DAVID KINCAID

THE IRISH VOLUNTEER

SONGS OF THE IRISH UNION SOLDIER 1861-65

Lyrics and Song Background

 1. The Irish Volunteer

 2. Boys That Wore The Green

 3. The Opinions Of Paddy Magee

 4. The Boys Of The Irish Brigade

 5. Paddy's Lamentation

 6. The Irish Volunteer (No.2)

 7. My Father's Gun

 8. Meagher Is Leading The Irish Brigade

 9. Free And Green

10. The Harp Of Old Erin & Banner Of Stars

11. The List Of Generals

12. Pat Murphy Of Meagher's Brigade

1. The Irish Volunteer (As Sung by Joe English) 

Not much is known today of Joe English, an Irishman and Civil War era music-hall performer /composer in New York City. He was popular enough to have a "songster" of his material (a small book of song lyrics) , entitled "Joe English's Irish and Comic Songster," published in 1864 by Dick & Fitzgerald, 18 Ann St., NY. I have used three other songs from this book on the album. Like comedians today, Joe English treated very serious subject matter with an irreverent sense of humor, and captured the essence of the character of the Irish people of his day. There were several others like him: Fred May, Frank Moore, and Tony Pastor to name a few, all of whom had songsters published, and who frequented the many inexpensive, lively, and often dingy music halls that dotted the New York of this era. It was in these theaters that the Irish found expression for their many feelings concerning their forced immigration to America, and the anti-immigrant /anti-catholic sentiments that abounded at this time. The lyric was written to the well-known tune "The Irish Jaunting Car," also known to students of the Civil War as the melody to the Rebel anthem "The Bonny Blue Flag," written in 1861 by Irish Confederate Harry McCarthy. (Top)

My name is Tim McDonald, I'm a native of the Isle,
I was born among old Erin's bogs when I was but a child.
My father fought in " 'Ninety-eight," for liberty so dear;
He fell upon old Vinegar Hill, like and Irish volunteer.
Then raise the harp of Erin, boys, the flag we all revere--
We'll fight and fall beneath its folds, like Irish volunteers!
Chorus--Then raise the harp, etc.

When I was driven form my home by an oppressor's hand,
I cut my sticks and greased my brogues, and came o'er to this land.
I found a home an many friends, and some that I love dear;
Be jabbers! I'll stick to them like bricks and an Irish volunteer.
Then fill your glasses up, my boys, and drink a hearty cheer,
To the land of our adoption and the Irish volunteer!
Chorus--Then fill your glasses, etc.

Now when the traitors in the south commenced a warlike raid,
I quickly then laid down my hod, to the devil went my spade!
To a recruiting-office then I went, that happened to be near,
And joined the good old "Sixty-ninth," like and Irish volunteer.
Then fill the ranks and march away!--no traitors do we fear;
We'll drive them all to blazes, says the Irish volunteer.
Chorus--Then fill the ranks, etc.

When the Prince of Wales came over here, and made a hubbaboo,
Oh, everybody turned out, you know, in gold and tinsel too;
But then the good old Sixty-ninth didn't like these lords or peers--
They wouldn't give a d--n for kings, the Irish volunteers!
We love the land of Liberty, its laws we will revere,
"But the divil take nobility!" says the Irish volunteer!
Chorus--We love the land, etc.

Now if the traitors in the South should ever cross our roads,
We'll drive them to the divil, as Saint Patrick did the toads;
We'll give them all short nooses that come just below the ears,
Made strong and good of Irish hemp by Irish volunteers.
Then here's to brave McClellan, whom the army now reveres--
He'll lead us on to victory, the Irish volunteers.
Chorus--Then here's to brave, etc.

Now fill your glasses up, my boys, a toast come drink with me,
May Erin's Harp and the Starry Flag united ever be;
May traitors quake, and rebels shake, and tremble in their fears,
When next they meet the Yankee boys and Irish volunteers!
God bless the name of Washington! that name this land reveres;
Success to Meagher and Nugent, and their Irish volunteers!
Chorus--God bless the name, etc.

