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40 FOLK-SONGS OF THE CIVIL WAR.
this there were brilliant exceptions, like Mr. Gib-bons's We are coming, Father Abraham, Mr. Henry Howard Brownell's naval poems, and Read's Sheridan's Ride, but as a whole it must be confessed that the polite poetry of the civil war is rather dreary reading.
There was an immense amount of song-writing as well as of song-singing during the war, and under the stress of excitement and the gathering together of immense bodies of young and exuberant spirits the enthusiasm inevitably found a vent through the lungs. The illiterate poets were as busy as those of higher education; and those who did not seek their public through the pages of the fashionable magazine, or even the poet's corner of the country newspaper, but through the badly printed sheet of the penny street ballad, or through the mouth of the negro minstrel, contributed almost as largely to the poetry of the war as their brothers. Dime song-books containing a curious admixture of the common and the polite, the appropriate and the incongruous, were innumerable, and the poetry which is below literary criticism was equal in bulk to that which is within its scope. Actual soldiers and sailors also sometimes wrote of their battles and experiences, or expressed their feelings in more or less finished verse, and these found their way into print either in the ballad sheet or the newspaper. Most