Civil War Battle Ballads

by Tom Flannery

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04:36
2.
03:51
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04:31
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04:18
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03:32
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04:12
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04:50
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01:56

about

There is nothing glamorous about war. General William Tecumseh Sherman, who was certainly in a position to know, called it “all hell”. Too many of the songs of the American Civil War painted the conflict in melodramatic, somehow romantic terms….as if the brave charges depicted on countless murals were some sort of bloodless, chivalric game played out for the illustrators.

There is nothing romantic in these songs. A nationwide cataclysm that caused the death of some 600,000 men might inspire some to heights of martial marching music and barely restrained jingoism, but not little ol’ me.

The Civil War fractured a nation…and in many ways we’re still struggling to put the 2 sides back together. There’s a reason a current electoral map looks like something taken off the desk of the War Department in 1861.

And on a lighter note (thank God), hopefully a few good tunes are contained herein. And free too….always the best kind.

Slàinte….

-tf
12/5/2008

credits

released December 5, 2008

All songs written by Tom Flannery
recorded at the Home Office
remastered October 2012
by Tom Borthwick at Sound Investment Studios

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about

Tom Flannery Scranton, Pennsylvania

"One of the most gifted songwriters to emerge at the turn of the century"
-- The All Music Guide

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Track Name: Bull Run
I wanted to get in
before I missed the fun
the ladies looking at me
like I was the only one
oh the time I'd have
with my stories of war
and how I licked the rebels
and went back for more

Gallant charges on horseback
and using the bayonet
stopping to have my picture made
with nary a regret
the bloodied will all rise again
for a mural on a wall
and I'll bow and tip my cap
and catch every minnie ball

Of course this was before artillery
opened up on poor old me
and tore my body clean in two
the way it's built to do
what fools we were
to pray for war
now I'm just a frame
inside your drawer

When I look across Bull Run creek
I see much the same today
young boys ambushed with the flag
when they look the other way
I'm the ghost of old wars past
a grizzled vet by now
dying cures what ails you
no matter when or how

So when you hear the distant drums
and rich men beat their chests
and then cower in their bunkers
after sending all the rest
seek not the marble men
who have come before
and caused so many mothers
to drip tears on the floor

Of course this was before artillery
opened up on poor old me
and tore my body clean in two
the way it's built to do
what fools we were
to pray for war
now I'm just a frame
inside your drawer

When I look across Bull Run creek
I see much the same today
young boys ambushed with the flag
when they look the other way
I'm the ghost of old wars past
a grizzled vet by now
dying cures what ails you
no matter when or how
Track Name: Shiloh
Will I hold my ground
will I hold my ground
will I hold my ground
at Shiloh

am I honor bound
am I honor bound
am I honor bound
at Shiloh

Is my love enough
to keep me from the bluff
but if it brings me home
my fear will I own
at Shiloh

Can you hear me still
can you hear me still
can you hear me still
from Shiloh

When I whisper your name
when I whisper your name
when I whisper your name
from Shiloh

is duty and honor bound
to staying above the ground
or will I die right here
while others thump and cheer
at Shiloh

they say the word means "place of peace"
well I don't know 'bout that
I seen the elephant the first time
then laid myself down flat

Don't want to see no more
don't want to see no more
don't want to see no more
at Shiloh

had enough of war
had enough of war
had enough or war
at Shiloh

All I want is home
and some fields to roam
untouched by what I've seen
running through that stream
at Shioh

oh the men who sent me here
sit safely far away
with big words they describe it all
praise the Lord and live another day
at Shiloh
Track Name: Antietam
I was baptized in the Antietam
preacher said I was good to go
said the Lord'd been here once
and put on quite a show
said we needed a good cleansing
then he cracked open a beer
said son do you realize
just what happened here

My parents were born and raised
you can't choose where you're spit out
daddy worked the railroads
left mamma with all the doubt
she said the house was haunted
with dying union boys
and she'd sit up until the dawn
complaining about the noise

Sharpsburg...Antietam
or by any other name
you can call it what you will
it was a bad day just the same

Daddy didn't know what to do
so he'd take her by the hand
and force her out into these fields
to make her understand
that the war is surely over
you can look it up he said
the living go on living
and the dead they remain dead

