Grayson and Whittier: ‘He is Coming to Us Dead’

Do not treat him harshly, boys / It contains our darling Jack
He went away as you boys are  / This way he’s coming back
He broke his poor old mother’s heart / Her fears have all come true
She said, it’s the way that he’d come back  / If he joined the boys in blue

A bit of down-home peacenikery from the famous fiddle-guitar duo. I love the jawing at the end — “a lotta them come back that way too!”

The collection of sides the pair recorded is online. Song by Gussie Lord Davis, 1899.

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One comment

  1. The practice of enlisting mash-fed rubes to use as cannon fodder has a pretty long history:
    “If I be not ashamed of my soldiers, I am a soused
    gurnet. I have misused the king’s press damnably.
    I have got, in exchange of a hundred and fifty
    soldiers, three hundred and odd pounds. I press me
    none but good house-holders, yeoman’s sons; inquire
    me out contracted bachelors, such as had been asked
    twice on the banns; such a commodity of warm slaves,
    as had as lieve hear the devil as a drum; such as
    fear the report of a caliver worse than a struck
    fowl or a hurt wild-duck. I pressed me none but such
    toasts-and-butter, with hearts in their bellies no
    bigger than pins’ heads, and they have bought out
    their services; and now my whole charge consists of
    ancients, corporals, lieutenants, gentlemen of
    companies, slaves as ragged as Lazarus in the
    painted cloth, where the glutton’s dogs licked his
    sores; and such as indeed were never soldiers, but
    discarded unjust serving-men, younger sons to
    younger brothers, revolted tapsters and ostlers
    trade-fallen, the cankers of a calm world and a
    long peace, ten times more dishonourable ragged than
    an old faced ancient: and such have I, to fill up
    the rooms of them that have bought out their
    services, that you would think that I had a hundred
    and fifty tattered prodigals lately come from
    swine-keeping, from eating draff and husks.
    A mad
    fellow met me on the way and told me I had unloaded
    all the gibbets and pressed the dead bodies. No eye
    hath seen such scarecrows. I’ll not march through
    Coventry with them, that’s flat: nay, and the
    villains march wide betwixt the legs, as if they had
    gyves on; for indeed I had the most of them out of
    prison. There’s but a shirt and a half in all my
    company; and the half shirt is two napkins tacked
    together and thrown over the shoulders like an
    herald’s coat without sleeves; and the shirt, to say
    the truth, stolen from my host at Saint Alban’s, or
    the red-nose innkeeper of Daventry. But that’s all
    one; they’ll find linen enough on every hedge.”

    –John Falstaff, in Henry IV (Part 1)
    These days its a lot more subtle. But every once in a while, you see the War Party slip up and admit to it: https://twitter.com/exjon/status/405017340128944128

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