Union Soldier's Alphabet, The

DESCRIPTION: "A is our army so true and so brave." The song cites Inspection, a hiding Lieutenant, Muster, Uncle Sam's ugly conscript, Veteran,.... The chorus says "I'd buy me a shirt if I had a greenback... I'd go for a soldier the bounty to jump"
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1964 (Moore-Southwest)
KEYWORDS: army battle Civilwar war humorous nonballad soldier wordplay
HISTORICAL REFERENCES:
Sep 19-20, 1863 - Battle of Chickamauga
September-November 1863 - Confederate siege of Chattanooga and Union victory
Dec 15-16, 1864 - Battle of Nashville
FOUND IN: US(So)
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Moore-Southwest 181, "The Alphabet" (1 text, 1 tune)
Roud #21721
NOTES: Moore-Southwest has "F is the flogging that [Union Major General George H] Thomas gave [Confederate Major General John Bell] Hood" at the Battle of Chickamauga[?]. While Hood was wounded at Chickamauga, the Confederates won. If the reference is to Chattanooga, Hood was recovering from his amputation and was not in that battle. - BS
The reference to Chickamauga is just barely understandable and makes some slight sense. Braxton Bragg was the Confederate commander and W. S. Rosecrans the head of the Union army. But an assault headed by James Longstreet and spearheaded by Hood's division broke the Union forces in two. Rosecrans fled the field with half the army; Thomas took charge of the remaining Union forces, holding off the overwhelming Confederate attacks and earning the nickname "The Rock of Chickamauga." So although the Confederates beat the Union forces, one could perhaps argue that Thomas beat (off) Hood.
As Ben notes, Hood was recovering from wounds at the time of Chattanooga -- and Longstreet's forces, including Hood's division, weren't at Chattanooga anyway; they were trying to force Ambrose Burnside out of Nashville. So Chattanooga cannot be meant.
It is much more reasonable to assume that the reference is to the Battle of Nashville in late 1864. Hood, now in command of the army that had been Bragg's, had invaded Tennessee with an army that he had done a fine job of ruining. Thomas, assigned by General Sherman to guard Tennessee, smashed the Rebel army completely; it was the last real field battle of the war, and it destroyed Hood's Confederate force. Hood resigned, but the war, already all but over, from that time on was irretrievably lost.
This doesn't appear to be the only "Union Alphabet"; WolfAmericanSongSheets, #2408, p. 162, "Union Alphabet" (1 reference) begins "A is for Anderson, both gallant and brave" (referring to Robert Anderson, commander of Fort Sumter); this appears to be a separate song. The tune is listed as "Continental March." - RBW
Last updated in version 3.5
File: MooSW181

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