“The Call of Quantrell”


The singer calls his hearers to rise; Penick's Union forces are coming, "But the Quantrell they seek shall be far, far away." The singer promises that, when Penick flags, they will turn on him and regain their territory


As is so often the case with outlaw ballads, this paints much too pretty a picture. For a brief background on Quantrill (the name used in Confederate records), see the notes to "Charlie Quantrell."

To tell this song from other Quantrell pieces, consider this first half-stanza and chorus:

Up! Up! comrades, up! The moon's in the west,

And we must be gone ere the dawning of the morn;

The hounds of old Penick will find out our nest,

But the Quantrell they seek shall be far, far away....

Cho: Rouse, my brave boys, up, up and away,

Press hard on the foe ere the dawning of day;

Look well to your steeds so gallant and [i.e. in?] chase,

That they may never give o'er till they win in the race."

Based on both form and content, I think this was inspired by "Bold Reynard the Fox (Tallyho! Hark! Away!)" or one of its relatives.

Belden says that W. R. Penick, who pursued Quantrill, was eventually a Missouri brigadier. Based on Boatner's _Civil War Dictionary_, however, he did not attain that rank in Union service. Either he was a brigadier only by brevet (though even that is probably excluded by his absence from Phisterer's _Statistical Record of the Armies of the United States_), or he was only a state brigadier, with a lower national rank. Or he may have been a colonel who had command of a brigade without appropriate rank. - RBW

Historical references

  • Aug 21, 1863 - Quantrill's Raiders destroy Lawrence, Kansas, killing about 150 men.
  • May 10, 1865 - Quantrill is mortally wounded on his way to Washington (where he hoped to stir up trouble by assassination). He dies 20 days later.

Cross references


  1. Belden, pp.353-354, "The Call of Quantrell" (1 text)
  2. Roud #7771
  3. BI, Beld353


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1896 (Immortelles)
Keywords: outlaw Civilwar
Found in: US(So)