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Civil War Ballads: I’m Going to Fight Mit Sigel

This tongue-in-cheek song was written by John F. Poole (1833-1893) to the tune of “The girl I left behind me.” The 97th Regimental String Band recorded a version, “I Goes To Fight Mit Sigel,” for their 1999 album Songs of the Civil War, Vol. 7: Brass Mounted Army. The song is an unflattering portrayal of German-American soldiers in the Union army, written in a mock-German accent from the perspective of a German volunteer. The title is a reference to Union Major General Franz Sigel.

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 de Yankee Eagle,
Un now I gets mine sojer clothes,
I’m going to fight mit Sigel.

Ven I comes from de Deutsche Countree,
I vorks some dimes at baking,
Den I keeps a lager bier saloon,
Un den I goes shoe-making;
But now I was a sojer been
To save de Yankee Eagle;
To schlauch dem tam Secession volks,
I’m going to fight mit Sigel.

I gets ein tam big rifle guns,
Un puts him to mine shoulder,
Den march so bold. like big jack horse,
Un may been someding bolder;
I goes off mit de volunteers,
To save de Yankee Eagle,
To give dem rebel vellers fits,
I’m going to fight mit Sigel.

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Civil War Ballads: Hood’s Old Brigade

Hood’s Old Brigade“, or “On the March”, was written by Mollie E. Moore (1844–1909), a Southern poet who’s family was originally from Alabama. She moved to Texas in 1855, then to New Orleans, Louisiana with her husband after the war. Folksinger Bobby Horton put this poem to music for his album Homespun Songs of the C​.​S​.​A​.​, Volume 5 (1996). Horton’s accent and rapid cadence made it difficult to transcribe, but I was able to reconcile some of the more indiscernible lyrics with the original poem.

Twas midnight when we built our fires
We marched at half past three
We know not when our march shall end
Nor care–we follow Lee.
The starlight gleams on many a crest
And many a well-trod blade
This handful marching on our left
This lin’ is our brigade.

Our lin’ is short because its veins
So lavishly have bled
The missing search the countless planes
For battles it has led
There are those Georgians on the right
Their ranks are thinin’ too
How in one company they say
They now can count but two

There’s not much talkin’ down the lines
Nor shoutin’ down the gloam [twilight]
For when the night is ’round us
Then we’re thinkin’ most of home

I saw a young soldier startled
When we passed an open glade
Where the low starlight, leaf, and bough
A fairy picture made
Nor has he uttered a word since then
My heart can whisper why
‘Twas like the spot in Texas
Where he bade his love goodbye

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Civil War Ballads: Savannah

“Savannah” was written by the heavy metal band Civil War for their album The Last Full Measure (2016), named after Jeff Shaara’s historical novel. Guitarists Oskar Montelius and Rikard Sundén, drummer Daniel Mullback, and keyboardist Daniel Mÿhr left the band Sabaton to form Civil War in 2012. Like the traditional song “Marching through Georgia,” “Savannah” recounts Major General William T. Sherman’s “March to the Sea.”

Come along now boys we’ve got so many miles to go
It has been so many fights and now it’s time to show
What a boy is really made of
What a man’s prepared to die for
Be a killer angel in the army under God

Mississippi soldiers, Army of the Tennessee
If you talk the talk you’d better walk the walk with me
It is time to play with fire, being judge without a trial
Army of Georgia set the devil in you free

We’re rolling like thunder, we burn and we plunder
The Principle of the scorched earth
Civilians are dying the children are crying
But this is the way of the world

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Civil War Ballads: Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)

Indie rock band The Decemberists wrote and recorded “Yankee Bayonet” for their fourth album, The Crane Wife (2006). It’s a classic tale of lost love during wartime.

Heart-carved tree trunk, Yankee bayonet
A sweetheart left behind
Far from the hills of the sea-swelled Carolinas
That’s where my true love lies

Look for me when the sun-bright swallow
Sings upon the birch bough high
But you are in the ground with the voles and the weevils
All a’chew upon your bones so dry

But when the sun breaks
To no more bullets in Battle Creek
Then will you make a grave
For I will be home then
I will be home then
I will be home then
I will be home then
Then

When I was a girl how the hills of Oconee
Made a seam to hem me in
There at the fair when our eyes caught, careless
Got my heart right pierced by a pin

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Civil War Ballads: USS Monitor

“USS Monitor” was written by the heavy metal band Civil War for their album Gods and Generals (2015), named after Jeff Shaara’s historical novel. Guitarists Oskar Montelius and Rikard Sundén, drummer Daniel Mullback, and keyboardist Daniel Mÿhr left the band Sabaton to form Civil War in 2012.

I know that the sun goes down
As sure as the world still spins around
This is the new and modern way

Speak of the Devil; here I am
Came from the Viking land
Caught in the cold couldn’t understand
Stuck in the woods of wilderness

Blessed with the fury
Off we go to conquer other shores
I do really want it all
Please open the door

Hold your fire; save your life
Armored in steel the USS monitor
This is judgment day
The rise of the ironclad

In England but things turned bad
Inventions of mine just could not stand
The west was at war and needed help

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Civil War Ballads: Richmond is a Hard Road to Travel

Written by John Reuben Thompson in 1863, “Richmond is a Hard Road to Travel” is a satirical song mocking the Union Army’s inability to capture Richmond, Virginia, the Confederate capital, in 1861 and 1862. It was set to the tune of “Jordan is a Hard Road to Travel” by Daniel Decatur Emmett, who also wrote “Dixie”.

Would you like to hear my song? I’m afraid it’s rather long,
Of the famous “On to Richmond” double trouble;
Of the half a dozen trips and half a dozen slips
And the very latest bursting of the bubble.
‘Tis pretty hard to sing and, like a round, round ring,
‘Tis a dreadful knotty puzzle to unravel;
Though all the papers swore, when we touched Virginia’s shore,
That Richmond was a hard road to travel.

Then pull off your overcoat and roll up your sleeve,
For Richmond is a hard road to travel.
Then pull off your overcoat and roll up your sleeve,
For Richmond is a hard road to travel, I believe.

First McDowell, bold and gay, set forth the shortest way
By Manassas in the pleasant summer weather
But unfortunately ran on a Stonewall (foolish man!)
And had a rocky journey altogether.
And he found it rather hard to ride over Beauregard
And Johnston proved a deuce of a bother.
‘Twas clear beyond a doubt that he didn’t like the route
And a second time would have to try another.

Then pull off your overcoat and roll up your sleeve,
For Manassas is a hard road to travel.
Manassas gave us fits, and Bull Run made us grieve,
For Richmond is a hard road to travel, I believe.

Next came the Wooly Horse with an overwhelming force
To march down to Richmond by the Valley,
But he couldn’t find the road, and his onward movement showed
His campaigning was a mere shilly-shally.
Then Commissary Banks, with his motley foreign ranks
Kicking up a great noise, fuss, and flurry,
Lost the whole of his supplies and with tears in his eyes
From the Stonewall ran away in a hurry.

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