Civil War – Apronstrings Guards


Now, while our soldiers are fighting our battles,
Each at his post to do all he can,
Down among rebels and contraband chattels,
What are you doing, my sweet little man?

All the brave boys under canvas are sleeping;
All of them pressing to march with the van,
Far from the homes where their sweethearts are weeping;
What are you waiting for, sweet little man?

You with the terrible warlike moustaches
Fit for a colonel or chief of a clan,
You with the waist made for the sword-belt and sashes,
Where are your shoulder-straps, sweet little man?

Bring him the buttonless garments of woman!
Cover his face lest it freckle and tan;
Muster the Apronstrings  Guards on the Common:
That is the corps for the sweet little man.

Give him for escort a file of young misses,
Each of them armed with a deadly rattan;
They shall defend him from laughter and hisses
Aimed by low boys at the sweet little man.

All the fair maidens about him shall cluster,
Pluck the white feathers from bonnet and hat,
Make him a plume like a turkey wing duster:
That is the crest of the sweet little man.

O, but the Apronstrings Guards are the fellows!
Drilling each day since our troubles began;
“Handle your walking sticks!” “Shoulder umbrellas!”
That is the style for the sweet little man.

Have we a nation to save? In the first place,
Saving ourselves is the sensible plan;
Surely the spot where there’s shooting is the worst place
Where I can stand, says the sweet little man.

Catch me confiding my person with strangers!
Think how the cowardly Bull Runners ran!
In the brigade of the Stay-at-home Rangers
Marches my corps, says the sweet little man.

Such was the stuff of the Malakoff takers;
Such were the soldiers that sealed the Redan;
Trucelent housemaids and bloodthirsty Quakers,
Brave not the wrath of the sweet little man!

Yield him the sidewalk, ye nursery maidens;
Sauve qui peut! Bridget, and right about, Ann!
Fierce as a shark in a school of menhadens,
See him advancing, the sweet little man.

When the red flails of the battle-field rangers
Beat out the continent’s wheat from the bran,
While the wind scatters the chaffy Seceshers,
What will become of our sweet little man?

When the brown soldiers come from the borders,
How will he look while his features they scan?
How will he feel when he gets marching orders
Signed by his lady-love? sweet-little man!

Fear not for him, though the rebels expect him —
Life is too precious to shorten its span;
Woman her broomstick shall raise to protect him;
Will she not fight for the sweet little man?

Now, then, nine cheers for the Stay-at-home Rangers!
Blow the great fish-horn and beat the tin pan!
First in the field that was furthest from danger,
Take you white feather plume, sweet little man!

The Golden Era (San Francisco, California)  – Jan 4, 1863

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