Bob Dyerguitar and vocal; Dave Paraguitar and vocal; Cathy Bartonhammered dulcimer, banjo and vocal; Lee Wormanborder pipes; Lloyd Hicksdrums
This original song by Bob Dyer is set to a popular old tune known at the time of the Civil War and called variously Napolean Crossing the Alps or Napolean Crossing the Rhine. The song tells the story of General Sterling Price's last attempt to take Missouri back from the occupying Union Army in the fall of 1864. As the song says, Price marched out of Arkansas with eight ragged brigades totalling about 12,000 men, led by some of his most competent generals, including Jo Shelby, James S. Fagan, John S. Marmaduke and the Swamp Fox, Jeff Thompson. He hoped many more Missouri boys would join him as he marched through the State, but this hoped for support (part of which he imagined to be members of a shadowy Confederate underground sometimes known as the Knights of the Golden Circle) never really materialized.
Some observors believe that Price's leadership and tactical skills had deteriorated by this point in time, and it certainly seems that he made several grievous tactical errors during the raid, including the disastrous mistake of attacking Fort Davidson near Pilot Knob, Mo., soon after entering the state. This small garrison defended by a token force under the command of the hated Union General Thomas Ewing, was surrounded by a deep ditch that proved the downfall of several waves of attacking Confederates. Price lost more than a thousand men in this battle and his losses forced him to rethink trying to take St. Louis.
He turned west and made a feint at Jefferson City, but the defenses there were strong and Price got word that he was being pursued by General Alfred Pleasonton so he continued west through Boonville, Glasgow, Marshall and Lexington, crossing the Little Blue River and confronting a formidable army under Union General Samuel Curtis at Westport near Kansas City.
This battle, in which Price was outnumbered by at least two to one, resulted in a resounding defeat and Price was forced to retreat south along the Kansas and Missouri border into Texas. Bushwhacker leaders George Todd and Bill Anderson were killed just prior to the battle, and in the retreat that followed General Marmaduke was captured. The defeat marked the end of any serious Confederate resistance in the West.
The song is followed by Dave and Cathy's own instrumental version of the popular Civil War song, sung primarily by Southerners during the war, The Yellow Rose of Texas. This song, like Dixie, was a product of the Northern minstrel shows and was apparently written and published in 1853 by an author identified only as J.K. As with a number of other popular Civil War songs, this one too was widely parodied.
He came marching out of Arkansas with his ragged eight brigades.
With Shelby, Fagan, Marmaduke and the Swamp Fox, Thompson, too
He thought he'd take St. Louis from the Union boys in blue.
On his good grey horse, Bucephalus, Price led Missouri's sons
Through Fredericktown to Pilot Knob and grim Fort Davidson.
But there that devil, Ewing, made the rebel soldiers pay,
And Price lost 1500 men before he rode away.
Battered but not beaten Price was forced to change his plans,
The days were turning colder and the trees were all aflame