Judy Cook, Folksinger

Richmond is a Hard Road to Travel

Author: Thompson / Emmett 1863

Source: Andy Wallace

Notes: 190 seconds is for 4 1/2 verses w/chorus. Emmett's well known minstrel song provided the tune for many political and propaganda songs of the Civil War Era. This one was made up by John R. Thompson, editor of the Southern Literary Messenger, and published therein, probably in early 1863, when the war was still going reasonably well for the Confederacy. Here's a verse by verse annotation, with dates and who's whos. 1. Self explanatory 2. First Battle of Bull Run (Manassas), July 21, 1861. Gen. Irvin McDowell commanded the Union forces, which were routed. Confederate generals mentioned were Joseph E. Johnston and PGT Beauregard. It was at Bull Run that Gen. Thomas J. Jackson won the nickname "Stonewall". 3. The Valley Campaigns, March-April, 1862. The "Woolly Horse" was the notorious Gen John C. Fremont, Commander of the Mountain Dept. of the Union Army. This debacle ended his military career, but he went on to dubious fame after the war with get rich quick schemes out West. Nathaniel P. "Commissary" Banks, Commander of the V Corps, Army of the Potomac, was then sent to the Shennandoah Valley, but had no better luck against Jackson. The Commissary moniker comes from the amount of supplies the Rebs took from him. Decisive battle was at Cedar Mountain. 4. The decisive, or rather indecisive event here was the standoff battle between the Union ironclad Monitor and the CSS Virginian (erstwhile USS Merrimack) at Hampton Roads on March 9, 1862. It's true that the fortifications at Drewry's Bluff on the James River prevented the Union from advancing on Richmond by water, but the Monitor prevented the South from breaking the Union coastal blockade, dubbed the Anaconda (because it snaked from the mouth of the Mississippi to the Chesapeake Bay), and the South had to scuttle the Virginian when they evacuated Norfolk a few months later. This was the end of any naval threat by the CSA and prevented European countries, particularly Britain, from entering the war on the Southern side, much as they wanted the cotton. 5. The Peninsular Campaign, March - July, 1862 (peninsula formed by James and Rappahannock Rivers). Gen. George B. Mc Clellan, dubbed the "Young Napolean" by his admirers, was a brilliant military organizer, loved by his troops, and a terrible battle commander, with a pathological aversion to committing the army he trained to combat. (Thus the spades, used to dig trenches below, while using reconnaissance balloons above.) The opposing CSA generals named were James Longstreet (Robert E. Lee's second-in-command) and A.P. Hill, two of the Confederacy's ablest commanders. McClellan was also Lincoln's nemesis and the President canned him after the failed Campaign. He reassumed command after Pope's fiasco (verse 6), but was fired again when he failed to pursue Lee and destroy him at Anteitam, in Sept. of '62. He ran against Lincoln in the Presidential race in 1864, luckily losing, though not by much. 6. Second Battle of Bull Run (Manassas), Sept. 2, 1862. Gen. John Pope led the Union Army of the Potomac to defeat yet again and was relieved of command on Sept. 2. (An anachronism here -- the Emancipation Proclamation wasn't actually published until January 1, 1863.) 7. Fredericksburg Campaign, Nov. - Dec. 1862, Battle, December 13. Ambrose Burnside reluctantly accepted command after Pope, but didn't feel he was up to the job. He was right. He tried to cross the Rappahannock, using pontoon bridges, but was repulsed by the rebs, entrenched on Marye's Heights under Longstreet, with horrendous losses. He was relieved of command as a result. 8. "Contraband" = runaway or escaped slave. Postscript It took the North more than two years to finally take Richmond. No other serious attempts were made until Grant took over as Commander in Chief in March of 1864. He relentlessly, and bloodily, pursued his goal - at Spotsylvania, Wilderness, Cold Harbor and the Seige of Petersburg, through all of 1864 and into 1865. On April 2, 1865, Richmond fell and was in flames the next day.