Information on three songs

I spent the last month working on this for my Humanities Scholars Program (HSP). Below is a summary of information about each song. I am putting it here because the amount of effort it took to collect this information was not pretty nor pleasant. And these are good songs which deserve better than a few footnotes in the backs of history books. These are basically my prettified notes. When I began my project I wrote up all of the things I didn’t know as questions and then structured my research around answering them.

The songs are:

At the end is my works cited. All information listed here could be found there. I would love to put the text of each of the songs here, but they are all under copyright, and for the same reason I won’t put up the poems which I love from Good Poems For Hard Times I can’t put up either “In The Hills of Shiloh” or “Two Brothers” :-(. However I did link to each of them above, but assume people who could come to a site with this many citations are doing research, which might be protected under fair use, so I feel better about that.

NOTE: for humor value, take a quick look at the longer titles of books in the bibliography. In general, the older the book, the longer the title 😀

In The Hills of Shiloh:

Where/when/what as Shiloh?

  • Shiloh, Tennessee
  • Battle of Shiloh (Pittsburgh landing name of train station for the Memphis and Charleston Railroad)
  • Date: April 6-7, 1862
  • Location: Tennessee
  • Confederate Commander: Albert Sidney Johnston/ P. G. T. Beauregard
  • Union Commander: Ulysses S. Grant
  • Confederate Forces Engaged: 40,335
  • Union Forces Engaged: 62,682
  • Winner: Union
  • Casualties: 23,741 (13,047 Union and 10,694 Confederate)

Why would Shel Silverstein have chosen that town to set his poem in?

  • General Grant marched across TN, trying to meet Sherman’s army
  • General Johnston fighting for the south
  • It had the largest number of new recruits in US history
  • ¾ were under 25
  • “The country is undulating table-land, the bluffs rising to the height of one hundred and fifty feet above the alluvial. Three principal streams and numerous tributaries cut the ground occupied by the army, while many deep ravines intersect, rendering it the worst possible battle-ground.” Colonel Wills De Hass

Was there an Amanda Blaine?

3,000 Confederate Widows in Virginia alone–no definitive original person.

Why did Shel Silverstein write this poem?

For Bobby Bare’s “Lullabys, Legends, and Lies” one of the first concept albums in the country genre:

“Taking up a challenge, he wrote an album, “Lullabys, Legends And Lies”, for the country singer, Bobby Bare in four days in 1973.” Obituary of Shel Silverstein.

[OT: fun Shel Silverstein fact found in his Obituary: as “record producer Chet Atkins remarked’ Ol’ Shel has probably got the worst voice of anyone alive, but he’s also got the run of the ‘Playboy’ mansion and I’m not knocking anybody with a deal like that.'”]

PS: if you look at the structure of the song as you would a poem, or are, say, trying to memorize it to perform in class, you will find odd poetic decisions (there is not tricolon crescens in the adjectives to describe Amanda, nor are her sufferings alternated in terms of how we are perceiving her. My theory is Shel Silverstein wrote the poem to fast to include these, because otherwise he is a fairly exact writer.

Why did Jim Friedman set it?

Part of the Bobby Bare, Shel Silverstein trio

Good Ole Rebel

Were the “Yankee” symbols listed particularly hated by Confederate soldiers?

Yes, hard to answer this question though (my fault since I wrote the questions :-D)

Where the sufferings innumerate in the song typical of a Confederate soldier?

Yes because of lack of money, resources, food and infrastructure–see letters of Theophilius and Harriet Perry, especially when she mentions how the only good which she is getting anymore were run through the Northern barricade.

How much was a “chance of Yankees”?

“A considerable quantity” (An American Glossary)

Did the Confederates kill 300,000 Yankees?

