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Sport 20: Autumn 1998

K.O. Arvidson — Some Legends of the Civil War

page 81

K.O. Arvidson

Some Legends of the Civil War

The old-time cotton fields of Carter's farm
near Franklin Tennessee
lie gauzed now in the blue-grey of self-heal.
Two hundred and eighty acres
nine thousand fell for, mostly wearing blue-grey,
fell for head over heels.

In the memorial museum
hang photos of the young men dressed for war,
brave and fresh-shaven and fleet,
farmers from hereabouts;
and later shots of the mounds of their legs and feet,
rough-edged where scalpels ripped and shrapnel tore,
spotted as though with blowflies, or photographic grain.

From the farm museum store,
a good cassette called Southern Soldier Boy:
Sixteen Authentic Songs of the Civil War:
with banjo, fiddle, hambone, tambourine,
harmonica, dulcimer, mandolin,
and washboard, mouth bow, jew's harp
and accordian, and guitar,
and buckdancing,
all authentic to that war.

page 82

In the printed text
verse 3 of George F. Root's keen
‘Battle Cry of Freedom’ goes

…we'll show the dastard minions
what Southern plunk can do,
shouting the battle cry of freedom…

intending Southern pluck perhaps, or
Southern plonk, a boyish bravery or
a bottle of dry retch, or
maybe Southern plunk indeed,
tongues tangled as they were in the gins of war.

Another song, plunk plunk:

The Johnson boys they went a-courtin’,
The Coon Creek girls was pretty and sweet;
But they couldn't make no conversation,
Didn't know where to put their feet.

plunk plunk


Hop up pretty girls, don't be afraid!
Hop up pretty girls, don't be afraid!


page 83

Wellington NZ.
From Premier Weld to Governor Grey, April 1865:

There is some reason to think it not unlikely
that a ship has been destroyed in Cook's Straits
by Confederate warship Shenandoah—
heavy firing is said to have been heard,
and portions of wreck have come ashore,
and a body near Porirua,
with the lower parts of both legs wanting.’