Sunday, February 19, 2012

Civil War Humor 1861-1865

Parody was a favorite form of humor among the troops of both sides. The soldiers of the Army of Northern Virginia, often referred to as “Lee’s Army”, sometimes parodied the title of Victor Hugo’s popular novel Les Miserables and referred to themselves as, “Lee’s Miserables .”

Popular songs were a source for parody. The song Just Before The Battle, Mother (I was thinking most of you), was mangled into:

Just before the battle, Mother,
I was drinking mountain dew,
When I saw the Rebels coming
To the rear I quickly flew.

Not even prayers were spared. The classic children's 18th century prayer:

“Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I shall die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

was revised by Union soldiers on Burnside’s celebrated “Mud March”:

“Now I lay me down to sleep
In the mud that’s many fathoms deep;
If I’m not here when you awake,
Just hunt me up with an oyster rake.”

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