  • Union Battle deaths: 110,070
  • Union Disease, etc.: 250,152
  • Union Total 360,222

Major Innes Randolph (author), CSA was a educated poet

NOTE: two of the cited resources (Author: Daniel, Lizzie Gary and Davidson, Nora Fontaine) provide slightly different but period accurate versions of this song. Google Scholar and Google Book searches were my primary mechanism for finding all information on these subjects.

How wild is it that I can cite a book from 1893 in a Freshman research project?

Two Brothers

Irving Gordon (author), composed 1951

Why were the colors Blue and Grey chosen?

West Point was Grey—split 50/50 and the Blue had the money for uniforms and the Grey did not (Dickinson).

What did those colors mean to the soldiers—to their families?

Marks of connection with cause

How did modern weapons effect the perceptions of the Civil War?

The Cannons in the Civil War could batter at up to 1 mile away. A cannon ball had nothing to do with the specific intentions of its firer

How did the railroad change methods of communication?

Made massive movement more possible—kept people far from home, brought them back. Method for victory, object of destruction.

Was this poem based on real people?

No and yes. See citations. There were several true cases that I could find where brother fought brother, but there was not nearly as much documentation as would have been expected for the Fratricidal war.

Works Cited

• Bare, Bobby. LP Discography. 1 Nov. 2007 <>. Shel wrote In The Hills of Shiloh for Bobby Bare.

• Bianculli, Anthony J. Trains and Technology: The American Railroad in the Nineteenth Century. Univ of Delaware Pr, 2003. Google Scholar. Google Scholar. 27 Nov. 2007 <,M1>.

• Brittonsneck2. “GOOD OLE REBEL.” YouTube. 26 May 2007. YouTube. 31 Oct. 2007 <>.

• “Brother against brother.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia. 27 Nov. 2007 <>.

• Cashin, Joan E. The War Was You and Me: Civilians in the American Civil War. Princeton University Press, 2002. Google Scholar Search. 17 Nov. 2007 <,M1>.

• Daniel, Lizzie Gary. Confederate Scrap Book. Copied from a Scrap-book kept by a young girl during and immediately after the war, with additions from war copies of the “Southerly Literary Messenger” and “Illustrated News” loaqed by friends, and other selections as accredited. Richmond VA: Hill Printing Company, 1893. Google. 31 Oct. 2007 <,M1>. Page 239 are lyrics for Good Ole Rebel

• Davidson, Nora Fontaine. Cullings from the Confederacy, A COLLECTION OF SOUTHERN POEMS, ORIGINAL AND OTHERS, POPULAR DURING THE WAR BETWEEN THE STATES, AND INCIDENTS AND FACTS WORTH RECALLING. 1862-1866. INCLUDING THE DOGGEREL OF THE CAMP, AS WELL, AS TENDER TRIBUTE TO THE DEAD. “from grave to gay, from reverend to severe.” Petersburgh: The Rufus H. Darby Printing Co., 1903. Google. 31 Oct. 2007 <,M1>. Lyrics are on page 45

• De Hass, Colonel Wills. “The Battle of Shiloh .” Civil War Home. Civil War Home. 17 Nov. 2007 <>. There is serious doubt as to the veracity of this account. Therefore it will only be used as an independent descriptions, not as a historical account.

• Dickinson, Ben Wade. Personal interview. 13 Nov. 2007.

• “DRUMBEATS AND HEARTBEATS .” Pennsylvania Ethnic Heritage Studies Center, University Center for International Studies, University of Pittsburgh. 31 Oct. 2007 <>. This is a lesson plan for grace level 7-8th

• Endora1359. “Confederate Battle Flag.” YouTube. 26 Sept. 2007. YouTube. 31 Oct. 2007 <>.

• – – -. “I’m A Good Old Rebel.” YouTube. 1 Oct. 2007. YouTube. 31 Oct. 2007 <>.

• Folk Music Index. “Folk Music Index: Twa to Tz.” ibiblio. Folk Music Index: Twa to Tz. 12 Nov. 2007 <>.