2. Boys That Wore The Green (William Woodburn)


The author of this lyric used the melody "John Anderson, my Jo," by Scottish poet/composer Robert Burns, of which a version was found in a book entitled "Good Old Songs," Volkwein Bros., Pittsburgh, PA, apparently of the late 19th century vintage. The lyric appeared in the "John Brown And The Union Right Or Wrong Songster," D.E. Appleton & Co., Publishers, 508 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, 1863. I have not yet run across the name of William Woodburn in any other Civil War period music, and research has not yet yielded any information about him. He was clearly an admirer of Colonel Michael Corcoran's 69th New York State Militia, and their courageous stand at the first major engagement of the Civil War: the battle of Bull Run. (Top)

Regimental Color, 69th NYSM,
Carried at Bull Run

On the twenty-first of July, beneath the burning sun.
McDowell met the Southern troops in battle, at Bull Run;
Above the Union vanguard, was proudly dancing seen,
Beside the starry banner, old Erin's flag of green.

Colonel Corcoran led the Sixty-ninth on that eventful day,
I wish the Prince of Wales were there to see him in the fray;
His charge upon the batteries was a most glorious scene,
With gallant New York firemen, and the boys that wore the green.

In the hottest of the fire there rode along the line
A captain of a Zouave band, crying, "Now, boys, is your time;"
Ah! who is he so proudly rides, with bold and dauntless mien?
'Tis Thomas Francis Meagher, of Erin's isle of green!

The colors of the Sixty-ninth, I say it without shame,
Were taken in the struggle to swell the victor's fame;
But Farnham's dashing Zouaves, that run with the machine,
Retook them in a moment, with the boys that wore the green!

Being overpowered by numbers, our troops were forced to flee,
The Southern black horse cavalry on them charged furiously;
But in that hour of peril, the flying mass to screen,
Stood the gallant New York firemen, with the boys that wore the green.

Oh, the boys of the Sixty-ninth, they are a gallant band,
Bolder never drew a sword for their adopted land;
Amongst the fallen heroes, a braver had not been,
Than you lamented Haggerty, of Erin's isle of green.

Farewell, my gallant countrymen, who fell that fatal day,
Farewell, ye noble firemen, now mouldering in the clay;
Whilst blooms the leafy shamrock, whilst runs the old machine,
Your deeds will live bold Red Shirts, and Boys that Wore the Green!

3. The Opinions Of Paddy Magee (Written and sung by Joe English)

In November, 1861, the British mail vessel "Trent," carrying two Confederate diplomats, was halted by the U.S. naval ship "San Jacinto." Its captain forcibly removed and arrested the two southerners, bringing the Union to the verge of war with Great Britain. Probably no other event brought so many Irishmen to the Union recruiters, than this prospect of fighting their ancient enemy: "John Bull." Joe English, very much a proponent of the Irish involvement in the Union war effort, uses this reason, and the fact that America had aided the Irish during the famine of the 1840's, to bolster his views. He chose a jig called "Paddy O'Carroll" for its melody, found in O'Neill's "Music of Ireland," Chicago, 1903. Evidently a popular melody in his day (another lyric, "Bad Luck To This Marching," from the Napoleonic era, was also written to this melody), but apparently having fallen out of favor, being unknown to Irish traditional musicians today. (Top)

I'm Paddy Magee, sir, from Ballinahee, sir,
In an illigant ship I come over the say;
Father Donahoe sent me, my passage he lent me--
Sure, only for that, I'd a walked all the way!
He talked of America's freedom and glory;
"Begorra," says I, "that's the counthry for me!"
So, to ind a long story, I've now come before ye,
To give the opinions of Paddy Magee.

Whin Ireland was needing, and famine was feeding,
And thousands were dying for something to ate,
'Twas America's daughters that sent over the waters
The ships that were loaded with corn and whate:
And Irishmen sure will forever remember,
The vessels that carried the flag of the free;
And the land that befriended, they'll die to defend it,
And that's the opinions of Paddy Magee.

