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Lyr ADD: Battle of Pea Ridge/St. Clair's Defeat


Related threads:
Lyr ADD: St Clair's Defeat (Bob Gibson Version) (7)
Lyr Req: St. Clair's Defeat (16)
Lyr Req: Price's Last Raid (3)
Lyr Req: St. Claire was our commander (9)

Barry Finn 11 Oct 98 - 10:56 PM
rich r 12 Oct 98 - 03:07 PM
Dale Rose 12 Oct 98 - 03:32 PM
Barry Finn 12 Oct 98 - 04:59 PM
Dale Rose 12 Oct 98 - 07:27 PM
Barry Finn 12 Oct 98 - 07:51 PM
Bruce O 12 Oct 98 - 08:15 PM
rich r 12 Oct 98 - 09:54 PM
Barry Finn 12 Oct 98 - 11:28 PM
Dale Rose 13 Oct 98 - 09:55 AM
Art Thieme 13 Oct 98 - 12:00 PM
Barry Finn 09 Jan 01 - 05:32 PM
Dale Rose 10 Jan 01 - 02:47 AM
Irish sergeant 10 Jan 01 - 09:36 AM
M.Ted 10 Jan 01 - 03:02 PM
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Subject: Lyr Wanted: Battle of Pea Ridge
From: Barry Finn
Date: 11 Oct 98 - 10:56 PM

I heard this years back by Gerald Trimble (sp?). For some reason it came to light & I'm trying to track down the rest. Thanks for any help. Here's the little I remember.

It was on July the 7th in the year of 62
We had a sore engagement with Abe Linclon's crew
Van (Dorm?) was our commander as you can (will?) plainly see
We lost ten thousand of our men in the IndianTerritory


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Subject: RE: Lyr Wanted:
From: rich r
Date: 12 Oct 98 - 03:07 PM


This doesn't help a whole lot with your song, but there are some striking similarities to the verse you cited and a song called "St. Claire's Defeat" recorded in the 60's by the Modern Folk Quartet. It starts out with a date (My copy is in my office so I cannot be very precise). In the second line "Abe Lincolns crew" is replaced by "near to Fort Jefferson (could be Washington). The next line "St. Claire was our commander....". 4th line "And we lost 500 comrades in that dreadful territory". The Indian wars described in the song, I think are ones that pre-dated the Civil War.

rich r

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Subject: RE: Lyr Wanted:
From: Dale Rose
Date: 12 Oct 98 - 03:32 PM

Twas November the fourth, in the year of 91 . . . I had already made that connection, too, rich, but had not written anything about it yet. My remembrance is of the version by Bob Gibson and Hamilton Camp, or maybe just by Hamilton Camp, I'm not sure anymore. I'll bet Art can set us straight in an instant when he sees this thread.

As far as the Pea Ridge connection is concerned, there are several knowledgeable people in the area that I can check with as soon as I get the chance.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Wanted:
From: Barry Finn
Date: 12 Oct 98 - 04:59 PM

Thanks Rich r & Dale it's definitely a civil war song, see the Battle Of Elkhorn Tavern" in the DT, same Pea Ridge , same war but I believe a view from a different side. Dale if there's any backround on the Pea Ridge battle from your friends In be greatful. Thanks to you both. Barry

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Subject: RE: Lyr Wanted:
From: Dale Rose
Date: 12 Oct 98 - 07:27 PM

Somewhere along the line, Barry, I have given up trying to make this a coherent listing. What you want is all in here, though.

Official National Park Service Site for the Pea Ridge Battlefield

Site with several valuable links, including official reports from some of the participants, General Franz Sigel, General Albert Pike, and others.

An interesting side track: Pike is also noted for his alternate version of Dixie, which you will find at:

Check the music of the 97th Regimental String Band. I seem to have mislaid their address, but I am sure a good search engine like Profusion will turn them up. highly recommended

But here I am, saving the best for last, since you will find the lyrics that you are looking for! This site is that of noted Missouri musicians, Cathy Barton and Dave Para, excellent for both the music and the history of the war.

From their main page, you can go to their discography page, which includes two albums made up exclusively of Civil War songs of the Western Border, Johnny Whistletrigger and Rebel in the Woods. Information about their recording of The Battle of Pea Ridge is at :

I know you will be interested in their history page as well, which has a ton of links that you can follow. I have both albums, and cannot recommend them too highly. They are in that select pile of CDs which are always right there next to the CD player. I have seen them in concert many times over the course of the last 20 years or so, and never tire of hearing them. Write to Cathy and Dave at

OK, this is all checked and I think it has all the html that I wanted to put in. Sorry I did not make them hot links. (Confession: I have been by Pea Ridge several times, but have never had time to stop. If I go to hear friends make music up by Bentonville later this month, I will rectify the omission!)