• Frank, Joseph Allan, and George A. Reaves. Seeing the Elephant: RAW RECRUITS AT THE BATTLE OF SHILOH. Urbana, IL: Univeristy of Illinois Press. Google Scholar Search. Google Scholar Search. 17 Nov. 2007 <,M1>.

• “George B. Crittenden.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia. 27 Nov. 2007 <>.

• Gordon, Irving. “TWO BROTHERS.” International Lyrics Playground. Apr. 2005. International Lyrics Playground. 1 Nov. 2007 <>.

• – – -. “Two Brothers (Civil War).” Traditional & Folk Songs with lyrics & midi music. traditionalmusic. 31 Oct. 2007 <>.

• Hamilton, William. “Brother Against Brother at Secessionville.” A World of Difference. A World of Difference. 27 Nov. 2007 <>.

• Hundley, Jessica. Grievous Angel: An Intimate Biography of Gram Parsons. NY: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 2005. Google. 31 Oct. 2007 <,M1>. Mention of song being sung (folk category) page 47.

• “Irving Gordon.” Internet Movie Database (IMDb). IMDb. 12 Nov. 2007 <>.

• Leigh, Spencer. “OBITUARY: Shel Silverstein.” The Independent May 1999. 1 Nov. 2007 <>. In The Hills of Shiloh from recorded “Inside Folk Music”, in 1962.

• Manucy, Albert C. Artillery Through the Ages: A Short Illustrated History of Cannon Emphasizing Types Used in American. Interior Dept., National Park Service, Division of Publications, 1949. US Government Bookstore. US Government. 27 Nov. 2007 <,M1>.

• Pegg, Carole. “Folk music.” Grove Music Online. 2007. Oxford UP. 31 Oct. 2007 <>.

• Perry, Harriet, and Theophilus Perry. Widows by the Thousand: the civil war letters of Theophilius and Harriet Perry 1862-1864 edited by M. Jane Johanesson. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas. Google Schorlar. Google Schorlar. 19 Nov. 2007 <,M1>

• PiXXie. MySpace. MySpace. 1 Nov. 2007 <>.

• RebelSportsman. “I’m A Good Ol’ Rebel.” YouTube. 5 Oct. 2007. YouTube. 31 Oct. 2007 <>.

• “Shiloh.” Civil War Home. Civl War Home. 17 Nov. 2007 <>.

• “Shiloh National Military Park.” Wikipedia. 17 Nov. 2007 <>.

• Silber, Irwin, and Jerry Silverman. Songs of the Civil War. 1 Nov. 2007 <,M1>.

• – – -. Songs of the Civil War. Dover publications, 1995. 19 Nov. 2007 <,M1>. Good Ole Rebel on page 356.

• Silverstein, Shel, and Jim Friedman. “In the Hills of Shiloh.” Digital Tradition Mirror. 1 Nov. 2007 <;ttHILSHILO.html>.

• “The Ten Costliest Battles.” Civil War Home. Civl War Home. 17 Nov. 2007 <>.

• Thornton, Richard Hopwood. An American Glossary. Philidelphia: JB Lippincott, 1912. Google Scholar. Google Scholar. 27 Nov. 2007 <,M1>.

• Welsch, Joe, and Jim Boyd. The American Railroad: Working for the Nation. MBI, 2006. Google Scholar. Google Scholar. 27 Nov. 2007 <>.

• “Look up artist Gordon, Irving.” Freedman Catalogue. University of Pennsylvania. 12 Nov. 2007 <>.

Inspirational Quote:

“It is by the fortune of God that, in this country, we have three benefits: freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and the wisdom never to use either.” Mark Twain

1 Comment

  1. Shel Silverstein”s “In the Hills of Shilo” was first recorded by The New Christy Minstrels on their 1963 album “Tell Tall Tales! Legends and Nonsense”. I still have my copy of the vinyl. The album has been released as a twofer with “Land of Giants” on CD.

Get in touch

%d bloggers like this: