“Virginia's Bloody Soil”


The singer calls on his audience to listen as he tells of the troubles of the Civil War, and describes how Unionists sprang to the colors after Fort Sumter. The rest of the song describes the battle of the Wilderness, and the death of the captain there

Supplemental text

Virginia's Bloody Soil
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

From Anne Warner, Traditional American Folk Songs from the Anne &
Frank Warner Collection, #24, pp, 93-94. From the singing of
"Yankee" John Galusha of New York State. Collected 1939.

Come all you loyal Unionists, wherever you may be,
I hope you'll pay attention and listen unto me,
For well you know the blood and woe, the misery, the toil
It took to down Secession on Virginia's bloody soil.

(8 additional stanzas)


It appears that this song has been collected only once, by the Warners. Their informant, "Yankee" John Galusha, said that this was a song local to his area, written by James McCoy about Captain Dennis Barnes, killed at the Battle of the Wilderness.

This seems likely enough. Although two battles were fought in the Rappahannock Wilderness (The Wilderness in 1864 and the earlier Battle of Chancellorsville on May 1-4, 1863), the song seems better suited to the 1864 battle, as it mentions the fires which consumed the Wilderness and also denies that the Federals retreated (after Chancellorsville the Union forces retreated; after the Wilderness, although it had suffered almost as bad a pounding as at Chancellorsville, Grant and Meade forced the federal army on to Spotsylvania).

This song is item dA35 in Laws's Appendix II. - RBW

Historical references

  • May 5-7, 1864 - Battle of the Wilderness


  1. Warner 24, "Virginia's Bloody Soil" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Silber-CivWar, pp. 80-81, "Virginia's Bloody Soil" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Lomax-FSNA 52, "Virginia's Bloody Soil" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. ST Wa024 (Partial)
  5. Roud #2802
  6. BI, Wa024


Author: James McCoy?
Earliest date: 1939 (Warner)
Keywords: Civilwar battle death
Found in: US(MA)