John Bull, ye ould divil, ye'd betther keep civil!
Remimber the story of 'Seventy-six,
Whin Washington glorious he slathered the tories;
Away from Columbia you then cut your sticks.
And if once again you're inclined to be meddling,
There's a city that's called New Orleans, d'ye see,
Where Hickory Jackson he drove off the Saxon--
Now that's the opinions of Paddy Magee.

I'm sure none are bowlder the musket to showlder,
Enlisting to learn the sojering trade--
With Corcoran fighting, in Meagher delighting,
They swell up the ranks of the Irish Brigade.
With Columbia defying the bould British Lion,
The sons of ould Ireland forever shall be;
I'll have no intervention, if that's their intention--
And that's the opinions of Paddy Magee.
Though now we're in trouble, it's only a bubble,
We'll soon make the foes of the Union retire;
Foreign knaves that would meddle had better skedaddle,
For them Uncle Sam has a taste of Greek fire!
They'll find if they try it, Columbia's a giant,
And victory perched on the flag of the free;
For the American nation can whale all creation--
And that's the opinions of Paddy Magee.

4. The Boys Of The Irish Brigade (Mrs. Gore)

Found in the "Book Of Irish Songs" by Samuel Lover and Charles Lever, published by A.Winch, Philadelphia, 1860, the writer of this song remains obscure. The lyric deals with the Irish Brigade of the French army (1691-1791), of which the Irish were rightfully proud. The fact that this was published in America on the eve of the Civil War, leads me to believe that it was most likely sung by the Irish who fought in the war. No melody was specified to this one, and at the suggestion of friend Paul Uniack, the old jig "My Lodging Is On The Cold Ground," also from O'Neill's, was used. (Top)


Banners of the Irish Brigades
in the service of France (1691-1791)

What for should I sing you of Roman or Greek,
Or the boys we hear tell of in story?
Come match me for fighting, for frolic, or freak,
An Irishman's reign in his glory;
For Ajax, and Hector, and bold Agamemnon,
Were up to the tricks of our trade, O,
But the rollicking boys, for war, ladies and noise,
The boys of the Irish Brigade, O!

What for should I sing you of Helen or Troy,
Or the mischief that came by her flirting?
There's Biddy M'Clinchy the pride of Fermoy,
Twice as much of a Helen, that's certain.
Then for Venus, so famous, or Queen Cleopatra,
Bad luck to the word should be said, O,
By the rollicking boys, for war, ladies and noise,
The Boys of the Irish Brigade, O!

What for should I sing you of classical fun,
Or of games, whether Grecian or Persian?
Sure the Curragh's the place where the knowing one's done,
And Mallow that flogs for diversion.
For fighting, for drinking, for ladies and all,
No time like our times e'er was made, O,
By the rollicking boys, for war, ladies and noise,
The boys of the Irish Brigade, O!

  

5. Paddy's Lamentation (Anonymous)

At the time of the release of this album, the origins of Paddy's Lamentation were a complete mystery. Since then, further research has shed a little light on the subject. The air (melody) is called "Happy Land Of Erin," and the song is one of only two on the album ever previously recorded, therefore having withstood the test of time. This version may have been written post-war, when the government began cutting back on the veteran's pensions, as the lyric might suggest. I have come across another lyric, called "The Son Of Erin's Isle," which judging from the phrasing and the fact that some of passages are identical, is clearly a variant of the same song, yet decidedly more positive toward the Irish involvement in the war. Its chorus reads: "Cheer up, boys, the time will come again, When the sons of old Erin will be steering, And to the land will go o're, They call Columbia's shore, Where there's freedom for the jolly sons of Erin." (Top)

Regimental Color,
28th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment

And its by the hush, Me Boys
I'm sure that's to hold your noise
And listen to poor Paddy's lamentation
I was by hunger pressed
And by poverty distressed
When I took the thought I'd leave the Irish nation

So I sold me horse and plow
Sold me sheep, me pigs and sow
Me little farm of land and I we parted
And me sweetheart Biddy Magee
I'm afeared I'll never see
For I left her on that mornin' quite broken hearted

Chorus:

