Yankee Doodle and the Confederate’s Lament

Confederate Soldier’s Lament.


I’m an ex-Confed’rit sojer, I fit in sixty-one
At the battle of Manassy, wot the Yankees call Bull Run;
An’ till Bobby Lee surrendered kep’ on the scout for blood,
Somethimes kivered with glory and sometimes kivered with mud.

I frogged it in the valley with Stonewall Jackson’s band,
An’ lived on faith an’ taters while skedaddlin’ through the land.
We got dead loads of fightin’ in the hottest uv the strife,
And other discombobolations uv a Confed’rit soldier’s life.

The ol’ Kaintucky rifle hangin’ on my cabin wall
Went in for the Confed’racy, an’ staid ontil its fall;
While the tired cuss that toted it, and quit with nary red,
Left some fingers in Varginny, and tuk home sum Yankee lead.

I didn’t luv the kyarpet-bagger, an’ I duzzin’t luv ‘m yit,
Although I hain’t no kind o’ grudge agin the men I fit;
An’ ez a right smart time hez passed, it kinder strikes me cold,
That the ches’nuts cracked in wah time iz gittin’ mighty old.

I’ve rather tu much rhumatix fur fightin’ now-a-days;
Ol’ Uncle Sam hez used me squar’, an’ I lost my scrimmage craze,
When it’s suddenly diskivered thet the cause we thought was lost
Hez bin Rip Van Winkleizing, an’ is wuth a premium on its cost.

So now I’m kickin’ desp’rit bekase I didn’t squeal —
When we uns hed the best of it in the late Varginny reel;
We hed the Fed’ral hosts surrounded with a corp’ril’s gyard uv men,
An’ it makes me mad ex sin ta think we didn’t know it then.

The men wet did the fightin’ thought they hed about enuff,
While Jeff allows they hedn’t, which on us iz mighty tuff;
But I wonder, ef we wuzzin’t beat by an over-whelmin’ foe,
Why it is he didn’t say so some twenty years ago?

*  *  *  *  *  *
“Tain’t wuth while to keep the wah ragin’ till Gabriel sounds retreat,
An’ no ninety-nine horse-power jawin’ will prove to the world we wan’t beat;
An’ I reck’n it’s the settled conviction uv the boys wot fit for the South,
Thet whar muskits an’ cannon’s a failure, thar’s no use to shoot off your mouth.

Then hoorah for the flaf of the Union, thet floats o’er the lany uv the free!
For, notwithstandin’ the misunderstandin’, each Yank iz a brother tu me.
But — while I ain’t spilin’ far fightin’ –ef the Yanks ever try to secede,
I’m blamed ef I don’t help to give ’em all the sweet Hail Columbia they need.

Carroll Sentinel (Carroll, Iowa) Oct 28, 1887

Funny Advertisement for a Remedy


“There was a war song of the rebellion that I have not seen in any collection of the songs of that time,” said the elderly man. “It was sung by a faker who followed the county agricultural fairs in central New York selling a magic ointment warranted to remove warts, corns, bunions, alleviate ingrowing toenails and chilblains and do much besides for suffering humanity.

“The song seemed to have been composed, words and music, by the singer. It was patriotic, sentimental and prophetic, and now, after half a century, it contains accurate historical data. It suited the grownups and fanned the blaze of patriotism of the children so much that from being one of them I can recall some of the stanzas and whistle the air. It was sung by the faker at intervals just before he opened his satchel and said: ‘Now, gentlemen and ladies, I have a few more boxes of this magic ointment, warranted to cure —‘

“The date of the song’s composition was somewhere between the breaking out of the rebellion in the spring and the time in the fall when the prize pumpkins were fit to be exhibited at the farmers’ fairs, as appears in a stanza in which allusion is made to the smaller comet that followed the appearance shortly before the war of the most impressive comet of modern times — the scimitar of flame that when it was at its brightest hung in the western sky in the early evening, its curved blade as broad in this broadest part as the disc of the full moon, almost as bright and long enough to reach from west to northwest.

“The opening stanza of the song set forth in a matter of fact way the immediate situation. It ran:

Secession in the South
Is in everybody’s mouth;
Old Jeff Davis is a hard one,
But old General Scott
Is a-working out a plot
To drive them from our happy land of freedom.

“The reference to the comet helps to narrow down the date of the song’s composition to about the middle of the fall of 1861, for it says:

The comet you see at night
Is a wonderful sight;
It’s been there since the war has been raging,
It had better go down South,
Slap them rebels in the mouth
And drive them from our happy land of freedom.

“The triumphant chorus, never omitted at the close of a stanza, evoked loud and continued applause. It was:

Ho, ho, ho. Ho-ho, ho-ho, ho!
The day of retribution am a-coming,
The Lord bless the free,
For they’re right, I’m sure they be;
Then hurray for our happy land of freedom!

Yankee Doodle (Image from http://www.loc.gov)

“But the closing stanza,” the reminiscent man went on, “was the real seller of the magic ointment. One has to know the state of the public mind in those days to understand how the stanza warmed up the listeners to the merits of the faker and his invaluable house-hold remedy. It enthused the grownups and made the small boys yell and kink their toes. It was uncompromising in this patriotism, but at the same time it foreshadowed eventual and glorious reconciliation all around. This is the way it went:

Then up with Stripes and Stars
And down with civil wars!
Let the scream of our eagle still be Union.
God bless the whole caboodle,
Hail Columbia, Yankee Doodle.
Hip, hurray, for our happy land of freedom!

The Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) Apr 3, 1912

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