So I grew up in a bottle
moved on to amphetimines
figured I'd take my chances
but got stuck in between
daddy died in '90
right before the first gulf war
mamma said don't you dare boy
but I went and joined the corps

Sharpsburg...Antietam
or by any other name
you can call it what you will
it was a bad day just the same

I came home a little later
missing pieces of my mind
I'd sleep out in bloody lane
when I needed to unwind
started to hear the same things
that mamma said she heard
I'd seen the ghosts myself sir
now their company I preferred

It's a big ol' shitty world
it's kill or be killed
look around you mister
guns lining these hills
you wanna get out of here
you gotta cut your way through
too much water under that bridge
too much that we got used to

Sharpsburg...Antietam
or by any other name
you can call it what you will
it was a bad day just the same
Track Name: Chancellorsville
Joe Hooker is our leader
he takes his whiskey strong
but Lee got in his head
and made him sing this song

singing
there I was
here I go
outta my way
you're too damn slow

They say he got knocked out
by a cannonball
and 'twas brandy that revived him
and again made him fall

singing
there I was
here I go
outta my way
you're too damn slow

Stonewall turned our flank
and the Dutchmen turned and fled
I borrowed a dead man's canteen
but the water was all red

Gave as good as we got
and again we're on our way
back to where we started
to retreat another day

Knit another name
in that damned battle flag
Chancellorsville can go to hell
I'll get to heaven stag

singing
there I was
here I go
outta my way
you're too damn slow

throw dirt on the dead men
give the wounded men some air
toss 'em some hard tack
and leave them lying there

Chancellorsville
I've had my fill
if you don't do it
then someone will
too old to march
too young to die
I'm only sorry
that I can't fly
Track Name: Gettysburg
Wanna see the marble men
and the guns of war
so I walk among the ghosts
and the trinket stores

Get behind a double decker bus
filled with chaperones in blue
trying to keep the troops in line
like the officers used to do

The dead don't rise they burrow some
wait for the carnival to be done
orators urge the fight once more
out here on this killing floor

The minnie balls and the cannister
the medal detector crews
weighted down with booty
and designer marching shoes

Shake hands with Lincoln sir
you'll find him on the square
wearing a pair of Nike's
with flowers in his hair

Charging up the rocky hill
a clenched fist to die and kill
bug on the ground was a private in a corps
out here on this killing floor

come with me
come with me
home to Gettysburg
come with me
come with me
home to Gettysburg

Electoral map...seccession states
they say we've come so far
how come both still look the same
on the frontseat of my car?

I've bled not a drop for my country sir
but I feel when others do
and I often wonder....in '63
if they asked me too....

I'm so tired of thanks and praise
and tripping over unknown graves
to hell with your god of war
out here on this killing floor

come with me
come with me
home to Gettysburg
come with me
come with me
home to Gettysburg

So when I drive down Baltimore St
does it matter worth a damn?
that I sometimes cry for me not them
at the kind of man I am

When dusk it settles out here
and the leaves just start to turn
and I'm alone I can hear it all
the bits we've never earned

come with me
come with me
home to Gettysburg
come with me
come with me
home to Gettysburg
Track Name: Chickamauga
The word itself comes straight from hell
Chickamauga say it well
Chattanooga Tennessee
an infernal place..please leave me be

Sometimes I shake in the middle of the night
and my wife will hold me oh so tight
until the morning crawls around
this quiet little mining town

She'll ask about the things I'd seen
the friends I lost at age nineteen
and what I'd done with my own hands
that only a soldier understands

Chickamauga
Chickamauga
why won't you go away
why won't you go away
why won't you go away
from here

You'd think that time is all it takes
but time grows old and te memories ache
and wounds that the naked eye can't see
fester and push love away from me

My children are grown and have gone their way
years and years of nothing to say
they come home like ghosts and float right past
myself, my chair, and my whiskey glass

It was 2 days in 1863
that took the good from inside of me
and turned the world into a fearsome place
that the hand of god could not erase

Chickamauga
Chickamauga
why won't you go away
why won't you go away
why won't you go away
from here
Track Name: The Wilderness
I can't move
it's dark out here
full of doubt
and full of fear
just another scrap
won't amount to much
'cept never again
will I feel your touch

can you get me out of the wilderness?
can you get me out of the wilderness?

