(Words by John N. Wyatt, 1865; tune traditional)

Judy Domeny—guitar and lead vocal; Cathy Barton—vocal; Dave Para—guitar and vocal

In December 1862 Major General Thomas Hindman attempted to rid northwestern Arkansas of the Union army under General James Blunt, who at that time was camped at Cane Hill. When General Francis Herron, however, came with two divisions to reinforce Blunt, Hindman had to change plans. By leaving only a small part of his 11,000 men and setting many campfires in the woods that night, Hindman feigned an attack at Blunt and sent most of his army around to attack Herron. The next day, when Blunt heard artillery fire near Prairie Grove he knew he had been tricked and sent his men to join the fight in the afternoon. The battle consisted of charge and counter charge with neither side gaining advantage. The Confederates, however, were very low on ammunition and, after obtaining a truce to care for casualties, they wrapped their cannon wheels in blankets and escaped south during the night.

Many residents of Prairie Grove fought on the Confederate side, and there are a number of pathetic accounts of local women hunting their husbands and brothers on the battlefield the following day.

When we visited the battlefield in July 1992, park historian Don Mont- gomery gave us a copy of the words to this song by John N. Wyatt, a member of the 19th Iowa, written May 23, 1865. From the meter and structure of the verses, we guessed the song was based on “The Texas Rangers,” a traditional song commonly found in the U.S. The late Almeda Riddle of Heber Springs, Arkansas, sang a version of the latter song, so we chose to use her melody. A version of this song also appears in Vance Randolph's Ozark Folksongs that he says he got from the singing of Mrs. Judy Jane Whittaker, Anderson, Mo., in 1928.

We knew that Judy Domeny Bowen of Springfield, Missouri, a good singer and friend, would have a special sensitivity to the unusual empathy in this song, so we asked her to sing the lead for us.

Come all you sons of Ioway and listen to my song.
If you will pay attention, I'll not detain you long.
It was of a gallant charge that we made at Prairie Grove
Against the Southern forces, where every member strove.

Our officers being brave, they led us with good will.
And though we were outnumbered, we charged them up the hill.
And volley after volley we made our shots to tell,
Till our brave Lieutenant Colonel and Sergeant Major fell.

Through fields of blood we waded, then cannon loud did roar.
And many a brave commander lay bleeding in his gore.
And heaps of mangled soldiers lay o'er the field that day
That were the killed or wounded, of the 19th Ioway.

They had us so outnumbered that we thought they'd gain the day;
But then old Blunt's artillery over them began to play,
Which caused such dreadful horror, it put them all to flight,
And they withdrew their forces under cover of the night.

Next morning we were sorry to see the Rebels' wives
Hunting their dead husbands, with melancholy cries,
And sisters finding brothers, they wrung their hands and cried,
Saying, “Dear dead bloody brothers, for Southern rights you died.”

Now the battle is all over and our soldiers rest from toil.
So carefully we placed our dead beneath the Southern soil.
We placed them all in order, as formed on dress parade,
And placed a board at each man's head to mark where he was laid

© Big Canoe Records, 1993