A Confederate A Federal

William Wallace van Amber
Civil War Diaries & Letters


Invalid Cripples

Attention ailing cripples all
A song I'll sing to you
The wounded sick and lamed call
All dressed in jackets blue
Some have met the rebs in battle
Have marched both day and night
Some have lain sick in hospitals
Without a cent of pay

You're a sorry set of cripples
You hobble round and round
You poor decrepit invalids
One foot sets on the ground

You are to Cliffburn Barracks sent
Against your wish and will
To line the purse of officers
And help to fill the bill
Poor cripples put on duty
Who scarce can hobble round
Like pigs we're put in barracks
Too thick to stir around

You're formed in two battalions
The second and the first
Both a sorry set of cripples
The second much the worst
You are kept in close confinement
A guard placed all around
With orders strict and rigorous
And never go to town

If you are caught outside the lines
Without a proper pass
You are taken to the guardhouse
And must no questions ask.
For the most trivial offense
You must be punished right
And it's no use to make excuse
If you're a little tight.

A charge against you is preferred
Before the colonel laid
And next your sentence will be read
On colonels dress-parade
To sweeping you'll be forthwith sent
A quarrel around you stand
With a ball and chain upon your leg
As the colonel may command

We have a dashing sutter
I will not tell his name
Who tries to gouge the invalid
And is not at all ashamed
He sells his goods at highest price
And makes poor cripples pay
The officers are on his side
So we must nothing say.

He has two small apartments
To his new sutter stand
In one he keeps some sutter goods
With eatables on hand
The other is for officers
A private dark resort
Where they can go in quietly
To take their daily snort

He'd like to drive the women off
Who sell us milk and pies
For they will sell at lower price
Which hurts his selfish eyes
Sometimes they will not let them in
To sell what they have brought
So we must buy at their shebang
Or else go without

We have a sharp quartermaster
And quartermasters cub
For dealing out our rations
And weighing cripples grub
Peas, beans and potatoes
And a little tough old cow
With a little pork for just a change
And the belly of a sow

We have some gallant officers
As sound as they may be
Who should be with their regiments
Way down in Tennessee
We have some Potomac Shoulder Straps
The heroes of Bull Run
Who made that great and gallant charge
The charge on Washington

Now is this no cruel usage
For crippled men to bear
Having much privations suffered
Did much sorry dangers share
But the cruel war will be soon be over
And then we will be free
And when you quit the Invalid Corps
'Tis then your time will be.

So let us keep our courage up
In silence do our duty
Till the happy time will come
When we can claim our bounty
No more be used as creatures, brutes
And treated just the same
But treated as brave and honest men
With fair and honest name

Now ailing cripples one and all
My song I've sung to you
And if you think I've told the truth
I've nothing more to do
So let us keep our courage up
And thus be happy and gay
Until the glorious time will come
When we go home to stay.

Dated March 14th, 1865
At Capitol Barracks