The Battle of Mill Springs
from Folk-Songs of the South*
There lies a wounded soldier on the battlefield,
His comrades gathered round him and by his side did kneel,
And then this wounded soldier did raise his head and said:
Who will care for mother when her wounded boy is dead?
I was my parents’ only son to comfort their old age;
My heart is like a captive bird a-fluttering in its cage;
I was my father’s only son, a mother’s only joy,
And they will weep in tears for me, their dying soldier boy.
“O tell my dear old father that in death I prayed for him,
That one day I might meet him in a world that is free from sin;
And tell my dear old mother not to mourn and cry,
For her son was a soldier and a soldier he did die.
“And tell my little sister not to weep for me;
I’ll sit no more by the fireside and nurse her on my knee,
And sing to her them good old songs she used to have me sing,
For her brother now lies wounded at the Battle of Mill Springs.
“O when I was a little boy I used to hear them tell
This is Union ground and free and we shall never sell
Then I came to be a servant, it was my country’s call,
Fighting for the Union, for the Union I did fall.
“O listen, comrades, listen! ’tis a girl I speak of now,
If she was only here this night to cheer my aching browl
But little does she know of the battIe as she sings,
That her true love now lies wounded at the Battle of Mill Springs.
Alas! and now I’m wounded, no more of her I’Il see,
But I hope one day to meet her in a world that is free from sin;
Tell her that in death I murmured her sweet name;
That she was just as dear to me as when from her I came.
“O listen, comrades, listen! I have something more to tell.”
They stopped to hear him speak again and he only said “Farewell,”
He kissed the Stars and Stripes and he laid them by his side,
Gave three cheers for the Union and bowed his head and died.
And then this Battle of Mill Springs it was over,
And thousands of wounded soldiers lie in a crimson grave,
And many a wounded soldier did raise his head and tried,
To gaze upon young Edward, who prayed before he died.
*by John Harrington Cox (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1925) Collected from Violet Nowland, VA circa 1916 under the auspices of the West Virginia Folklore Society