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Rare Confederate Broadside Verse on Texas Ranger Ben McCulloch

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130.     [CIVIL WAR]. [McCULLOCH, BENJAMIN]. [BRADY, John (attributed)]. Song. [wood-engraved illustration of man in riding breeches and cutaway, holding hat] Ben M’Cullough. Air—Someting [sic] new comes every day.” Oh have you heard of the brave old fellow, He goes by the name of Ben McCullough…. [Baltimore, 1861]. Broadside, printed text (song lyrics) within ornamental border, black ink on white wove paper. Border to border: 23 x 10.7 cm; overall size: 24.4 x 12.9 cm. Minor wrinkling, blank verso with paper remains where formerly mounted, overall very fine and fresh. Copies located: New-York Historical Society; Library of Congress; Wake Forest University.

     First printing. Moss, Confederate Broadside Poems: An Annotated Descriptive Bibliography 29 (Brady attributed as author on p. 62). Rudolph, Confederate Broadside Verse 42. Wolf, American Song Sheets 1850-1870 #C24. See also: Thomas W. Cutrer, Ben McCulloch and the Frontier Military Tradition (Chapel Hill & London: University of North Carolina Press, 1992, frontispiece illustration).

     Rare broadside in praise of Ben McCulloch (1811-1862), Texas Ranger, Indian fighter, U.S. marshal, and brigadier general in the Army of the Confederate States of America. McCulloch ran out of luck and sustained a mortal wound commanding the Confederate right wing at the battle of Pea Ridge, or Elkhorn Tavern, on March 7, 1862. A popular frontier military leader, McCulloch followed David Crockett to Texas in 1835, but failed to meet him at the Alamo after contracting measles. McCulloch went on to play a prominent role in Texas history, commanding one of the Twin Sisters in the Battle of San Jacinto. He joined the Texas Rangers under legendary John Coffee Hays. Luckily, he abandoned the Mier Expedition only hours before the group’s capture. McCulloch shone in civil affairs as well, working in the then-dangerous profession of surveying and serving as political representative for both the Republic and State. During the Mexican-American War McCulloch gained national prominence when he raised the group of Texas Rangers that became Company A of Col. Jack Hays’s First Regiment, Texas Mounted Volunteers. He was immortalized by war correspondent George Wilkins Kendall, editor of the New Orleans Picayune [see Item 399 herein] and in Samuel Reid’s best-selling 1847 history of the campaign, The Scouting Expeditions of McCulloch’s Texas Rangers.

Leaving Austin to join the California Gold Rush on September 9, 1849, he did not strike it rich but was elected sheriff of Sacramento. Upon Texas secession, McCulloch was commissioned a colonel and following a bloodless confrontation at the Alamo on February 16, 1861, General Twiggs relinquished the federal arsenal and all other United States property in San Antonio to him. Subsequently Jefferson Davis appointed McCulloch a brigadier general, the second-ranking brigadier general in the Confederate Army and the first general-grade officer to be commissioned from the civilian community. McCulloch built the Army of the West and gained the support of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, and other inhabitants of what is now eastern Oklahoma. See Handbook of Texas Online: Benjamin McCulloch.

     The lyrics are as follows:

Oh have you heard of the brave old fellow,
He goes by the name of Ben McCullough,
He fills his foes with consternation,
He’s the pride of all the Southern nation,

Oh dear, oh ‘tis truth what I tell,
‘Mid fire and powder he loves to dwell.

He’s the man above all the rest, sirs,
That scatters all the Lincoln nests, sirs,
That makes them fly at the smell of powder,
That uses them up like old fish chowder.

Oh dear, &c.

The Kentucky boys he’s got to back him,
The Iowa boys will fail to crack him,
The Illinois crew he’ll beat all hollow,
Be quick Indiana, if him you want to follow.

Oh dear, &c,

He comes upon his foes like red hot brick bats,
He takes off their scalps like so many wild cats,
Anthony Wayne is no circumstance to him,
Though many of his foes do strive to undo him.

Oh dear, &c.

Huzza for McCullough the brave rifle ranger,
The friend of truth—to vice a stranger,
He’s a hard old knot of the hickory tree, sir,
He’ll work night and day to set the South free sir.

Oh dear, &c.

The Library of Congress copy is illustrated at their website (as is the Wake Forest copy at theirs), where the genre of song sheets is discussed:

For most of the nineteenth century, before the advent of phonograph and radio technologies, Americans learned the latest songs from printed song sheets. Not to be confused with sheet music, song sheets are single printed sheets, usually six by eight inches, with lyrics but no music. These were new songs being sung in music halls or new lyrics to familiar songs, like “Yankee Doodle” or “The Last Rose of Summer.” Some of America’s most beloved tunes were printed as song sheets, including “The Star Spangled Banner” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Song sheets are an early example of a mass medium and today they offer a unique perspective on the political, social, and economic life of the time, especially during the Civil War. Some were dramatic, some were humorous; all of them had America joining together in song.




Auction 22 Abstracts

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