“Cumberland Gap”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1924 (recording, Uncle "Am" Stuart, followed in the same year by recordings by Land Norris, Gid Tanner & Riley Puckett)
Keywords: exploration settler Civilwar dancing dancetune
Found in: US(Ap,SE,So)

Description

Stories of the settlement of Cumberland Gap. Texts may have a variety of verses, about exploration or the Civil War. The chorus is diagnostic: "Lay down boys and take a little nap; (Fourteen miles to the) Cumberland Gap."

Supplemental text

Cumberland Gap
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

From Harvey H. Fuson, Ballads of the Kentucky Highlands, pp. 176-178.
No source indicated.

The first white man in Cumberland Gap,
The first white man in Cumberland Gap,
The first white man in Cumberland Gap,
Was Doctor Walker, an English chap,
Lay down boys and take a little nap,
They're raising hell in Cumberland Gap.

Daniel Boone on the Pinnacle Rock,
Daniel Boone on the Pinnacle Rock,
Daniel Boone on the Pinnacle Rock,
He killed Indians with an old flint lock,
Lay down boys and take a little nap,
They're raising hell in Cumberland Gap.

(8 additional stanzas)

Notes

This melody is played as a dance tune throughout the southeast. - PJS

Fuson's unusually long text has also been heavily localized: "September morn in Sixty-two... Morgan's 'Yankee' all withdrew." "They burned the hay, the meal, and meat... And left the rebels nothing to eat." "Braxton Bragg with his rebel band... He run George Morgan to the bluegrass land."

Union general George W. Morgan (1820-1893) had occupied the Gap on June 18, 1862 with a division after the oversized brigade of James E. Rains withdrew. (Rains, incidentally, did his own burning of stores as he pulled out.)

In September 1862, though, two Confederate armies under Braxton Bragg and Edmund Kirby Smith were moving into Kentucky (the Perryville campaign). Kirby Smith's force threatened Morgan's communications, and on September 17, he conducted an orderly evacuation. There was no battle, but it would be another year before the Union recaptured the Gap. - RBW

Historical references

Cross references

Recordings

References

  1. Randolph 498, "Cumberland Gap" (1fragment)
  2. BrownIII 329, "Cumberland Gap" (1 text)
  3. Fuson, pp. 176-178, "Cumberland Gap" (1 text)
  4. Silber-CivWar, pp. 62-63, "Cumberland Gap" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Lomax-ABFS, pp. 274-276, "Cumberland Gap" (1 text, 1 tune, composite)
  6. Lomax-FSNA 80, "Cumberland Gap" (1 text, 1 tune)
  7. Arnett, p. 31, "Cumberland Gap" (1 text, 1 tune)
  8. Botkin-SoFolklr, p. 714, "Cumberland Gap" (1 text, 1 tune)
  9. PSeeger-AFB, p. 67, "Cumberland Gap" (1 text, 1 tune)
  10. Silber-FSWB, p. 49, "Cumberland Gap" (1 text)
  11. ST R498 (Partial)
  12. Roud #3413
  13. BI, R498