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From: Barry Finn
Date: 12 Oct 98 - 07:51 PM

WOW Dale, Thanks for the find. Love it. Thought I'd bring the whole page over, such a great song & great backround. I've had the tune for years but never the words, I'll be funnelling this one down my gullet straight away. Thanks again. Barry


Cathy Barton, Dave Para and Bob Dyer—vocals; Dave Wilson—fiddle

Early in 1862 General Curtis and his Union Army of the Southwest chased the Confederates under General Sterling Price out of Springfield, Mo., and into northwestern Arkansas. There Price's men joined with the Confederate regiments under the former Texas Ranger General Ben McCulloch, who disagreed with Price over the merits of fighting for Missouri. Both these armies were under the overall command of General Van Dorn, who promptly led his 13,000 men on a forced march back north from the Boston Mountains in the cold and ice hoping to defeat Curtis and march on to St. Louis.

The armies clashed on March 7 at Pea Ridge, Arkansas, a few miles from the Missouri line and not far from Oklahoma Indian territory. According to Van Dorn's bold scheme, Price's men split from McCulloch's men to envelop the 10,000 Union troops. The prompt killing of both McCulloch and General McIntosh precipitated a bloody rout of the confused and weary Confederates at Leetown, while two miles to the east Price's men gained the ground at Elkhorn Tavern late in the day. Van Dorn, however, neglected to resupply his troops with ammunition and they were forced to retreat. Casualties numbered 1,300 for the Union and approximately 2,000 for the Confederates.

The song comes from Ozark song collector Max Hunter who got it in 1958 from Mrs. Allie Long Parker of Pleasant Valley, Arkansas, who probably learned it from her father. It is an Ozark variant of a song called "St. Clair's Defeat," about an Indian attack on Fort Jefferson in the Ohio country in 1791, and is said to have hung on the walls of many Ohio homes in the early 1800's. Some of the phrasing from the original song is strangely both relevant and inaccurate when applied to the Civil War battle. Pea Ridge was not far from the Indian Territory, and the disorganized fighting by Cherokee, Creek and Choctaw Indians under Confederate Gen. Albert Pike is a legendary aspect of the battle. But the number of Confederate casualties at Pea Ridge was nowhere near ten thousand; “Pap” Price was wounded, but not fatally; and it was Van Dorn who supposedly ordered the retreat of March 8 with tears in his eyes, not Price. ------------------------------------------------------------------------


It was on March the Seventh in the year of sixty-two.
We had a sore engagement with Abe Lincoln's crew.
Van Dorn was our commander as you remember be.
We lost ten thousand of our men near the Indian Territory.

Pap Price come a-riding up the line, his horse was in a pace.
And as he gave the word "retreat" the tears rolled down his face.
Ten thousand deaths I'd rather die than they should gain the field.
From that he got a fatal shot which caused him to yield.

At Springfield and Carthage many a hero fell.
At Lexington and Drywood, as near the truth can tell.
But such an utter carnage as ever I did see
Happened at old Pea Ridge near the Indian Territory.

I know you brave Missouri boys were never yet afraid.
Let's try and form in order, retreat the best we can.
The word "retreat" was passed around, it caused the heathen cry.
Helter-skelter through the woods, like lost sheep we did fly.

© Big Canoe Records, 1993

Barton/Para Main Page Discography Page Civil War Page

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Subject: RE: Lyr Wanted:
From: Bruce O
Date: 12 Oct 98 - 08:15 PM

G. M. Laws, 'Native American Balladry' lists two variants of another song on the battle. (A) "The Battle of Elkhorn Tavern" , and (B) "The Pea Ridge Battle" (Laws A12).

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Subject: RE: Lyr Wanted:
From: rich r
Date: 12 Oct 98 - 09:54 PM

Dale, Barry,

I, too have the Rebel In The Woods album and it is great. I want to get the first one also. I think I saw it recently at the Folk Legacy site. Dave & Cathy say somewhere in the CD notes that some of the songs they included were actually poems published in papers etc. that they have collected. They were not necessarily known as songs. They took the meter and used traditional tunes that seemed to fit the mood of the words. It is a masterful job. I would certainly love to see them live.

rich r

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Subject: RE: Lyr Wanted:
From: Barry Finn
Date: 12 Oct 98 - 11:28 PM

Rich r, do you know when the tune would've been adapted for this song &/or is the tune the same as for "St. Claire's Defeat". What I had from Gerald Trimble would be at least going back 15 or so years. Thanks alll for you contrubitions. Barry

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Subject: RE: Lyr Wanted:
From: Dale Rose
Date: 13 Oct 98 - 09:55 AM

Two items:

First, I incorrectly attributed the Rebel In The Woods and Johnny Whistletrigger CDs to Cathy Barton and Dave Para, when it should have been Cathy Barton, Dave Para, and Bob Dyer. If Bob reads this, I apologize. His contributions to the albums are as significant as theirs. I just wasn't thinking.

