We Are Coming, Father Abraam, 300,000 More

Words by James Sloan Gibbons; music by Stephen Foster, 1862

From whose point of view is this song being sung? What was happening in the War when this song was written in 1862? Why was recruiting important to the war effort?

What makes this song a good recruiting song? This was a number one hit song in its day: it sold about two million copies of sheet music. What about the song do you think made it so popular?

If you take away the words, what kind of music does this song sound like? What does that suggest about people's attitudes about the war?

What symbolism does the song use? What "arguments" does the song use to persuade? Why do you think it uses the plural "we" instead of singular "I"?

From the clues given in the song, what reasons motivated most men to enlist? What seemed to be their feelings for the president? How do you know?

What, apparently, was important enough for people to fight for?

What sacrifices did men make by enlisting? What does the song suggest about what happened at home when men left to join the army?

Were enlistments enough to help the Union in 1862? Besides men, what else was needed to help the Union win the war?

What cause of the Civil War goes unmentioned in this song? Enslavement. Why do you think that is? Abolition remained very controversial in the states that did not secede from the Union. Lincoln kept his coalition together and recruited volunteers into the military by framing the war as a fight to save the country, not liberate enslaved people.


"We're Coming Father Abraam, 300,000 More" by The Dear Friends, © 1995. Used by permission.

Dear Friends, the performers of this song, take their name from the last words penned by Stephen Foster, "dear friends and gentle hearts." As their name indicates, they specialize in American vocal music, focusing on historically informed performances of classic songs. This song was recorded during a live performance of a concert of Civil War Songs.

View the lyrics for "We Are Coming Father Abraam."

View the published score.

We Are Coming Father Abraam 600,000 More

We are coming Father Abraham, 600,000 more! Words by J. Cullen Bryant, music by D. A. Warden, J. H. Johnson, song Publisher, ... Phila. Monographic. Online Text. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/amss.cw106370/>.

The text of this song was written by James Sloan Gibbons (1815–92). An American financier, philanthropist, and abolitionist, he was one of the chief supporters of the weekly newspaper the National Anti-Slavery Standard. Written in response to a serious need for more troops in the Union Army, “We Are Coming Father Abraam, 300,000 More” was originally published in the New York Evening Post on July 16, 1862. It inspired more than one composer to set it to music.
Although there were 500,000 volunteers in the field, more were needed. This song was followed closely by an appeal for 600,000 more, in "Abraham's Draft, 600,000 More" by Joseph W. Turner.

In spite of this musical propaganda, in 1863 Lincoln found that he needed to conscript in order to field an adequate fighting force. The South had begun its own draft a year earlier.

 

 

Compare this song to:

"Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag," a "recruiting" song parody from the Vietnam era (Unit 8).

Design a recruiting poster to go with this song.