“The Veteran's Song”


The Union veteran lists all the fights he's fought, and all the wounds he's received, and notes that he consistently gave better than he got. He says "[I] will not sheathe my sword Until from Florida to Maine the Stars and Stripes shall proudly float"


This is unquestionably a composed song, and not about an actual individual. You don't take "a grapeshot in my knee" and walk again thereafter!

There are other signs of confusion in the song -- e.g. there is a reference, between the mention of Fair Oaks and that of the Peninsula, to service in "Fighting Joe's Brigade" and crossing the Rapidan at Culpeper with Averell. But "Fighting Joe" Hooker never commanded a brigade in combat in the Peninsular campaign; he was already in charge of a division. And while William Woods Averell did lead a rearguard action in the Peninsula, it was during the retreat to the James. The reference to Culpeper is probably an errant reference to the Chancellorsville campaign.

The reference to General Bragg also seems out of place in the story of an Eastern soldier. - RBW

Historical references

  • July 21, 1861 - First Battle of Bull Run
  • May 31-June 1, 1862 - Battle of Fair Oaks/Seven Pines
  • Sept. 17, 1862 - Battle of Antietam
  • Dec. 13, 1862 - Battle of Fredericksburg


  1. BrownIII 392, "The Veteran's Song" (1 text)
  2. Roud #11754
  3. BI, Br3392


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1952 (Brown)
Keywords: Civilwar soldier injury
Found in: US(SE)