“The Blue and the Gray”


"A mother's gift to her country's cause is a story yet untold, She had three sons...." All three boys died at war. Two died for the Confederacy in the Civil War; a third died for the Union in Santiago. The singer hopes mother and sons will meet in heaven.

Supplemental text

Blue and the Gray, The
  Complete text(s)

          *** A ***

From Louise Pound, American Ballads and Songs, #56, p. 129.
From a text in the manuscript book of L. C. Wimberly.

A mother's gift to her country is a story yet untold,
She had three sons, three only sons, each worth his weight in gold.
She gave them up for the sake of war, while her heart was filled with pain.
As each went away she was heard to day, "He will never return again."

  One lies down near Appomattox, many miles away,
  Another sleeps at Chickamauga, and they both wore suits of gray,
  'Mid strains of "Down in Dixie" the third was laid away,
  In a trench in Santiago, the blue and the gray.

She's alone tonight, while the stars shine bright, with a heart full of despair,
On the last great day I can hear her say, "My three boys will be there.
Perhaps they'll watch at the heavenly gates, on guard beside their guns,
Then the mother, true to the gray and blue, may enter with her sons."


There were soldiers who fought in both the Civil War and Spanish-American War; a leading example is Joseph Wheeler, a Confederate cavalry general who was also a Major General at San Juan Hill and the siege of Santiago. M. Calbraith Butler was another Confederate cavalry general who also served in the later war.And then there was Johnny Clem, who joined the Confederate forces at age nine, and retired from the U. S. army as a general in 1916.

Still, the odds of one mother having a child die at Chickamauga (1863), Appomatox (i.e. probably Saylor's Creek in 1865, though very few men actually died there), and Santiago (1898) must be considered slight; the final son would surely have been a fairly senior officer, unlikely to be hurt -- and what are the odds that the mother would still be alive in 1898 anyway?

The feeling, though, is probably appropriate for this era of horrid sentimentality.

There were, of course, many poems of this name in the period shortly after the Civil War. Few had any more literary merit than this piece. - RBW


  1. LPound-ABS, 56, p. 129, "The Blue and the Gray" (1 text)
  2. Spaeth-ReadWeep, p. 202, "The Blue and the Gray" (1 tune, partial text)
  3. ST LPnd129 (Full)
  4. Roud #4984
  5. BI, LPnd129


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1922
Keywords: war death Civilwar mother
Found in: US