[Article contributed by Lesley Johnson Hager]
From The Virginian, Abingdon, Virginia
Uncertain Date, Late 1860s
A Poem by Sgt. John Keller Deadmore
'Tis little young people know, What we poor soldiers undergo.
When called upon to take up arms, To guard our country from all harms-
At break of day the morning gun, At reveille the fife & drum,
Disturb the soldiers' sweet repose, And tell him to put on his clothes.
The sergeant mopes his way about, Exclaiming, "come boys, quick turn out!"
As well by practice as design, In front & rear he forms a line.
Eyes right, Eyes left, steady's the word, The captain then draws out his sword;
The sergeant then takes out his roll, Our names are called, the absent told.
Often young upstarts have command. With coats laced up & sword in hand.
They speak & act like nabobs, or Some king or prince or emperor.
Sometimes in office bad man are, Who lose their men by want of care.
And bring them to a dreadful end, And let them die without a friend,
Sometimes we lie upon the ground, Where no kind shelter can be found-
Sometimes in rain, sometimes in snow, Where sleet descends & tempests blow.
The surgeon is a man of skiil [skill], And gives the sick each day a pil' [pill],
And if perchance it don't act well, He'll curse & d-n [damn] our souls to he-ll!
And so to grub we have enough, Altho' our beef is often tough,
But of this we don't complain, For fear 'twill never come again.
And now a line or two I'll give, To tell you how the soldiers live;
And first they live on diet strong, So as to march & hold out long.
Beef we got in lots & squares, But bacon only comes in shares-
But one time in a week or two- But beef comes daily, tough & blue.
Molasses, sugar, coffee, rice, Alternate weeks we get them twice.
We lived quite well for twelve months past, God only knows how long 'twill last.
There was a time when grub was low, Ere we left Laurel Hill you know;
We marched nine days & ten nights too, Before that race was run quite through.
Our noble colonel led us out, He said he could without a doubt,
And led us 'tward the Yankee land, Along the edge of Maryland.
We came to Monterey to rest, Altho' that place was not the best;
We here remained a week or two, To Greenbrier river then we flew.
Here we spent of days twoscore, And then were ordered to Dunmore,
There to lounge upon the grass, And guard a rugged mountain pass.
Soon we felt a keen northwester, And there were ordered to Winchester,
There to spent the winter through, In cotton houses, white & blue.
We rested there for one month only, And then were ordered o'er to Romney,
There to meet the Yankee rabble, Who, when they saw us did skedaddle.
About the 4th of January, We fought at Capon Bridge or Ferry,
We burnt the bridge & played the d-l, [devil] And then returned to camp to revel.
Then back to Winchester again, Thro' mud & sleet & snow & rain,
The tramp was dreadful, but however, Soldiers never mind the weather.
At Kernstown if you remember, The Yankees thought we would surrender;
But fooled they were when one & all, Thought they would beat us to the wall.
We beat them there by a few paces, And poured our fire into their faces,
'Twas there a squad, with better skill, Cross-fired upon us from a hill.
And rather than to Yankees yield, We moved our forces from the field,
Some were wounded, some were killed, Some crippled as we left the field.
Some were captured as you know, But have returned to meet the foe,
McCellian thought a trick he'd play, And capture Richmond right away.
Lee called his force for the attack, And in the call awoke "old Jack."
This hero came & struck a blow, On their right flank as you know.
The Yankees found out he was there. And left the field in wild career.
Pope thought that he could get in still, By sneaking round in Gordonsville.
"Stonewall" was there when Pope concluded, "Old Jack,' could not be eluded,
He slipped away as sly as a do[o]rmouse, And changed his base to Orange Court-House.
But Jackson caught him on the way. And Yankeedom now rules the day.
I think we'll try old Pope again, If we can find him on the plain.
But friend I'll stop, my tale is o'er. And sign myself- J.K. Deadmore"
Source: The Virginian newspaper from Abingdon, Wash. Co. VA area. Date: Civil War era, Author: Sergeant John Keller Deadmore, of the 37th VA, hometown was Abingdon, VA, Caretaker of newspaper poem, William Beazley/TX
Note* According to the Sergeant John Keller's Civil War records he was wounded at the Battle of the 2nd Manassas. The family story is that he returned home after the war but died by about 1869. Transcribed by Lesley Hager July 2003