Southern Unionism in music

Posted on April 12, 2012 by

2


This clip was uploaded to YouTube earlier this year and I just found it… and wow, what a great piece!

The description states:

It’s not commonly known that there were many southerners who fought for the union during the Civil War. Most of them were from the mountains. This song is about one such southern unionist. It comes from Frank Proffitt of Reese, N.C. [yes, the same Frank Proffitt who is credited as the "original source" of the more contemporary version of the "Tom Dooley" ballad... Tom Dooley/Thomas C. Dula being a former Confederate soldier], whose grandfather chose to “join the boys in blue”. John W. Proffitt* crossed the mountains into East Tennessee to enlist in the 13th Tenn. Cavalry, Co. M.

Enjoy… I know I did…

I’ve seen the lyrics vary, but I think the following might be closest to the original…

I’m goin’ across the mountains, oh fare ye well
Goin’ ‘cross the mountains, you can hear my banjo tell
Got my rations on my back, my powder it is dry
Goin’ across the mountains, oh Chrissy don’t you cry

Goin’ across the mountain, to join the boys in blue
When this fightin’s over, I’ll come back to you

Goin’ across the mountains if I have to crawl
To give old Jeff’s men a little o’ my rifle ball
‘Speck you’ll miss me when I’m gone, but I’m goin’ through
When this fightin’s over, I’ll come back to you

Way before it’s good daylight, if nothin’ happens to me
I’ll be way down yonder, in old Tennessee
Goin’ across the mountain, oh fare ye well
Goin’ ‘cross the mountain, you can hear my banjo tell
Goin’ across the mountain, oh fare ye well
Goin’ ‘cross the mountain, Chrissy fare you well
Goin’ across the mountain, to join the boys in blue
When this fightin’s over, I’ll come back to you

*A resident of Taylorsville, Tennessee, 25 year-old John W. Proffitt (also seen as Prophit) enlisted in Co. M, 13th Tennessee Cavalry (USA), February 2, 1864, in Knoxville, Tennessee. He was appointed sergeant on the day he enlisted, but was reduced to ranks on July 3, 1865. Proffitt (not to be confused with “John H. Proffitt” who also served in the same company and regiment) applied for and received a pension for his service. Following his death, on October 23, 1913, his widow also applied for and received a pension based on her husband’s service.

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