“Old Honest Abe”


"Old honest Abe, you are a babe In military glory. An iron fool, a party tool, A traitor, and a Tory." The singer challenges Lincoln to "whup us if you're able." Scott and Wool cannot win his battles; Scott can never defeat his mother


Belden says this song was published in _Songs of the South_ in 1863. Internal evidence implies that it was written rather earlier -- my guess would be around September or October of 1861, after the Confederates had won Wilson's Creek (August 10) and first Bull Run (July 21), making possible the claim of beating the Federals in every battle, but before Winfield Scott gave up the Commander in Chief's post in November of that year.

The "Scott" of the song was of course Winfield Scott (1786-1866), the original commander in chief of the Federal armies, who was a Virginian (hence the gibe about his inability to defeat his mother). Although Scott was soon pushed aside, we might note that his "anaconda plan" was the basic scheme by which the Union won the war.

"Wool" is John E. Wool (1789-1869), like Scott a veteran of the War of 1812, and considered the #2 Federal officer starting the war. He would serve until he retired in 1863, but he didn't really do much in the War; at no point did he command an important army. - RBW

Cross references


  1. Belden, pp. 356-357, "Old Honest Abe" (1 text)
  2. Roud #7767
  3. BI, Beld356


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1863 (Songs of the South)
Keywords: Civilwar political
Found in: US(So)