Last Letter Home

(McDade/Brown, ASCAP)
Tintagel Music, ASCAP, 1977

Harry Tuft: guitar, lead vocal; Ed Trickett: guitar, vocal; Dave Para: guitar, vocal

I learned "Richmond" from Roger Abrahams, who learned it from Marybird McAllister, a remarkable traditional singer from Brown's Cove, VA. The song is actually based on an older song, "The Plains of Alma," from the Crimean War. Mrs. McAllister's father was a Confederate soldier in the Civil War and she had many songs from that period in her repertoire, plus a number of the older ballads and songs. "Last Letter Home" I learned from a recording of the Amazing Rhythm Aces back in the late 1970s. I was intrigued by the idea of juxtaposing the two songs, one written over a hundred years before the other.

(Harry Tuft)

'Twas on the 4th and 9th of May,
In spite of all that we could say,
In spite of all that we could say
We stood in front of Richmond.

'Twas all night lying on the ground;
Not a tent or shelter could be found,
And it rained so hard we damn near drowned
That day in front of Richmond.

So, early next morning the sun did rise
And east and north across the skies,
And Jackson rides the lines and cries,
"It'll be hard work at Richmond."

God bless the children in their homes;
God bless the women all alone.
God bless the men who never failed
That day in front of Richmond.

I have heard the cannons thundering all night,
And I cannot help but wonder, why's the Rebel Cause so right?
And the morphine seems to do no good at all.
I would run away, if I would not fall.

Well, I joined the Southern cavalry for fun.
Must have rode a thousand horses; always had a way with a gun.
Now I'm among the horseless riders lying still
Swallowed up by the Cause on the Widow's Hill.

And I dreamed of a rose in a Spanish garden,
And I kissed you and placed it in your hair.
And, if I'm ever on my feet again, I will,
I will run all the way just to meet you there.

(repeat chorus)

©1992 Folk-Legacy Records, Inc. Sharon, Connecticut 06069
  Used by permission.