“Brother Green”


The dying singer asks Brother Green to write a letter to his wife, "For the southern foe has laid me low." He prays for his family, tells his wife not to grieve, and remembers his brothers who are fellow soldiers for the Union. He prays (and dies)

Supplemental text

Brother Green
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

From Paul G. Brewster, Ballads and Songs of Indiana, pp. 253-254.
Collected in 1935 from O. F. Kirk of Oakland City, Indiana.

O Brother Green, do come to me,
  For I am shot and bleeding;
And I must die, no more to see
  My wife and my dear children.

A Southern foe has laid me low,
  On this cold ground to suffer;
Dear brother, stay and lay me away,
  And write my wife a letter.

(10 additional stanzas)


Various legends swirl about the origin of this song; they are not compelling. Although every text known to me is from the Civil War (usually Union; Randolph mentions a Confederate text), the name, style, and reference to the Virgin Mary (in some versions; others manage to cover it up) lead one to suspect Irish ancestry. - RBW

Cross references

  • cf. "Barbara Allen" (tune)


  • Carter Family, "The Dying Soldier" (Montgomery Ward M-4735, 1935)
  • Clarence Ganus, "The Dying Soldier" (Vocalion 5396, 1930; rec. 1929)
  • Buell Kazee, "The Dying Soldier" (Brunswick 214, 1928; on TimesAint01, KMM)


  1. Belden, p. 377, "Brother Green" (1 fragment)
  2. Randolph 211, "Brother Green" (2 texts, 1 tune)
  3. Eddy 111, "The Song of Brother Green" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Wyman-Brockway I, p. 18 "Brother Green, or the Dying Soldier" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Fuson, pp. 193-194, "Brother Green" (1 text)
  6. Cambiaire, pp. 13-14, "The Dying Soldier" (1 text)
  7. MHenry-Appalachians, pp. 212-213, "Brother Green" (1 text)
  8. JHCox 72, "Brother Green" (2 texts)
  9. BrownIII 393, "Brother Green" (1 very full text plus mention of 2 more)
  10. Brewster 47, "Brother Green" (1 text)
  11. Silber-CivWar, p. 15, "Brother Green" (1 text, 1 tune)
  12. ST R211 (Partial)
  13. Roud #3395
  14. BI, R211


Alternate titles: “Go Tell Little Mary Not to Weep”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1908 (Belden)
Keywords: Civilwar dying soldier
Found in: US(Ap,MW,SE,So)