The Girls Would Cry Shame and They’d Volunteer

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Something for the weekend.  The immortal Tennessee Ernie Ford singing The Why and the Wherefore, a popular marching song for Union troops during the Civil War:

Where, where, where, and where,

And where are you bound, young man?”

“I’m off to the war with the good men and true,

And hadn’t you better come along too?

I speak my mind quite freely — now reely.” 

“Why, why, why, and why,

And why to the war, young man?”

“Did a man ever fight for a holier cause,

Than freedom and flag and equal laws?

Just speak your mind quite freely — now reely.” 

“Which, which, which, and which,

And which is the flag of the free?”

“O, Washington’s flag, with the Stripes and the Stars,

Will you give such a name to the thing with the bars?

I speak my mind quite freely — now reely.”

“Who, who, who, and who,

 And who goes with you to the war?”

 “Ten thousand brave lads, and if they should stay here,

 The girls would cry shame, and they’d volunteer!

 They speak their mind quite freely — now reely.”


“When, when, when, and when,

 And when do you mean to come back?”

 “When Rebellion is crushed and the Union restored,

 And freedom is safe — yes, then, please the Lord!

 I speak my mind quite freely — now reely.”

“What, what, what, and what,

 And what will you gain by that?”

 “O, I’ve gained enough whatever the cost,

 If freedom, the hope of the world, isn’t lost,

 I speak my mind quite freely — now reely.”

The song was written in 1862 and appeared in A Soldier’s Song Book.  The only author given was Anonymous, that writer of so many songs over the centuries.  The tune was taken from The Frankfort Apprentice’s Song.  Here is Bobby Horton’s rendition of the song.

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