David Kincaid – The Boys That Wore the Green

20 04 2014

Fun stuff. Listen along – can you figure out who everyone is?





Johnny Horton – Battle of Bull Run

19 04 2014

Thanks Craig Swain!





Soundtrack for “Death and the Civil War”

18 09 2012

Hey folks: if you enjoy the soundtrack to tonight’s PBS American Experience presentation of Death and the Civil War, you can find ordering information here.





Two For the Eyes & Ears

7 04 2012

Here are two I ran across yesterday.

First, courtesy of Keith Harris at Cosmic America – very well done on many levels. Watch this Wesley Jensen bit a few times full screen – it gets better every time, and even stitch nazis will dig it. Go here for some background and a “making of” piece - the reenactor groups are the 72nd NY, 42nd VA and Hurt’s Battery (see here).

Next from Lee White at Army of Tennessee. Not much of a video, but I’ve been a Leon Russell fan for a long time.





“Wait For the Wagons”

27 12 2011

FOBR (Friend of Bull Runnings) Richard Holloway, who provided us with the Jackson Barracks Collection, has passed along these lyrics. The rebels were riding pretty high in September ’61, in the wake of the big win at Manassas. I’ve highlighted the Bull Run parts. Pay particular attention to the Louisianans and their bowie knives:

Written for the Shreveport News

Abe’s Wagons.

Air – Wait for the Wagon

By P. M.

Come all ye sons of freedom and join our Southern band,

We’re going to fight the Yankees and drive them from our land.

For justice is our motto and God is our guide,

So jump up in Abe’s wagons, and all take a ride.

So wait for the wagons,

Abe’s Yankee wagons;

Wait for the wagons,

And we’ll all take a ride.

Secession is our watchword, our rights we will demand,

And to defend our firesides, we pledge our heart and hand.

Jeff. Davis is our president, with Stephens by his side,

When Beauregard and Johnson, will join us in a ride.

Wait for the wagons.

Our wagon is plenty big enough, the running gear is good,

Tis stuffed with cotton around the sides, and made of Southern wood.

South Carolina is our driver, with Georgia by her side,

Virginia holds our nag up, and we’ll all take a ride.

Wait for the wagons.

There’s Tennessee and Texas are also in the ring,

And wouldn’t have a government where cotton isn’t king.

Alabama too, and Florida have long ago replied,

Mississippi’s in the wagon and anxious for a ride.

Wait for the wagons.

Missouri, North Carolina, and Arkansas were slow,

They must hurry or we’ll leave them, then where would they go.

There’s old Kentuck and Maryland, each can’t make up their mind,

So I reckon after all, we’ll take them up behind.

Wait for the wagons.

Louisiana’s just and holy, her men are brave and true,

She’s joined with us to whip them, is all she’ll have to do.

God bless our little army, in Jeff. Davis we do confide,

So come boys in the wagon, and all take a ride.

Wait for the wagons.

We met them at Manassas, all formed in bold array,

And the battle was not ended when they all ran away.

Some left their guns and knapsack, in their legs they did confide,

We overhauled Scott’s carriage, and his epaulets besides.

Wait for the wagons.

Louisiana’s Tiger Rifles, they rushed in for their lines,

And the way they slayed the Yankees, with their long Bowie knives.

They laid there by the hundreds, as it next day did appear,

With a countenance quite open, that gaped from ear to ear.

Wait for the wagons.

The battle being ended, and Patterson sent back,

Because he did not fight us, for courage he did lack.

Abe Lincoln he got so very mad, when his army took a slide,

And we jumped into his wagons, and we all took a ride.  

Wait for the wagons.

The Shreveport (La.) Weekly News

Volume 1, Number 22

Monday, September 16, 1861

Page 1, Column 1





Sullivan Ballou Redux

8 04 2009

Here’s another version of Sullivan Ballou’s famous letter.  Hat tip to Dmitri.

Not my cup of tea, but whatever floats your boat.  See here for all my posts on Ballou, including what I think is the most complete and accurate version of the letter (the whereabouts of which are not known).





“Blind Tom” and the Battle of Manassas

11 03 2009

bom_sheet_music_cover1

Researching anything can take you to some pretty cool places, literally and figuratively.  Thanks to reader Deirdre O’Connell, I’ve  been taken to the world of 19th century music, slavery, “black Confederates” and physical/mental handicap all rolled into the husky package known as “Blind Tom” Wiggins.  I can’t vouch for his story, but will defer to Deirdre who has written this book on the savant:

Dear Harry,

I would like to share with you a bit of Bull Run history that I uncovered when I was writing my book, The Ballad of Blind Tom. It is a biography of the slave pianist and autistic savant, Blind Tom Wiggins, who heard a symphony in the battlefield and music in the ocean’s waves.

As you may be aware, Blind Tom’s most famous composition was The Battle of Manassas, which he composed when just a lad of fourteen. The first page of the sheet music details how the composition came about. Shortly after the battle – it read – Tom’s manager, Perry Oliver, was laid up in bed recuperatingfrom injury. Tom was often in the room with him, listening as every detail of the battle was scrutinized. Ten days later, he sat down at the piano and poured out his famous battle-piece, “The Battle of Manassas”.

