The Broken Pledge and General Emancipation

Images from the  CivilWarPhotoGallery website


{Tune – Wait for the Wagon.}

In Uncle Sam’s Dominion, in Eighteen Sixty one,
The fight between Secession and Union was begun;
The South declared they’d have the ‘rights’ which Uncle Sam denied,
Or in their Secesh Wagon, they’d all take a ride.

Hurrah for the Wagon — the Old Union Wagon!
We’ll stick to our Wagon and all take a ride!

The makers of OUR wagon were men of solid wit,
They made it out of “Charter Oak” that wouldn’t rot or split,
Its wheels are of material, the strongest and the best,
And two are named the North and South, and two the East and West.

CHORUS — Hurrah for the Wagon, &c.

Our wagon-bed is strong enough for any “revolution” —
In fact, ’tis the “HULL” of the “Old Constitution”
Her coupling’s strong, her axle’s long, and any where you get her,
No monarch’s frown can “back her down” — no traitor can upset her.

CHORUS — Hurrah for the Wagon, &c.

This good old wagon the nations all admired,
Her wheels had run for four score years and never once been “tired.”
Her passengers were happy as along her way she whirled,
For the good old Union Wagon was the glory of the world!

CHORUS — Hurrah for the Wagon, &c.

But when old Abram took command, the South wheel got displeased,
Because the PUBLIC FAT was gone that kept her axle greased;
And when he gathered up the reins and started on his route,
She plunged into secession, and knocked some “feilers” out!

CHORUS — Hurrah for the Wagon, &c.

Now while in the secession mire the wheel was sticking tightly,
Some tory passengers got mad, and cursed the driver slightly;
But Abram “couldn’t see it” — so he didn’t heed their clatter —
“There’s too much BLACK MUD on the wheel,” says he, “that’s what’s the matter.”

CHORUS — Hurrah for the Wagon, &c.

So Abram gave them notice that in Eighteen Sixty-three,
Unless the rebels “dried it up,” he’d set their niggers free;
And then the man that led the van to fight against his nation,
Would drop his gun and home he’d run, to fight against starvation.

CHORUS — Hurrah for the Wagon, &c.

When Abram said he’d free the slaves that furnished their supplies,
It opened Northern traitors’ mouths, and Southern traitors’ eyes!
“The slaves,” said they, “will runaway if you thus rashly free them!”
But Abram guessed, perhaps, they’d best go home and oversee them!

CHORUS — Hurrah for the Wagon, &c.

Around our Union Wagon, with shoulders to the wheel,
A million soldiers rally, with hearts as true as steel;
And of all the Generals, high or low, that help to save the nation,
There’s none that strikes a HARDER blow than GENERAL EMANCIPATION!

CHORUS — Hurrah for the Wagon, &c.

The Athens Messenger (Athens, Ohio) Jan 29, 1863

Another version of the song:

The Good Old Union Wagon (reply to a rebel song entitled Secession Wagon S. Matthews (lyrics at this link)



A rich man at his counting desk stood,
And a poor man stood at the door;
The rich man was in a talkative mood,
and he talked as he had talked before.

He urged the poor man again and again,
To enroll his name and go,
For they want six hundred thousand men —
Yet the poor man answered no.

I cannot leave my children dear,
Nor leave their mother, no!
For who their lonely hearts would cheer,
When to the war I go?

And then I have no gold to give,
To drive their wants away,
Or buy the comforts they should have,
When comes the winter day.

The rich man grasped the poor man’s hand,
And shook it hard and long,
Then urged him for his country stand,
And made his pledges strong.

Go! brave one; go! and you shall find
Your dear ones no excuse.
For all their wants my wealth I’ll bind,
My purse strings shall be loose.

The poor man’s heart was bowed with pain,
A tear stood in his eye,
When he went to his home again,
To bid that home good-bye.

The weary months sped slowly by,
Winter’s chill winds had come
Hungry and cold the children cry,
Round that once happy home.

The mother to the rich man went,
And told her words of woe;
Reminding him ’twas this intent,
To make her husband go.

You promised him your wealth should be,
Free for his children’s use,
That for our wants we sure would see,
Your purse strings should be loose.

The rich man answered:
‘Tis true I told him as you say,
My purse strings should be loose,
And that my purse by night and day,
Was open for your use.

But can’t you see what I’m about,
The dimes go in, but never go out.

‘Twas thus they promised o’er and o’er,
The poor man standing at their door;
And every promise they have given,
They’ve broken in the sight of heaven.
And while the poor their homes defend,
The poor man’s child they’ll not befriend;
They promise good and pay in groans,
and Satan waits to pick their bones.

The Athens Messenger (Athens, Ohio) Mar 19, 1863

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