“The Fall of Charleston” by Shovels & Rope
Early on the morning of February 18, 1865 — 151 years ago today — Union troops onshore and in the blockading fleet off Charleston noticed that the Confederates at Fort Sumter had not hoisted a flag above the battered remnants of the post. The monitor U.S.S. Canonicus moved slowly closer, and fired two rounds into the fort from her 15-inch Dahlgren smoothbores. The Union bluejackets waited for the inevitable response. Instead, there was only the sound of the wind and water.
Here’s a track from the album Divided and United by Shovels & Rope, the Charleston husband and wife duo of Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst. You can read more about them and their recording of “The Fall of Charleston” here, or hop over to NPR for a mini-concert. A contemporary broadside of the lyrics is available here.
Oh have you heard the glorious news, is the cry from every mouth,
Charleston is taken, and the rebels put to rout;
And Beauregard the chivalrous, he ran to save his bacon—
When he saw General Sherman’s “Yanks,” and “Charleston is taken!” With a whack, rowdy-dow, A hunkey boy is General Sherman, Whack, rowdy-dow, Invincible is he! This South Carolina chivalry, they once did loudly boast,
That the footsteps of a Union man, should ne’er pollute their coast.
They’d fight the Yankees two to one, who only fought for booty, But when the “udsills” came along it was “Legs, do your duty!” With a whack, rowdy-dow, Babylon is fallen, Whack, rowdy-dow, The end is drawing near! And from the “Sacred City,” this valiant warlike throng;
Skedaddled in confusion, although thirty thousand strong—
Without a shot, without a blow, or least sign of resistance,
And leaving their poor friends behind, with the “Yankees” for assistance! With a whack, rowdy-dow, How are you, Southern chivalry? Whack, rowdy-dow, Your race is nearly run! And again o’er Sumter’s battered walls, the Stars and Stripes do fly,
While the chivalry of Sixty-one in the “Last ditch” lie;—
With Sherman, Grant and Porter too, to lead our men to glory,
We’ll squash poor Jeff’s confederacy, and then get “Hunkydory!” With a whack, rowdy-dow, How are you, neutral Johnny Bull? Whack, rowdy-dow, We’ll settle next with you!