“Ellie Rhee (Ella Rhee, Ella Ree)”


The singer recalls Ella Rhee, beautiful and kind, with whom he used to live (before the war). (He wonders why he ran away; he is free but is no longer with Ella.) He wishes he were by her (grave). He laments, "Carry me back to Tennessee...."

Supplemental text

Ellie Rhee (Ella Rhee, Ella Ree)
  Complete text(s)

          *** A ***

Ella Ree

From [H. M. Wharton], War Songs and Poems of the Southern Confederacy,
pp. 213-214.

And Ella Ree so kind and true,
  In the little church yard lies,
Her grave is bright with drops of dew,
  But brighter were her eyes.

    Then carry me back to Tennessee,
      There let me live and die,
    Among the fields of yellow corn,
      In the land where Ella lies.

The summer moon may rise and set
  And night birds thrill their lay,
And the possum and the coon will softly step
  Around the grave of Ella Ree.   Chorus --

          *** B ***

Ella Rhee

From Vance Randolph, Ozark Folksongs, volume 4, #860, p. 387.
A single chorus, from the singing of Janet Shreve of Farmington,
Arkansas. Collected 1941.

Carry me back to Tennessee,
Back where I long to be,
Back to the fields of yellow corn,
To my darling Ella Rhee.


Randolph's informant, who knew only the chorus, says this is about an Indian girl. The other texts I've seen, Brown's, Dean's, and that in Wharton's _War Songs and Poems of the Confederacy_, allow but do not require this. The version in Brown looks like more propaganda: "Don't run away; see what you'll lose?"

Septimus Winter's 1865 song "Ellie Rhee" ("Carry Me Back to Tennessee") is said by Spaeth (_A History of Popular Music in America_, p. 128) to be based on Ella Ree, by C. E. Steuart and James W. Porter, published 1853. - RBW


  1. BrownIII 412, "Ella Rhee" (1 text)
  2. Randolph 860, "Ella Rhee" (1 fragment)
  3. Dean, p. 96, "Ella Ree" (1 text)
  4. ST R860 (Full)
  5. Roud #7428
  6. BI, R860


Author: Septimus Winner ?
Earliest date: 1904 (War Songs and Poems of the Confederacy; the Winner song was copyrighted 1865)
Found in: US(MW,SE,So)