Saw the flames
little while ago
moving like a snake
through the undergrowth
I heard the boys
it got to first
calling for mother
ravaged by thirst

can you get me out of the wilderness?
can you get me out of the wilderness?

Screams only meant
for God to judge
and to ask why
he holds a grudge
for boys fighting
to make others free
Lord why you doing
this to me

can you get me out of the wilderness?
can you get me out of the wilderness?

can you let this cup pass from my lips
I don't want to die out here
burned up in the flames of hell
a wretched volunteer

What good to love
with this in store
lock me up
I'll kick down the door
but my legs are gone
shot all away
here I fell
and here I'll stay

can you get me out of the wilderness?
can you get me out of the wilderness?

can you let this cup pass from my lips
I don't want to die out here
burned up in the flames of hell
a wretched volunteer
Track Name: Cold Harbor
Pin my name to the back of my coat
this last entry have I willed
June 3rd, Virginia, 1864
"Mother, I was killed"
See it coming like the rising sun
or a storm passing by
smell the blood in the air
I'm so lonesome I could cry

a curse upon Cold Harbor
a stain upon the land
a curse upon Cold Harbor
won't you fight me like a man
you can kill me if you can
you can kill me if you can

You think I'm close to cracking up?
you think I'm gonna fall apart?
just wait 'till that rebel cannister comes
and plows right through my heart
You can hang that picture on your wall
you can stick me in a frame
another used up country boy
covered with pieces of someone else's brain

a curse upon Cold Harbor
a stain upon the land
a curse upon Cold Harbor
won't you fight me like a man
a curse upon Cold Harbor
won't you kill me if you can
won't you kill me if you can

smash my head off of breastworks
just like I'm a battering ram
you don't know what the hell you're doing
you don't even know who I am

Stick your romance up your arses
and your flag where the sun don't shine
move your own self to Richmond
leave all of me to mine
If this war ever ends
and I pass this way again
please strike me blind and dumb
don't want to see or remember when

a curse upon Cold Harbor
a stain upon the land
a curse upon Cold Harbor
won't you fight me like a man
you can kill me if you can
you can kill me if you can

Pin my name to the back of my coat
this last entry have I willed
June 3rd, Virginia, 1864
"Mother, I was killed"
Track Name: Franklin
My great-granddaddy in black and white
just back from Tennessee
trouser leg flapping in the breeze
from a minnie ball in the knee
they say he'd stare into the fire
and tear out his own hair
from what he'd seen at Franklin
and the things that he did there

oh Frankin Tennessee
Why you still scaring me?
Frankin Tennessee
won't you leave me be

Hood ordered them across that field
two miles of open ground
silently they closed up ranks
as the Yankees shot them down
some reached a salient in the front
and it was hand to hand
from the view of 150 years
who among us understands?

oh Frankin Tennessee
Why you still scaring me?
Frankin Tennessee
won't you leave me be

They say that morphine dulled his pain
and drink dulled all the rest
and that all learned to be frightened
when he bellowed from his breast
family turned to rebels
and friends to bounty men
then he'd hang his head in shame
and do it all again

oh Frankin Tennessee
Why you still scaring me?
Frankin Tennessee
won't you leave me be

So the glory was in Gettysburg
where Pickett made his name
by losing his division
to a massed wall of flame
but more men fell at Franklin
and it went on and on
minutes into hours
until near everyone was gone

He died by his own hand
in 1884
he traveled back to Frankin
and laid on the killing floor
said he wanted to see the other side
where the glory it remains
so he put on his blue uniform
and put a bullet in his brain

oh Frankin Tennessee
Why you still scaring me?
Frankin Tennessee
won't you leave me be

What hell's do we create on earth
when men they die and kill
old men in photo albums
and young ones forever still
far away from their homes
and the love awaiting there
duty and other's bidding
another unanswered prayer

oh Frankin Tennessee
Why you still scaring me?
Frankin Tennessee
won't you leave me be
oh Frankin Tennessee
Why you still scaring me?
Frankin Tennessee
won't you leave me be