And here's you Boys, do take my advice
To Americay I'll have you not be comin'
For there's nothin' here but war
Where the murderin' cannons roar
And I wish I was back home
In dear old Ireland

So me and a hundred more
To Americay sailed o'er
Our fortunes to be makin' we were thinkin'
But when we landed in Yankee-Land
They stuck a musket in me hands
Sayin' "Paddy, you must go and fight for Lincoln"

General Meagher to us said
"If you get shot, or you lose your leg
Every mother's son of you will get a pension"
But in the war I lost my leg
And all I got's a wooden peg
Oh Me Boys, it is the truth to you I mention

Chorus

Now, I'd have thought meself in luck
To be fed an Indian buck
And in Ireland the land that I delight in
But by the Devil I do say
Curse Americay
For I'm sure I've had enough of your hard fightin'

 
6. The Irish Volunteer (No.2) (Words by S.Fillmore Bennett, Music by J.P.Webster)

I have no doubt, that anyone who has done any research on Civil War music will agree that there is a huge volume of it out there. I don't believe any other period in our history produced so much topical music, and it seems that everyone with even half a knack for songwriting did so at this time. Some may have been motivated by patriotism, others merely by opportunistic entrepenuerism, and some perhaps by a little of each. This song came not from a songster, but from a song sheet, published by J.L. Peters, New York, 1862, although it also lists affiliate publishers in Cincinnati, Chicago, and St. Louis. It is a complete arrangement, with the piano and four part vocal harmonies written out, in a style that no doubt developed into "Barber Shop Quartet" decades later. The song was copyrighted in Illinois, and may very likely have been written for the "Illinois Irish Brigade." Rosemary Cullen, of the John Hay Library at Brown University, Providence, RI, found the song for me, and I am most grateful for her tremendous efforts in helping with my research. (Top)

Sweet Mary, me darling, the war clouds are looming,
And traitors are plotting to fetter the land!
I go on the morrow, when cannon are booming,
To join in the battle with liberty's band.

Chorus: Fare thee well sweet Mary Mavourneen,
It grieves me to leave thee dear bride of my soul,
Fare thee well sweet Mary Mavourneen,
It grieves me to leave thee dear bride of my soul.

The land that has blessed us, with love and protection,
Is smitten with peril, beleaguered with foes;
The brave and true hearted, with loyal affection,
Must march where the banner of liberty's goes.

With tear moistened eye-lids, I look through the gloaming,
And think of the pleasures that blessed us of old!
It's breaking my heart is, Sweet Mary Maloning,
With sorrow to leave ye, dear bride of my soul.

The Emerald Island away in the ocean,
With white breakers kissing its murmuring shore,
America's armor will one day be needing,
That British oppression may curse her no more.

I go, but remember, Sweet Mary, me darling,
In camp or a marching, to you I am true!
And if you should listen in vain my returning,
I fall 'neath our banner--the Stars and the Blue.

7. My Father's Gun (Composed and sung by Joe English)

Yet another example of Joe English's enthusiasm (expressed with his typical humor) for the Irish in the Union war effort. This recruiting song, also from the above mentioned songster, was written to an old jig called "Paddy's Wedding." Finding the melody was the difficult part of putting this one together, taking nearly a year, though I was eventually steered in the direction of a book called "Old Irish Folk Music," compiled by P.W. Joyce, Dublin, 1909, which carried the tune. We are fortunate that Joyce, and a few others like him, traveled through Ireland from the mid-nineteenth century onward, collecting any kind of folk music they could find. He had several books of Irish music published, and I believe this one to have been one of his last. (Top)

Come, listen now, I'll tell you how I came to leave Killarney, O,
I'm one of the boys that fears no noise, and me name is Paddy Kearney, O;
My father's name it was the same and my grandfather before him, O!
He carried this gun in " '98," when the green flag floated o'er him, O.
Then, O, what fun to see them run, and to leave a name in story, O!
With my father's gun I'll follow the drum, and fight my way to glory, O.

