With the American Civil War just over, the celebration of Independence Day in 1865 was especially festive, especially in children’s magazines like Robert Merry’s Museum. “The Boys’ ‘Fourth-of-July’” likely was written for its illustrations. Its author published a number of poems in the Museum and may have subscribed to it for a time. Its declaration of “an apple bough for Jefferson D.” is a reminder of the Union soldiers’ vow to “hang Jeff Davis from a sour apple tree.” Davis also is the “leader in dress-goods led away”: attempting to escape capture, Davis mistakenly donned his wife’s cloak—which became, in Union parodies, a full set of crinolines, bonnet, and parasol. The second poem—unsigned—was especially appropriate, given that many Union soldiers—including Museum subscriber James Conrad—were mustered out on July 4, 1865.

Two poems for July 4, 1865 (from Robert Merry’s Museum, July 1865; p. 2)

THE BOYS’ “FOURTH-OF-JULY,” by “Kruna” (Julia Pratt Ballard)

There, can’t you see the line, my boys,

And toe the mark precisely?

Dick, just step back a foot or two—

You three have hit it nicely.

I want you all to make me proud—

Show your very neatest drilling,

Or else your captain’s honor, boys,

Will not be worth a shilling.

Now! forward, march! quick even step,

Eye raised a trifle higher,

And throw into your souls, my boys,

A little extra fire!

Forget that Grant has conquered Lee;

Forget that Richmond’s taken;

Forget that ditch—the very last,

Jeff Davis has forsaken.

The glorious Fourth is just ahead,

We’ll save for that our thunder,

And then declare Secession dead,

And buried ten feet under!

four white boys play drums

By the beating of the drums,

Something of an army comes!

Victory lighting every eye,

See them proudly marching by!

With the beat, beat,

And the tramping feet,

“Yankee Doodle” chimes complete!

And now a halt! and “three times three”—

Nine cheers for Grant—three groans for Lee;

Rebels shaken,

Richmond taken,

And an apple-bough for Jefferson D.!

Hurrah, hurrah, boys! be alive

To the glorious Fourth of ’sixty-five;

’Twas a wonderful day in ’seventy-six,

But the British were never in such a fix

As the grand Confederate host to-day

With their leader in dress-goods led away!

Hurrah, hurrah, boys! be alive

To the glorious Fourth of ’sixty five!

They are coming from the wars,

They are bringing home their scars;

They are bringing back the old flag, too, in glory;

They have battled long and well,

And let after-ages tell

How they won the proudest name in song or story;

We are eager with our thanks,

We are pressing on their ranks,

We are grasping hands that held the States unbroken,

Yet we sadly think of those

Who are sleeping with their foes,

And our trembling tongues give welcome sadly spoken.

But the long delay is past,

They have brought us peace at last,

And how proudly through our veins the blood is bounding,

As we bless our honored dead,

While the steady martial tread

Of returning veterans in our ears is sounding.

[p. 3]

four white boys play soldier
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