Bay Billy

DESCRIPTION: As the 22nd Maine struggles against Early at Fredericksburg, orders come that a battery must be taken. The regiment repeatedly tries and fails. The colonel is shot down. In the next attack, his riderless horse leads the charge and the battery is captured
AUTHOR: Words: Frank H. Gassaway
EARLIEST DATE: 1886 (Potter, _My Recitations_, according to Gray)
KEYWORDS: horse Civilwar death battle
FOUND IN:
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Gray, pp. 166-170, "Bay Billy" (1 text)
NOTES: Frank Gassaway seems to have specialized in Civil War bathos; his other relatively well-known poem was "The Pride of Battery B." Gray maintains that this was a popular poem. Possibly true in the nineteenth century. Thankfully, that has ceased to be the case; Granger's Index to Poetry lists not one Gassaway poem.
This piece is particularly irritating because it's completely false. Checking the Fredericksburg Order of Battle in Francis Winthrop Palfrey's The Antietam and Fredericksburg 1882 (I use the 2002 Castle Books reprint), pp. 198-210, the 22nd Maine wasn't at Fredericksburg. Nor, as it turned out, was it at Chancellorsville (during which battle there was again fighting around Fredericksburg, involving the Confederate general Jubal A. Early). In fact, the 22nd Maine never served in the east at all! Internet searches reveal it to have been a nine month regiment which performed its active service in Louisiana -- and, in its entire existence, suffered only nine men killed in battle.
I do not know if Gassaway knew this, and decided to use an obscure regiment for his nonsense, or if he didn't know this and was smoking something particularly strong the day he excreted this, but I can only hope that it will be mercifully forgotten. - RBW
Last updated in version 2.5
File: Gray166

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