“The Southern Wagon (Union)”


"Jeff Davis built a wagon and on it put his name, And Beauregard was driver of Secession's ugly (frame/fame)." The song details the slow but steady progress of the Union forces.


Cox lists this as a parody of the "favorite Confederate song" "The Southern Wagon." A Confederate song it may be, but hardly a favorite; I've found no evidence of traditional versions, and the single stanza Cox quotes seems to be the only traditional portion of the parody.

What is interesting is that Belden, too, has the *union* form, and a full version. - RBW

Historical references

  • July 21, 1862 - First Battle of Bull Run. Mentioned out of order in Belden's version, but Lincoln and General Winfield Scott appointed George B. McClellan commander of the Army of the Potomac the day after the battle ("they put in all new spokes")
  • Sep 4, 1861 - Occupation of Columbus, Kentucky by forces under Leonidas K. Polk ("Bishop Polk"). Kentucky had tried to declare neutrality; both sides prepared to occupy it once the neutrality was broken. Polk went in first, but the Union had more forces in the area, and gained the bulk of the state. And Polk's invasion helped push the legislature to declare for the Union
  • Jan 19, 1862 - Battle of Logan Cross Roads (also called Mill Springs, as in the song). A small battle by later standards, but the first major union victory of the war. Federal forces under George H. Thomas beat forces under Zollicoffer, securing much of Kentucky and opening a path into Tennessee
  • Feb 16, 1862 - Ulysses S. Grant captures Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River. This, combined with his capture of Fort Henry on the Tennessee (Feb. 6) blows a hole in the Confederate position in Kentucky and forces Confederate commander Albert Sidney Johnston to evacuate Bowling Green. This was the famous "Unconditional Surrender" incident: After the two senior officers at Donelson fled, the #3, Simon Bolivar Buckner, bit the bullet and accepted Grant's unconditional terms
  • Apr 25, 1862 - Union forces under Farragut capture New Orleans
  • Jun 6, 1862 - Naval battle of Memphis clears the path for Union occupation of that city

Cross references


  1. Belden, pp. 364-366, "The Southern Wagon" (1 text)
  2. JHCox 70, "Jeff Davis" (1 fragmentary text)
  3. cf. Gardner/Chickering, p. 482, "The Southern Wagon" (source notes only)
  4. Roud #3716
  5. BI, JHCox070


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1909 (Belden)
Keywords: Civilwar parody
Found in: US(Ap)