When my father died, to his bedside he called meself, so clever, O!
Says he, "My son, now take this gun, and guard it well forever, O;"
But the dirty laws soon clapped their paws on me, the dirty blaggards, O!
So faix one day, I sailed away to the land of Yankee Doodle, O!
Then, O, what fun, etc.

When the rebels raised a hubbaboo, and of Sumter took possession, O,
Instead of our flag, they raised a rag--the standard of secession, O;
It's then I joined the "69th," my father's gun to shoulder, O!
For meself, you know, can slather the foe--a divil a one is boulder, O!
Then, O, what fun, etc.

I 'listed then with Meagher's men, the rebel spalpeens shooting, O,
In the bould brigade I'm Sergeant made, so here I'm back recruiting, O;
Then boys step out, the foe to rout; I'll lead you on to glory, O,
And if you're kilt, and your blood is spilt, your name will live in story, O!
Then, O, what fun, etc.

8. Meagher Is Leading The Irish Brigade (Anonymous)

"H.De Marsan, Publishers, 54 Chatham St., N.Y." is the only inscription at the bottom of this "broadside," or lyric sheet. This company printed hundreds of broadsides during the Civil War, and only a scant few list date or author. The aesthetic design of the sheet, and its lyrical content leave no doubt of its time period: that of the early 1860's. It did list, fortunately, the melody to which the words were written: "The Shamrock Shore." As one might imagine, there are several songs with this title, and the one I felt worked the best was also found in P.W. Joyce's "Old Irish Folk Music." Its interesting that only one phrase in the lyric, "the Eagle of Freedom shrieks loud in the air," makes even the vaguest reference to the American conflict, attesting to the fact many in the ranks of the Irish Brigade viewed the unit's formation as being primarily for the liberation of Ireland. Col. Kenneth Powers, historian of the 69th New York, was kind enough to provide me with copies of this and several other broadsides from the regiment's extensive archives, for which I am eternally grateful. (Top)


You, true sons of Erin, awake from your slumbers!
The war blast is sounding o'er valley and hill;
Too long you have slept in the bed of affliction..
Your moans pierce my heart, like a murmuring rill;
Your leaders were banished: yet hope has not left you,
Though firmly bound by the Conqueror's chain,
So, draw your swords quickly, while strength has been left you,
And make one bold dash for your freedom again!

Chorus: You true Sons of Erin, awake from your slumbers!
No longer leave Tyrants your valleys invade..
Let the long silent Harp vibrate its loud numbers;
Now Meagher is leading the Irish Brigade.

Oh! how can you slumber, submissively yielding,
While the Eagle of Freedom shrieks loud in the air,
And on strange battle-fields you your sabers are wielding?
No heroes or chieftain more noble are there;
On history's pages your fame is recorded;
Yet the proud Saxon traitor your green hills pollute,
And trampled the flag which they should have regarded,
So, strike for your freedom at tyrant's root.

What monster could look upon Erin's blue mountains
And view the gray fog looming up in the air..
Or sit, for a while, by her bright crystal fountains,
Without adding a tear of pure sympathy there?..
Or see her grand Castles with ivy surrounded,
Where now the lone cry of the night Owl is heard,
As her beautiful rivers with echo resounded,
To answer the voice of the romantic birds?..

The famed Robert Emmett by perjury smitten,
His cold blooded murder all nations could see:
Now it's time that his Epitaph should have been written,
And Erin once more be great, glorious and free;
With the worthy McManus, that Patriot martyr,
Cold, cold in the grave, though their ashes remain:
Yet their spirits forewarn the time is growing shorter,
When Erin's Green Banner will float o'er the main.

