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Origin: Old Abner's Shoes - What's the story?

06 May 09 - 11:47 AM (#2625486)
Subject: Abner's shoes - What's the story?
From: jacqui.c

The song title is either 'Abner's Shoes' or 'For I can whip the scoundrel, that stole old Abner's shoes'.

Does anybody have any idea about the origins of this song - was it based on a real incident?


06 May 09 - 01:12 PM (#2625580)
Subject: RE: Abner's shoes - What's the story?
From: Bill D

I have Tennesee Ernie Ford singing it, but I have no information about it's history. It 'sounds' like it could easily have been composed based on some real remark.


06 May 09 - 02:34 PM (#2625636)
Subject: RE: Abner's shoes - What's the story?
From: jacqui.c

Just so Bill - I had a trawl through the internet but couldn't find much about it at all.

We've just gone for Mr Ford's 'Songs of the Civil War' on Amazon. This is a CD collection of his rendition of the songs of both North and South. There's some good stuff on there.


06 May 09 - 02:34 PM (#2625637)
Subject: RE: Abner's shoes - What's the story?
From: SINSULL

I have a book at home that I think has some hsitory. Post when I get home.
M


06 May 09 - 02:55 PM (#2625655)
Subject: RE: Abner's shoes - What's the story?
From: Rapparee

Me too.


21 May 09 - 10:51 AM (#2637637)
Subject: Lyr Add: I CAN WHIP THE SCOUNDREL / ABNER'S SHOES
From: Jim Dixon

I pieced these lyrics together from several sources.


I CAN WHIP THE SCOUNDREL a.k.a. OLD ABNER'S SHOES

1. The Yankees came to Baldwin; They came up in the rear;
They thought they'd find old Abner, But old Abner was not there.

CHORUS: So lay ten dollars down, Or twenty if you choose,
For I can whip the scoundrel That stole old Abner's shoes.

2. The Yankees took me prisoner, They used me rough 'tis true.
They took from me my knapsack and stole my blankets too.

3. The Yankees took me prisoner, but if I could get parole,
I'd go right back and fight them, I will, upon my soul.

4. Jeff Davis was a gentleman; Abe Lincoln was a fool.
Jeff Davis rode a dapple gray; Abe Lincoln rode a mule.


[The last verse is probably a "floater".]

From: Florida in Poetry: A History of the Imagination by Jane Anderson Jones and Maurice O'Sullivan (Sarasota, Fla: Pineapple Press, 1995), page 46:
    "This Civil War ballad refers to a February 9, 1864 raid by the Fortieth Massachusetts Infantry on Confederate supplies at Baldwin, a railroad junction
    town twenty miles west of Jacksonville."
These books also contain versions of the song, but none of them can be fully viewed with Google Books:

A History of Music & Dance in Florida, 1565-1865 by Wiley L. Housewright (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1991)

Songs of the Civil War by Irwin Silber (New York: Dover, 1995)

Palmetto Country by Stetson Kennedy (New York: Duell, Sloan & Pearce, 1942), page 86


21 May 09 - 11:12 AM (#2637655)
Subject: RE: Origin: Old Abner's Shoes - What's the story?
From: Jim Dixon

From a report by The Joint Committee on the Conduct and Expenditures of the War, April 11, 1864, in Reports of Committees by the Senate of the United States, 1864:


Baldwin, Florida, February 9, 1864.

GENERAL: I have the honor to report that a portion of my command, under Brigadier General T. Seymour, convoyed by the gunboat Norwich, Captain Merriam, ascended the St. John's river on the 7th instant, and landed at Jacksonville on the afternoon of that day.

The advance, under Colonel Guy V. Henry, comprising the 40th Massachusetts infantry, the independent battalion Massachusetts cavalry, under Major Stevens, and Elder's horse battery, (B, 1st artillery,) pushed forward into the interior on the night of the 8th, passed by the enemy, drawn up in line of battle, at Camp Finnegan, seven miles from Jacksonville, surprised and captured a battery, three miles in the rear of the camp, about midnight, and reached this place about sunrise this morning.

At our approach the enemy abandoned and sunk the steamer St. Mary's and burned two hundred and seventy bales of cotton a few miles above Jacksonville. We have taken, without the loss of a man, about one hundred prisoners, eight pieces of excellent field artillery, in serviceable condition and well supplied with ammunition, and other valuable property to a large amount.

I shall have a train of cars running on the road from Jacksonville in three or four days.

The command will advance to-morrow morning.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Q. A. GILLMORE,
Major General, Commanding.

Major General H. W. Halleck,
General-in-Chief United States Army, Washington, D. C.


