Council of War
It Takes a Little Horse-Sense
To view the next piece in the series, go to The End of Innocence.
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January 5, 2013
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Small Framed Open Edition
Much as we might do today,  Civil War era Americans were fond of "borrowing" familiar
tunes and adding new, topical words to create parody songs in response to current events.
In 1863, well-known southern editor John R. Thompson drafted just such a song, entitled,
"Richmond is a Hard Road to Travel". Based on the minstrel tune "Jordan is a Hard Road
to Travel" (arranged in 1853 by Ohioan Dan Emmett),  Johnson’s parody version was
meant to poke fun at the Union army’s seemingly endless stream of commanding officers
and many failures in Virginia in the first two years of the war.
Would you like to hear my song? I’m afraid it’s rather long
Of the famous "On to Richmond" double trouble,
Of the half-a-dozen trips and half-a-dozen slips
And the very latest bursting of the bubble.
Regarding the First Battle of Manassas, Johnson had this to say:
First McDowell, bold and gay, set forth the shortest way,
By Manassas in the pleasant summer weather,
But unfortunately ran on a Stonewall, foolish man,
And had a "rocky journey" altogether;
And he found it rather hard to ride o’er Beauregard,
And Johnston proved a deuce of a bother,
And ‘twas clear beyond a doubt that he didn’t like the route,
And a second time would have to try another.
The song’s final verse begins thus:
We are very much perplexed to know who is the next
To command the new Richmond expedition. . .
Council of War was inspired by three cavalry horses that I'd photographed at a
reenactment.  The photo always made me smile, as it appeared to me that the horses were
having some sort of opinionated conversation. When combined with the military strategy
meeting in the camp scene behind the horses and the lyrics of the song, I hope that
Council of War might challenge the viewer to decide who in the military had more
"horse-sense" in the early phase of the war.  --A. V. Lindenberger
While the song has many verses, a few excerpts will demonstrate its flavor:
Original Artwork
Framed Dimensions:
28 1/4 x 34 1/2
Image:  17 1/2 x 23 1/2