Remember the siege of sweet Limerick fair city,
When Sarsfield encountered the balance of power;
And her heroic daughters, both loyal and witty,
Saluted their foes with a hot boiling shower;
Is such Patriotism so easy forgotten,
While the blood of our forefathers courses thro' our veins?
No! their glory exists, though their bones may be rotten,
To conquer our foes yet as Brian did the Danes

9. Free And Green (Carl Funk, David Kincaid)

Following a visit to Ireland in 1980, Carl Funk, a young singer-songwriter from Seattle, felt compelled to write this song, expressing his vision of Ireland's tragedies and hopes, presenting it to me in basic form upon his return. Originally, the song's protagonist was "Captain Farrell," the same name from the old Irish folk-song "Whiskey In The Jar," which Carl had learned on the trip. I thought the song was brilliant, but thought that we ought to find a different, previously unused name for the captain. Days later he called saying he had just seen the name "Taggart" on the side of a moving company's van, and wondered if the name might work. I looked into it--the name was indeed an Irish one, and worked beautifully. For my part I did minor work to the vocal melody, composed the instrumental sections, arranged of the song structure and harmonies, and we soon had a finished song. Neither Carl or I had any knowledge of the Irish Brigade of the American Civil War at this time.
Eight years later we would learn of some very strange coincidences surrounding this song: First, that the uncommon, almost randomly chosen name turned out to have been a real person, of the same name and rank: Captain Samuel Taggart of Co. I, 116th PVI, Irish Brigade. Secondly, that he was as beloved by his men in real life as his fictional counterpart, and died on August 25th, 1864, at the battle of Ream's Station, VA, in the same manner as described in the song. Lastly, that eight years later I would unknowingly join the reenactment company portraying Taggart's men, and finally be made aware of these bizarre coincidences. Initially, I debated using the song on the album, as my purpose was to present a collection of only period songs of the Irish in the Civil War. I soon came to the conclusion that there seemed to be some unearthly forces at work with the song, compelling us to tell the world of Samuel Taggart's story, this being reason enough to justify putting it on the album. The song has become an anthem of sorts for the men in my company, and I don't think they would have ever forgiven me if I hadn't. (Top)
Capt. Samuel Taggart

Captain Taggart took the field
With his men as hard as steel
And we drove the bloody rebels to the sea
Before the guns were stilled
There were many hundreds killed
There's many an Irish girl sad tonight

When the smoke had cleared
It was just as we had feared
Captain Taggart lay wounded on the ground
With his head upon my knee
There he met eternity
I proudly closed his eyes and then I cried

Chorus:
Its whiskey in the mornin', whiskey in the night
Another Irish soldier-lad, has fought his final fight
We'll toast him till were drunk Boys, and dowse the candle light
Tell them Captain Taggart, is comin' home tonight

Well, we took his body home
And the drums and pipes did drone
And pulled a fine black casket through the streets
We told his grievin' wife
That he loved her more than life
And gave to his young son his father's sword

Now the people, they all dream
Of an Ireland free and green
Where nowhere can be heard the battle-cry
The fighting's gone too long
And it just drags on and on
I'd like to know some peace before I die


John Brown Songster 10. The Harp Of Old Erin & Banner Of Stars (Anonymous)

Another song from the "John Brown And The Union Right Or Wrong Songster," the writer of this lyric specified the old Irish melody "St. Patrick's Day." The lyric is typical of the "loftier," long-winded, poetic style of the Victorian age (as opposed to Joe English's more earthy style of the common man), and was exceedingly unwieldy to work with. Not many songs in this day and age have six to eight verses, with so many unmanageable syllables to quavers, presenting a real problem for an American folk-rock musician like myself, used to a more laid back approach to lyrics. The melody is one that has not only survived the passage of time, but seems to have remained popular throughout its history. A variation of it was used by Ludwig Van Beethoven, and I have found it in several Irish music collections going as far back as the 18th century. It is still played as a set-dance tune by Irish traditional musicians, and is one of my personal favorites. (Top)


The war trump has sounded, our rights are in danger;
Shall the brave sons on Erin be deaf to the call,
When Freedom demands of both native and stranger,
Their aid, lest the greatest of nations should fall?
Shall this banner, so dear to the exiled of the Gael,
By traitors and rebels in Anarchy's school,
Be trailed in the dust, disgraced in the vale,
While our people, the sovereign, in equity rule?

