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Contributing Musicians

Kara Hansbarger
Clark Hansbarger
Allen Kitselman
Joe Faber

The Tailor from Kingsport / July 4, 1865

Lyrics and Story:

 

For ten years a tailor,
In East Tennessee.
A shop down in Kingsport,
A wife who loved me.

Two children together,
A warm bed at night.
The moon though the window
Me holding her tight.

I left out of Knoxville,
On a battle-bound train
for Cumberland Gap
with the Hamilton Grays.

Was wounded in Shiloh.
I slept in the fields
Lost my arm down near Nashville
on Peach Orchard Hill.

Too many battles for one man to face.
Too many years of being away.
Too many hardships and too many days
And not enough water now to wash it away.

With thimble and needle,
I tended his shop,
Mending my broken heart
While he was gone.

Watching the papers.
Reading the names.
From the battles
He fought in a far away place.

He left here my husband
And now he’s returned,
Only the husk
of the man that I knew.

I sit at the table,
Trying to hear
The words that he mouths
when no one is near.

Too many battles for one man to face.
Too many years of being away.
Too many hardships and too many days.
And not enough water now to wash it away.

 

The Tailor from Kingsport : Post-Traumatic Stress and The War

Kingsport TN - Civil War Songs - The Tailor from Kingsport

Soldiers recovering outside of a makeshift hospital
(Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, #cwp4a39505)

Mustered into service in Knoxville during the spring of 1861, the 19th Tennessee Voluntary Infantry Regiment was formed of men from East Tennessee, an area with strong loyalty to the Union. By the end of the war, the 19th Tennessee Infantry had fought in thirteen major engagements. At the surrender of the Army of Tennessee on April 26, 1865, only 58 of the original 1,060 volunteers were in attendance.

This song is the story of one volunteer, a tailor from Kingsport, who left wife and family to enlist. Like so many soldiers North and South, he had no previous military experience, but joined from a regional and state patriotism.  For three years, he criss-crossed the South, engaged in some of the most brutal fighting of the war, facing the chaos and horror of Shiloh and a dozen other battles.

Because this song takes place after he has returned, it is also his wife’s story and thus introduces the trials of the home front.  In the bloody charges on Peach Orchard Hill during the Battle of Nashville, he lost his arm — and with it both his livelihood and his role in the family.  He has faced more than he could endure and has come home insensible and unable to express his emotions, a victim of what was known then as Soldier’s Heart — what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder.

A note:  A soldier from Kingsport would have served with Sullivan County’s Blountville Guards, not the Hamilton County Grays. Please forgive my poetic license, but the Grays better fit the rhyme and mood of the song.

19th Tennessee Volunteer Infantry

19th Tennessee Volunteer Infantry

Overview of 19th Tennessee

Battle of Nashville

The Decisive Battle of Nashville

Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome and The Civil War

Suffering in Silence : Psychological Disorders and Soldiers in the American Civil War

Soldier’s Heart” and The American Civil War 

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