26 Jun 10 - 05:02 PM (#2935244)
Subject: RE: Origin: Old Abner's Shoes - What's the story?
From: GUEST,a visitor

In regard to Jim Dixon's reply about the last verse being a "floater":

Jeff Davis was a gentleman; Abe Lincoln was a fool.
Jeff Davis rode a dapple gray; Abe Lincoln rode a mule.


I recognize that verse from a song called "OLD ABE LIES SICK".

Old Abe lies sick, Old Abe lies sick, Old Abe lies sick in bed. He's a lying dog, he's a crying dog *[and I wish he was dead].

Jeff Davis rides a big white horse, Abe Lincoln rides a mule.
Jeff Davis is a gentleman, Abe Lincoln is fool.

*Another version adopted after Lincoln's assassination replaces "and I wish he was dead" with "with murder in his head".


04 Aug 12 - 08:01 PM (#3386230)
Subject: RE: Origin: Old Abner's Shoes - What's the story?
From: GUEST,Carolyn Wright

I'm wondering if the song is referring to the Abner McGehee locomotive?


16 Aug 17 - 11:32 AM (#3871957)
Subject: RE: Origin: Old Abner's Shoes - What's the story?
From: GUEST,george


16 Aug 17 - 09:31 PM (#3872067)
Subject: RE: Origin: Old Abner's Shoes - What's the story?
From: Lighter

Maybe this is too obvious to mention, but "Ol' Abner" is presumably the singer/versifier.


03 Jun 18 - 09:58 PM (#3929046)
Subject: RE: Origin: Old Abner's Shoes - What's the story?
From: GUEST,Reb

Abner is probably Abner McCormick, who commanded the 2nd Florida Cavalry (Confederate) at Olustee.


03 Jun 18 - 10:00 PM (#3929047)
Subject: RE: Origin: Old Abner's Shoes - What's the story?
From: GUEST,Reb

McCormick was also in the area of Baldwin when the raid occurred.


04 Jun 18 - 09:42 AM (#3929097)
Subject: RE: Origin: Old Abner's Shoes - What's the story?
From: Lighter

Maybe, but did somebody steal his shoes or anything?

I wonder if there were any other Abners around.


29 Nov 19 - 12:17 PM (#4021637)
Subject: RE: Origin: Old Abner's Shoes - What's the story?
From: GUEST,Some guy

Could also be Abner Monroe Perrin, who was a general who died at the battle of the wilderness, during a counter attack trying to retake the "mule shoe".

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abner_Monroe_Perrin 11/29/19 12:15pm est.


01 Dec 19 - 08:48 AM (#4021803)
Subject: RE: Origin: Old Abner's Shoes - What's the story?
From: GUEST,Starship

Here's the song on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-bGCxY6CUI


03 Dec 19 - 02:38 PM (#4022106)
Subject: RE: Origin: Old Abner's Shoes - What's the story?
From: Rapparee

"I CAN WHIP THE SCOUNDREL. A Civil War story, possibly more colorful than accurate, tells of the Southern girl who wrote a letter to her cousin, a prisoner of war at Camp Morton, Indianapolis:

I will be for Jeffdavise till the tenisee river freeses over, and then be for him and scratch on the ice--
             Jeffdavise rides a white horse,
             Lincoln rides a mule,
             Jeffdavise is a gentleman,
             And Lincoln is a fule.

"True or not, there is no doubt of the widespread usage of the four-line verse. It turns up in dozens of Southern folk songs, sometimes as an added stanza to some other ballad, as if a distant folk memory cannot erase the image and must constantly bring it out and fit it to a melody.

"The persistent little quatrain appears as one of the two stanzas found in Florida from which I have borrwed the title for this song. Folk singer Hermes Nye, in a ballad about General Patterson, sings about the white horse and the mule, and Mrs. Emma Dusenberry of Arkansas found it a favorite stanza to fit with other songs.

""I Can Whip The Scoundrel" is obviously a close first cousin (if not a more familiar relative) to a North Carolina prisoner of war song, "As I Went Down to Newbern":

         As I went down to Newbern
         I went down there on the tide;
         I just got there in time
         To be taken by old Burnside.

         Old Burnside tuck me prisoner;
         He used me rough, 'tis true;
         He stole the knapsack off my back,
         And he did my blanket, too.

         And we'll lay five dollars down,
         Count them one by one,
         And every time we fight them
         The Yankees they will run.

"The first verse is a reference to the Union's ill-fated Florida campaign of February, 1864. Baldwin represented the peak of the Yankee advance in the unsuccessful attempt to sever Florida from the Confederacy. Interestingly enough, the Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts Regiment (Colored), whose song "Give Us A Flag," appears in another section [of the cited work], below, was also involved in this engagement."

         --Silber, Irwin, comp. and ed. Songs of the Civil War, New York: Columbia University Press, 1960. pp. 179-180.

(So I'm nine years late doing this....)