                                  

No! I swear by the love that we bear our old Sire-land,
And the vows we pledged to the home of the free,
As we'd sheath our swords in the foes of dear Ireland,
We will use them as freely 'gainst traitors to thee.
Need we fear for our cause, when true hearts uphold it?
See, the men of all nations now march to the wars!
And shall Erin's stout hearts stand by and behold it,
Nor strike in their might for the Banner of Stars?

No, no! with their life's blood they'll guard the rich treasure;
See how they respond to the call, --"Shoulder arms!"
Though endeared by those sacred ties, with love beyond measure,
Of bosom friends, children, and beauty's sweet charms,
Yet they leave all behind, and equip for the battle,
Between Freedom and Rapine, like true sons of Mars;
They'll conquer though traitors their cannon may rattle,
And bring back triumphant the Banner of Stars.

Oh, long may our flags wave in union together,
And the harp of green Erin still kiss the same breeze.
And brave every storm that beclouds the fair weather,
Till our Harp, like the Stars, floats o'er rivers and seas.
God prosper the bold hearts on both land and ocean,
Who go in defiance of danger and scars,
And send them safe home to their wives and their sweethearts,
With the Harp of old Erin and Banner of Stars!

11. The List Of Generals (Written and sung by Joe English)

This is the last of the songs on this album from Joe English's brilliant songster. It demonstrates the extreme to which his unshakable faith in the Union cause went, praising a list of commanders who, with the exception of one or two, are not treated so kindly by modern historians. The melody he chose is called "Doran's Ass," still popular today, although with the title and lyric of "The Spanish Lady." I found it with its original title in the book "Irish Street Ballads," by the great folk song collector/historian Colm O Lochlainn. A close variant of this melody, popular both in the mid-19th century and today, is "Tim Finigan's Wake." (Top)

Since first the dirty Southern traitors, this foul Secession War began,
Whin all them treacherous alligators, comminced the row at Charleston,
Columbia's flag--the Star of Freedom--still has ruled on land and say;
Fools may rave, but never heed them--to bate our foes we know the way.
Chorus--Whack, fal de ral, etc.

Volunteers we have by thousands, ginerals trusty, true, and brave;
For the union they arouse, and all would die our flag to save.
Butler down at New Orleans, he kept the rebel host at bay;
On them there to draw the reins, he quickly showed he knew the way.
Chorus--Whack, fal de ral, etc.

Gallant Meade, a hero truly, at Gettysburg the foe met he;
And there he gave them Ballyhooly--Oh, how are you, General Lee?
Rosecrans, a soldier thorough--that's a fact none can gainsay--
The rebels met at Murfreesboro, to rout them there he knew the way.
Chorus--Whack, fal de ral, etc.

Little Sigel, for the Germans, he has bravely stood the test;
Dix and Banks, Burnside and Sherman, all have nobly done their best.
Gineral Meagher has shown his mettle, Corcoran, too, was in the fray;
The foes of Uncle Sam to settle, the Irish boys they know the way.
Chorus--Whack, fal de ral, etc.

Thin there's Gineral Daniel Sickles, from the field ne'er stirs a peg,
The foes catastrophe he tickles--gallant Dan has lost a leg
Gineral grant he gives them thunder; at Vicksburg he won the day;
Then to make the foe knock under, at Chattanooga, knew the way.
Chorus--Whack, fal de ral, etc.

But to call the list of fame, I haven't room now in my song;
For, to go through each Gineral's name, 'twould keep me singing all night long.
But of one more I'll will be telling, and who should be restored straightway,
To put and end to this rebellion--Little Mac he knows the way.
Chorus--Whack, fal de ral, etc.

12. Pat Murphy Of Meagher's Brigade (Anonymous)
To my knowledge, this is the only other song on The Irish Volunteer to have ever been recorded previously, although in a condensed version, by other artists. It has a fairly complex history behind it, and seems to have maintained a place in the repertoire of folk singers since its inception during the Civil War, as it appears in several printed and recorded collections of folk music. Through the years the song has undergone changes. The most commonly known version in recent times is the condensed one mentioned above, with a slight variation in the title ("Pat Murphy Of The Irish Brigade"), only four of the original verses, and a repeating chorus. The version presented here has six verses, each with a different chorus, and I believe it is the original. It is another of the H. De Marsan broadsides from the armory of the 69th New York, without date or author listed. The song later turned up, putting any doubt about the song's date to rest, in "Fattie Stewart's Comic Songster," published by Dick and Fitzgerald, NY, 1863. It is identical in every way to the De Marsan broadside except for the following inscription below the title:

A Tribute to "Meagher's Men."
Sung with the highest level of success by the Comic Vocalist of the Day,
Tony Pastor.