“In the first place [reads the sheet music notes] he will represent the Southern army leaving home to their favorite tune of The Girl I Left Behind Me which you will hear in the distance, growing louder and louder as they approach Manassas (the imitation of the drum and fife). He will represent the Grand Union Army leaving Washington City to the tune of Dixie. You will all recollect that their prisoners spoke of the fact that when the Grand Union Army left Washington, not only were their bands playing Dixie, but their men were also singing it.

He will represent the eve of battle by a very soft sweet melody, then the clatter of arms and accoutrements, the war trumpet of Beauregard, which you will hear distinctly; and then McDowell’s in the distance, like an echo at first. He will represent the firing of cannons to Yankee Doodle, Marseilles Hymn and the Star Spangled Banner, Dixie and the arrival of the train of cars containing General Kirby Smith’s reinforcements; which you will all recollect was very valuable to General Beauregard upon that occasion after their arrival of which, the fighting will grow more severe and then retreat.”

On closer examination, the story does  not hold up to scrutiny and in my new book, The Ballad of Blind Tom, I argue that Tom’s Battle of Manassas was less an act of spontaneous loyalty and more publicity stunt dreamed up by his manager – an act of musical revenge against New Orleans piano virtuoso Louis Gottschalk for turning his back on the Confederacy and composing his blood-stirring battle-piece L’Union.

However the battlefield sound-scapethat Tom conjured up on the piano (with a few vocal effects thrown in) was so jaw-droppingly accurate that it cut through this manager’s propaganda. As the rebellion dragged on, Tom’s wild and discordant echo of battlefield – unfiltered by judgment or curiosity – became less a patriotic rouser and more a heart wrenching reminder of the tragedy that is war.

‘Many times I have heard my mother tell of hearing Blind Tom in concert at Chattanooga [one Georgia woman reported in 1942]. ‘She well knew the sounds of war and many of its horrors and indelibly impressed upon her memory was the sounds of an army on the march, as they passed her house for days at a time. So what impressed her most about this Negro artist-genius was his faithful reproduction of the “tramp tramp tramp” of marching men, the rumble of artillery field pieces and the hoof beats (all gaits) of the horses attached to the cavalry units – all of which was too perfect for enjoyment, but a miracle of performance. She thought this proved his genius more than anything else he did and she never saw a musician who could reproduce those sounds except Blind Tom.’

I hope you enjoyed this slice of Bull Run history. If you want to read more about Blind Tom, listen to a selection of his compositions or download the sheet music, check out my website.

Best wishes,

Deirdre O’Connell





The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

12 12 2008

A great clip of a pretty much perfect song from a superb film, The Last Waltz.  Written by a Canadian (Robbie Robertson), but given voice by a son of the south (Levon Helm), this song by The Band nails it – however you want to defne it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jREUrbGGrgM

Go here for a great discussion of the song by musicians and historians.

Saw the clip on Publius.  Check out his post.





Christmas Bells

21 12 2007

clongfellow1.jpg clongfellow2.jpg clongfellow3.jpg clongfellow4.jpg

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote this poem in 1864 while helping his son Charles recover from a serious wound received in Virginia.  Born in 1844, “Charley” (above as a child, a soldier, a samurai!, and a sailor) was a risk taker from the get-go, and lost his thumb in an accident with a gun at age 11.  As a Lieutenant in the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry, he was wounded at New Hope Church during the Mine Run Campaign on November 27, 1863 – shot through the shoulders, with the bullet “nicking” his spine.  Earlier, he had survived a bout with malaria.  After the war Charley lived a full life as a globe-trotting bachelor, but he died young in Boston in 1893.  Read more about him at the NPS Longfellow National Historic Site webpage, and at this SUV site.

Christmas Bells

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas Day

Their old familiar carols play

    And wild and sweet

    The words repeat

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,

The belfries of all Christendom

    Had rolled along

    The unbroken song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way

The world revolved from night to day,

    A voice, a chime,

    A chant sublime

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth

The cannon thundered in the South,

    And with the sound

    The carols drowned

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent

The hearth-stones of a continent,

    And made forlorn

    The households born

Of Peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;

“There is no peace on earth,” I said,

    “For hate is strong,

    And mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep;

God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!

    The Wrong shall fail,

    The Right prevail,

With peace on earth, good-will to men!

The poem has also been adapted and recorded by various artists as a carol, my particular favorite being Frank Sinatra.  But here’s one from The Carpenters (removed) so here’s a different one from a group called Casting Crowns:

 And here is a link to some readings of the poem.

Take these as my poor gift to you.  Merry Christmas to us all; God bless us, every one!

UPDATE: I FOUND FRANK!!!





Blast from the Past

4 10 2007

Thanks to Brooks Simpson over at Civil Warriors for pointing us all to this gem from the 80’s, Gettysburg performed by The Brandos:

Thanks to my buddy Larry hipping me to this a long time ago, I know that the lead singer of The Brandos is non-other than David Kincaid, probably known better to readers of this blog as the artist behind The Irish Volunteer: Songs of the Irish Union Soldier 1861-1865 and The Irish American’s Song: Songs of the Union and Confederate Irish Soldiers, 1861-1865:

kincaid1.jpg kincaid2.jpg

If you haven’t had a chance to hear this wonderful period music, you should check it out.  I also had the pleasure of seeing David perform live at the Pittsburgh Irish Festival.  Good stuff, and from what I gather he is a dedicated student of the war.  Here are a few snaps of him in action a couple of years ago (click on the thumbs for full size):

kincaid3.jpg kincaid4.jpg








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