Common Soldiers Writing Song: “Oh, How Do You Like The Army?”

I’ve been reading through some Civil War songs and poetry, looking for something suitable for Women’s History Month that I haven’t shared before. Though I’ve found some splendid pieces, they are rather sad and fully of sensibility and 19th Century sentiment. (Basically long, fully described death scenes with brave nurses attending). That didn’t seem like a good way to start off this week…so how about a classic Civil War humor song instead? (And I’ll keep looking for some inspiring and encouraging poetry about women’s roles during the war.)

In this soldier-written poetry/lyrics, the officers get criticized by the common private and if you’re curious about the tune, there’s a link to a recording by Bobby Horton at the end.

Cheers to a new week and plenty of history with plain and eagle buttons!

Oh soldiers, I’ve concluded to make a little song,
And if I tell no falsehood there can be nothing wrong,
If any be offended at what I have to sing,
Then surely his own conscience applies the bitter sting.

Chorus:

Oh, how do you like the Army
The brass-mounted Army,
The high-falutin’ Army,
Where eagle buttons rule?

Whisky is a monster, and ruins great and small,
But in our noble Army, Headquarters gets it all;
They drink it when there’s danger, although it seems too hard,
But if a private touches it, they put him “under guard.”

Chorus

And when we meet the ladies, we’re bound to go it sly,
Headquarters are the pudding, and the privates are the pie!
They issue standing orders to keep us all in line,
For if we had a showing, the brass would fail to shine.

Chorus

At every big plantation or negro-holder’s yard,
Just to save the property, the general puts a guard;
The sentry’s then instructed to let no private pass –
The rich man’s house and table are fixed to suit the “brass.”

Chorus

I have to change this story, so beautiful and true,
But the poor man and widow must have a line or two;
For them no guard is stationed, their fences oft are burned,
And property molested, as long ago you’ve learned.

Chorus

The Army’s now much richer than when the war begun,
It furnishes three tables where once it had but one;
The first is richly loaded with chickens, goose, and duck,
The rest with pork and mutton, the third with good old buck.

Chorus

Our generals eat the poultry, and buy it very cheap,
Our colonels and our majors devour the hog and sheep;
The privates are contented (except when they can steal),
With beef and corn bread plenty to make a hearty meal.

Chorus

Sometimes we get so hungry that we’re bound to press a pig,
Then the largest stump in Dixie we’re sure to have to dig
And when we fret, an officer who wears long-legged boots,
With neither judge nor jury, puts us on “double roots.”

Chorus

These things, and many others, are truly hard to me,
But still I’ll be contented, and fight for Liberty!
And when the war is over, oh what a jolly time!
We’ll be our own commanders and sing much sweeter rhymes.

Chorus

We’ll see our loving sweethearts, and sometimes kiss them, too,
We’ll eat the finest rations, and bid old buck adieu,
There’ll be no generals with orders to compel,
Long boots and eagle buttons, forever fare ye well!

Final Chorus:

And thus we’ll leave the Army,
The brass-mounted Army,
The high-falutin’ Army,
Where eagle buttons rule.

About Sarah Kay Bierle

I’m Sarah Kay Bierle, historian, editor, and historical fiction writer. When sharing history, I try to keep the facts interesting and understandable. History is about real people, real actions, real effects and it should inspire us today.
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3 Responses to Common Soldiers Writing Song: “Oh, How Do You Like The Army?”

  1. Jillian says:

    LOVE IT. 🙂

  2. Robert Rainey says:

    ?

  3. Matthew J. Watros says:

    Very funny. I like it.

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