McClellan Poetry: happytalk doggerel

One of the odd things about war in the media since 1965 has been the absence of the bright/happy military feature in newspapers and magazines ... "the lighter side of," as it were.

The Civil War newspapers and magazines were brimming with cheerful "filler" and one of the staples of this type was comic verse. I wanted to do a few weeks of this to give a sense of how frivolous writers and editors could get - at least compared to today's sensibilities.

This is an anonymous offering that appeared in a newspaper somewhere and was anthologized in 1867 in Frank Moore's Anecdotes, Poetry and Incidents of the War: North and South; 1860 – 1865. You can read it on pages 9 and 10 hyperlinked on pages accessible after you make certain certifications and agreements *here*.

The poem serves no other purpose but fun. McClellan, Buell, and Halleck, separately or in combination, loom large as terrors for this fleeing Rebel.


The shades of night were falling fast,
As through a Southern village passed
A youth, who bore, not over nice,
A banner with the gay device,

His hair was red, his toes beneath
Peeped, like an acorn from its sheath,
While with a frightened, voice he sang
A burden strange to Yankee tongue,

He saw no household fire where he
Might warm his tod or hominy;
Beyond the Cordilleras shone,
And from his lips escaped a groan,

"Oh! stay," a cullered pusson said,
"An' on dis bossom res' your hed!"
The octoroon she winked her eye,
But still he answered, with a sigh,

"Beware McClellan, Buell, and Banks,
Beware of Halleck's deadly ranks!".
This was the planter's last Good Night;
The chap replied, far out of sight,

At break of day, as several boys
from Maine, New York and Illinois
Were moving Southward, in the air
They heard these accents of despair,

A chap was found and at his side
A bottle, showing how he died,
Still grasping in his hand of ice
That banner with the strange device,

There in the twilight, thick and gray,
Considerably played out he lay;
And through the vapor, gray and thick,
A voice fell like a rocket-stick,