Songs About the Civil War
The Civil War has always fascinated me, for many reasons. It seems it's stamp is still on me, the area I live, and my family. It's influence can still be heard in the music in the mountains where I live. Songs like Camp Chase, Soldier's Joy, Abe's Retreat and Washington's March, which are played to this day, are traditional and are a window in to the past. Also, the historic atrocity, The Shelton Laurel Massacre, took place close to where I live. However, the idea to write a lot of these songs about my ancestors started after I read David Stegall's (my cousin) book on my grandparents and their families. It included two Civil War stories, one about John Washington Hinson and the other about William Nathan Greene. The first story is about my great, great, great grandfather Goodwin Hinson who left his home in Stanley County, North Carolina around March 1862 bound for Salisbury, North Carolina to join the Confederate Army. He made the decision to go So Far From His Home for two reasons, he wanted the sign up money, and he, like many southerners of the day, thought the war would be short. He brought his son, John Washington Hinson with him. Goodwin was forty-eight years old when he joined the army, and he soon realized enlisted life wasn't what he had bargained for. He deserted twice, once July 24, 1862, and again on April 30, 1863 to plant and harvest his crops. He was caught in Concord, North Carolina in September of 1863 and was charged with desertion. He was brought back to his regiment near Wilmington, North Carolina where his son was also stationed. Captain James A. Howell handed down the order that Goodwin was to be shot for desertion. The fateful morning came, Goodwin's son John cooked him breakfast and then trimmed his beard. Before Goodwin was executed, he made his son promise not take revenge for fear that he too would end up facing a firing squad. Goodwin Hinson was shot for desertion January 27, 1864. Seeing his father shot was too much for John and in spite of his promise he vowed revenge. As fate would have it John didn't have to wait long for his chance. At the battle of Cold Harbor on June 3, 1864, Captain James A. Howell, the man responsible for having Goodwin shot for desertion, ordered his men to stand up and fire. Hinson stood up, turned around and shot Captain Howell off his horse, killing him. While many men from John's regiment went on to fight at The Battle Of The Petersburg Crater, John was captured by the northern army one of the few times they broke the Confederate lines during the entire battle and was never reprimanded for shooting Captain Howell. He was taken to Point Lookout Prison in Maryland. He stayed at Point Lookout Prison from June 11, 1864 until he was transferred to Elmira (prison), New York, on July 17, 1864. He was released from Elmira on June 21, 1865 after taking an Oath of Allegiance. He walked all the way back to his farm in North Carolina. The other story is about my grandmother's father, William Nathan Greene, who joined Company I, 48th regiment of North Virginia on February 12, 1864. He was told if he enlisted, one of his brother's could come home for a visit. His regiment was sent to Reams's Station, Virginia because the Union Army was Tearing Up The Tracks Again. In this battle on August 25, 1864 William Nathan Greene took a mini ball in his right hip. He lay wounded on the battlefield all night long. As he lay on his back, a storm came up and almost drowned him. If nothing else the Rain On A Flat Rock drowned out the war that was around him. Even though this war took place so many years ago, these things are still relevant today. The song, I'm Going Home To See Sally came from thinking about what kept these soldiers pushing onward. I believe it was longing for the day they would be reunited with their loved ones. Why Do You Take So Many asks the question why did so many young men have to die. My research took me from the mountains of North Carolina to the North Carolina coast, and then to the Civil War battlefields of Virginia. I spent time in Petersburg at the site of the Battle Of The Crater and went to the Cold Harbor battle site near Richmond. I also went to Ream's Station where my grandmother's father, William Nathan Greene was wounded and crippled for life. I tried to follow the journey my ancestors took and I have tried to put that journey in to the songs on this album. I hope you enjoy listening to them half as much as I enjoyed making them. Dan Williams.