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Contributing Musicians

Clark Hansbarger
Mike Jewell
Allen Kitselman
Gary McGraw

After Petersburg / April 3, 1865

Lyrics and Story:

 

We fought em on the ramparts.
Fought em in the fields.
Fought em in the crater, man,
when they blew it all to hell.

We held it through the starving.
Held it through the rain.
We held it through the terrible killing
when the charges came.

How much longer, Marse Robert?
How much more to go?
We gave our best in Petersburg,
Now were running down this road.

We watched them bringing up the troops,
fat and freshly drawn.
We buried our brothers shot and starved,
Beneath that cold, hard ground.

We saw the fires of Richmond.
Heard the women sing.
Hymnals in darkness,
we heard the church bells ring

How much longer, Marse Robert?
How much more to go?
We gave our best in Petersburg,
Now were running down this road.

 

After Petersburg : TheFinal March to Appomattox

Petersburg - Civil War Songs - After Petersburg

Recapture the Crater (oldgloryprints.com)

On April 2, 1865, after seven months of siege, Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia evacuated the battlements of Petersburg, abandoning Richmond to the Union. For three days,  Lee’s remaining troops fled west, first towards Amelia Courthouse and then on to Appomattox Station in search of much needed supplies.

Starving, exhausted and harried by Union forces the entire way, Lee’s army was divided by Sheridan’s cavalry and Yankee infantry at the Battle of Saylor’s Creek. This engagement slowed the retreat enough for Union cavalry under George Custer to reach Appomattox Station first, capturing the stores there and ending hopes of relief for the Confederate army. Though Lee and his men continued to move west– their eyes now on Lynchburg with the aim of eventually joining with Joseph Johnston’s Army of Tennessee– this was the final act.  By August 8, Union forces controlled the ground ahead and behind of the Confederate army, forcing Lee to surrender on August 9, 1865.

Petersburg - Civil War Songs - After PetersburgThis song is about the desperate march of these last days, and the looming question Lee’s  men surely had of him.  The question is not one of disloyalty, but of exhaustion. The narrator and his fellow soldiers have endured the worst of the siege and fall of Petersburg, and now ask, “How much longer, Marse Robert?”  Their question and the moniker they use— one that now seems ironic in its association to slavery — implies that they will stop only when he gives the word, when he has released them from a duty they have fulfilled time and again.

The Siege and Fall of Petersburg

Battle of the Crater at Petersburg

Confederate Soldier’s Account of the Crater

Siege of Petersburg (National Park Service site)

The Siege of Petersburg

The Fall of Petersburg

The Fall and Burning of Richmond

The Retreat and Surrender

Map of Lee’s Retreat from Petersburg

The Surrender : Appomattox Court House

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