53rd Massachusetts Songs


On their Way to Dixie

This song and two others were sent to me by John W. Hager,
whose great grandfather was Thomas Augustus Hills, Co. C.

By J. WARD CHILDS, of the Washington Guards,

53d Massachusetts Vol. Militia.


Come, listen soldiers, to my song,
A story I will tell,
About our Massachusetts boys,
Who've been a raising h---
We left our old New England homes,
To fight the rebel foe,
But the wheels of government, it seems,
Are moving rather slow.

Ha! For old New England,
And for the old Bay State,
Whose gallant sons are on their way
Our flag to reinstate

We came to York, of great renown,
To join Banks expedition,
But they are gone, and we are left,
In most a sad condition.
We marched one Sunday from the boat
Up to the City Park,
Where, in the rain and mud and cold,
We stood till after dark.

And then in filthy barracks they
Would have us spend the night,
But ah! the Massachusetts boys,
Couldn't see it in that light.
So to hotels and halls we went
For quarters, in a trice,
Where we could rest our weary bones,
Secure from filth and lice.

*The Astor and St. Nicholas
Do very well for show,
But seventy-four on Chatham street,
Is the place, my friends, to go.
The very choicest bill of fare,
The very best of cooks,
And most obliging host and clerks,
You'll always find at Crooks'.

Thus, in this famous city, we
Remained three days and nights,
And lived like pigs in clover, and
Went in and saw the sights.
We went to Wallack's, Laura Keene's,
To Barnum's, famed afar,
And Niblos' noted Gardens, where
Ed Forrest reigns the star.

At last the orders came to move,
When with our gallant force,
With knapsacks straped upon our backs,
We marched to Union Course.
And here, like cattle, we, at night,
Were quartered in a shed,
Until our shelter tents we pitched,
And on rat-soup were fed.

Enraged with such abuse, and cold,
And spoiling for a fight,
We pitched into a sutlers tent,
And put the wretch to flight.
Down came his shanty with a crash,
Above his luckless head,
And leaving all his traps behind,
The frightened sutler fled.

Then to the cook-house we did go,
With many a cheer and shout,
And carrying everything before,
We cleaned the rascals out.
The forty-seventh, forty-ninth,
And fiftieth were there,
Who, with the famous fifty-third,
Did of the plunder share.

We carried off their pork and beans,
Their butter, bread and cheese,
Potatoes, sugar, ham and beef,
Their coffee and their teas.
And when the shades of night came on,
We shouted three times three,
For Massachusetts` gallant sons, And their great victory.

*That night, a fiendish landlord shot
A gallant soldier dead,
And justly fearing judgment dire,
In consternation fled.
His comrades of the forty-ninth,
The intelligence spread round,
And rushing to the spot, they burned
His building to the ground.

*The morning came, the Sabbath morn',
The ground was white with snow,
When bidding Union Course good bye,
To Jamaica we did go.
And there, God bless their generous souls,
We met with friends, indeed,
Who ministered unto our wants,
In this, our time of need.

*They took us to their friendly homes,
To spend the cheerless night,
And friends, the comforts here we shared,
Were welcome to our sight.
We thought of our New England homes,
Those homes, to us so dear,
And of the loved ones left behind,
And dropped a silent tear.

*And when the morning came, with hearts
Too full of thanks to tell,
We bade our noble hearted friends,
An affectionate farewell,
And sang, as we went marching on,
"Jamaica give us yet,
Long live thy sons and daughters fair,
We, thee, well ne'er forget."

*Then straightway to the city, we
Did go, and reached at last,
So fondly cherished in our hearts,
By memories of the past,
And to the Franklin barracks went,
But oh! what words can tell
The gloomy aspect of the place,
The most unearthly smell.

*New York's some pumpkins, we'll admit,
Perhaps it can't be beat,
In Massachusetts, for its size,
For that we'll not compete.
But boys, should Boston e'er be known,
Herself thus to disgrace,
The devil take the inhabitants,
And sink the cursed place.

Now let our friends our praises sing,
Our foes, let them beware,
For Massachusetts noble sons,
Have hearts to do and dare.
Let government contractors quake,
And cooks and sutlers flee,
Whenever Massachusetts boys,
Upon their track they see.

And in conclusion let me add,
Although I would not boast,
Let Master Jeff & Co. beware,
Of Bank`s mighty host.
For when our Massachusetts boys
Are once upon the route,
They'll carry every thing by storm,
And clean the devils out.

*Verses found only in the second edition.

Harrison's Steam Presses for Cheap Printing, 80 & 82 Duane street.

J. Ward Childs of Fitchburg, was a Private in Company B, 53rd Regt. Massachusetts Volunteers. The song tells of the hardships endured after arriving in New York on the 29th of November 1862. They were finally moved to the Franklin street barracks just off Broadway on December 8th.

Compiled by Walter G. Blenderman;

Prepared 3/22/1998, updated 5/8/2000

Return to 53rd Home Page.