2004). The three-song serial commemorates the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1861. Former Judas Priest frontman Tim “Ripper” Owens provided vocals on the album. The songs appear to be based on either the novel The Killer Angels (1987) by Michael Shaara or the movie Gettysburg (1993), which was also based on the novel.

[Armistead:]
“Just a mile or so away
Lies my dearest friend in this world.
He wears the Blue and I the Gray
And God it hurts me so
The last time we were together
I grabbed his hand and I pledged
If I ever draw my sword on you
May the good lord strike me dead.”

The Union flank’s in trouble
To the Round Top on the double
A bad decision, insubordination
Exposed our line in a dangerous way

The burden lies upon us
Surrender is not an option
We are the flank and if we break
The Union crumbles, We could lose the war!

Down below the carnage
The rebels charging onward
Push the slaughter toward the Peach Orchard.
Through the Wheatfield and Devil’s Den

The valor of the Texans
And Alabama’s best men
They’re unrelenting and devastating
The last full measure of devotion’s clear.

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