And, comparing the tunes of St. Clair's Defeat and The Battle of Pea Ridge: They are different, at least the version by Barton/Para/Dyer is not the same as that of Camp/Gibson.

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Subject: Lyr Add: ST. CLAIR'S DEFEAT
From: Art Thieme
Date: 13 Oct 98 - 12:00 PM


This is partly from Bob Gibson and partly from Anne Grimes Folkways LP---OHIO STATE BALLADS FH 5217


It is a topical ballad circulated through broadside prints. Said to've been hung on walls of many OHIO homes in the early 1800s. Is from one of the bloodiest battles of the Indian wars which continued in the Ohio country during and after the revolution. Nov. 4, 1791---details in the song are pretty accurate. Some of the participants names have been slightly rearranged.
The troops st Marietta, Ohio were sent by Pres.Washington down the Ohio River to Cincinnatti where they were joined at Fort Hamilton by the Virginia militia. Led by Gov. Arthur St. Clair--they were accompanied by wives and children. Going north, they built a chain of forts, including Fort Jefferson, south of Greenville. In camp at the headwaters of the Wabash River (which they took to be the St. Mary's) they were ambushed by a large force of Indians led by Chief Little Turtle. Nearly 1000 were killed. The place was named Fort Recovery by the troops of General (Mad Anthony) Wayne who fought off the Indians in order to bury the defeat's victims. Wayne's eventual victory at Fallen Timbers, which put an end to most of the large scale uprisings, was achieved after the lessons learned from "St. Clair's Defeat"---the actual name of the song in the first publication of the song (1834). __The Recollections Of John M. Brackenridge"__. He told of hearing a blind ballad maker, Dennis Loughey, at a race track in Pittsburgh around 1800. Loughey was hawking copies of broadsides by chanting it out loud. St. Clair, himself, survived the ambush.

Now, here's the song!

'Twas November the 4th in the year of '91,
We had a sore engement near to Fort Jefferson,
St.Clair was our commander ehich may remembered be,
For we left 900 comrades in that dreadful territory.

At Bunker's Hill and old Quebeck where many a hero fell,
Likewise at Long Island, it is I the truth can tell,
But such a dreadful carnage may I never see again,
As happened near Fort Jefferson all on that river plain.

Our army was attacked just as the day did dawn,
And was soon overpowered and driven from the lawn,
They kille Major Oldham, Levin and Briggs likewise,
While horrid yells of savages resounded to the skies.

For 3 more hours we fought 'em, until to them we had to yield,
When 900 bloody warriors lay stretched upon the field,
Says Colonel Gibson to his men, "My boys, be not dismayed,
I am sure that true Virginians were never yet afraid".

"10,000 deaths I'd rather die than they should take the field"...
With that he got a fatal shot which forced him for to yield,
Says Major Clark, "My heroes, we can no longer stand,
We'll strive to form in order and retreat the best we can."

The word retreat being passed around there rose s a dismal cry,
Then helter skelter through the woods like wolves and sheep they fly,
This well apointed army which had fought so brave before,
Had braved, defied all danger-- was like a cloud passed o'er.

Alas, the dying and the wounded how dreadful was the thought,
To the tomahawk and scalping knife in misery were brought,
Some had an arm and some a thigh broke on the field that day,
Who writhed in torment at the stake to close that bitter day.

To mention our brave officers is what I wish to do,
No sons of Mars e're fought so brave or with more courage true,
To Captain Bradford I belonged, to his artillery,
He fell that day amongst the slain--a valiant man was he.

Oh, sweet Dicky Butler, Wayne'll nae see ye more,
A Miami did scalp you, and the ground ran with gore.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Wanted:
From: Barry Finn
Date: 09 Jan 01 - 05:32 PM


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Subject: RE: Lyr Wanted:
From: Dale Rose
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 02:47 AM

Finally figured out why you refreshed this thread, Barry!

Coincidentally, I listened to both albums earlier this evening, along with another of Dave and Cathy's from about 20 years ago. They never get old.

There is more information on the internet about the song now than there was before. Check out the Max Hunter site, for a version by Max himself, with links to two others by Allie Long Parker of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, his source for the song. "I had collected this song from Mrs. Allie Long Parker and sang it at the Tenth Annual Arkansas Folklore Society meeting. This was my first public performance."

It doesn't say where she learned it, but the Barton/Para notes given by Barry above indicate that she likely learned it from her father. The Hunter site does give this reference, Randolph: II-209 The Battle of Pea Ridge.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Wanted:
From: Irish sergeant
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 09:36 AM

I have the album by Gerald Trimble. I thought he had wrote the song but it has been a while since I've read the album liner. It's a great tune by the way. Kindest reguards, Neil

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Subject: RE: Lyr Wanted:
From: M.Ted
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 03:02 PM

From the Max Hunter Collection, which is a wonderful and extensive collection of field recordings, check this version, As sung by Mrs. Allie Long Parker in Eureka Springs, Arkansas on January 14, 1958

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