The melody listed, "Think of your head in the morning," is described as a "Comic Song" on the Confederate songsheet on which it was found, and was published by B. Duncan & Co., Columbia, S.C., Copyright 1862. Apparently a temperance song, its author is Charlie F. Ward, "4th Ky Regt," and the cover page carries this inscription:

Brig. General Thomas F. Meagher


Respectfully dedicated to all the COMMISSARIES, QUARTERMASTERS, and SURGEONS in the Confederate Army.

The melody is actually, not surprisingly, an older Irish tune called "Sean Buioe," which from Irish translates to "Yellow John," and can also be found in O'Neill's. This is song is another of the many examples of how songs changed hands during the Civil War, with each side writing its own lyric. (Top)

'Twas the night before battle: and gathered in groups,
The soldiers lay close in their quarters;
They were thinking no doubt, of the dear ones at home..
Of mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters..
With his pipe in his mouth, sat a dashing young blade,
And a song he was lilting so gaily:
It was honest Pat Murphy, of Meagher's Brigade,
And he sang of the Sprig of Shillaly

Och, murdher! says Pat, it's a shame for to see
Brothers fighting in such a queer manner:
But I'll fight till I die, (if I shouldn't be kilt)
For America's bright Starry Banner.
Now, if it was only John Bull to the fore,
I'd rush into battle quite gaily;
For the spalpeen I'd rap with a heart an' a half,
With my illigant Sprig of Shillaly!

Jeff. Davis, you thief! if I had you but here,
Your beautiful plans I'd be ruinin':
Faix! I'd give ye a taste of me bayonet, bedad!
For thryin' to burst up the Union:
There's a crowd in the North, too, an' they're just as bad:
Abolitionist spouters so scaly --
For throubling the naigers I think they desarve,
A Whack from a Sprig of Shillaly

The morning soon came, and poor Paddy awoke,
On the Rebels to have satisfaction:
The drummers were beating the divil's tattoo,
Calling the boys into action.
Then, the Irish Brigade in the battle was seen,
Their blood, in our cause, shedding freely;
With their bayonet-charges they rushed on the foe,
With a shout for the Land of Shillaly!

The battle was over..the dead lay in heaps:
Pat Murphy lay bleeding and gory:
A hole through his head, from rifleman's shot,
Had finished his passion for glory;
No more in the camp, shall his laughter be heard,
Or his voice singing ditties so gaily;
Like a hero he died..for the Land of the Free.
Far away from the land of Shillaly!

Then, surely, Columbia can never forget,
While valor and fame hold communion,
How nobly the brave Irish Volunteers fought,
In defense of the flag of our Union:
And, if ever Old Ireland for freedom should strike,
We'll a helping hand offer quite freely:
And the Stars and the Stripes shall be seen alongside,
Of the Flag of the Land of Shillaly!

Acknowledgements:

My thanks to Rosemary Cullen of the John Hay Library of Brown University, Providence, RI, who provided me with the bulk of the titles on this album, and to the unknown librarian at the New York Library of the Performing Arts, who pointed me in that direction. Also to Col. Kenneth Powers, historian of the 69th New York, and friend and fellow researcher Jerry Ernst, who also has a fine website dedicated to Civil War Music, for his seemingly inexhaustible energies and great contributions.


All songs traditional, arranged by David Kincaid; Copyright (c) 1995 by Haunted Field Music (BMI), except "Free And Green" composed by Carl Funk and David Kincaid; which is Copyright (c) 1980 by Haunted Field Music/Guemes Music (BMI).

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