(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
THE SWEET LITTLE MAN.
Dedicated to the Stay-at-home Rangers.
Now, while our soldiers are fighting our battles,
Each at his post to do all that he can,
Down among rebels and contraband chattels,
What are you doing, my sweet little man?
All the brave boys under canvass are sleeping,
All of them pressing to march with the van,
Far from the home where their sweethearts are weeping;
What are you waiting for, sweet little man?
You with the terrible warlike moustaches,
Fit for a colonel or chief of a clan,
You with the waist made for sword-belts and sashes,
Where are your shoulder-straps, sweet little man?
Bring him the buttonless garment of woman!
Cover his face lest it freckle and tan;
Muster the Apron-string Guards on the Common,
That is the corps for the sweet little man!
Give him for escort a file of young misses,
Each of them armed with a deadly rattan;
They shall defend him from laughter and hisses,
Aimed by low boys at the sweet little man.
All the fair maidens about him shall cluster,
Pluck the white feathers from bonnet and fan,
Make him a plume like a turkey-wing duster,--
That is the crest for the sweet little man!
O, but the Apron-string Guards are the fellows!
Drilling each day since our troubles began,--
"Handle your walking-sticks!" "Shoulder umbrellas!"
That is the style for the sweet little man!
Have we a nation to save? In the first place
Saving ourselves is the sensible plan,--
Surely the spot where thereís shooting the worst place
Where I can stand, says the sweet little man.
Catch me confiding my person with strangers!
Think how the cowardly Bull-Runners ran!
In the brigade of the Stay-at-home Rangers
Marches my corps, says the sweet little man.
Such was the stuff of the Makakoff-takers,
Such were the soldiers that scaled the Redan,
Truculent housemaids and bloodthirsty Quakers
Brave not the wrath of the sweet little man.
Yield him the side-walk, ye nursery maidens!
Sauve qui peut! Bridget, and right about! Ann,--
Fierce as a shark in a school of menhadens,
See him advancing, the sweet little man!
When the red flails of the battle-field threshers
Beat out the continentís wheat from its bran,
While the wind scatters the chaffy seceshers,
What will become of our sweet little man?
When the brown soldiers come back from the borders,
How will he look while his features they scan?
How will he feel when he gets marching orders,
Signed by his lady love! sweet little man!
Fear not for him, though the rebels expect him,--
Life is too precious to shorten its span;
Woman her broomstick shall raise to protect him,
Will she not fight for the sweet little man!
Now then, nine cheers for the Stay-at-home-Ranger!
Blow the great fish-horn and beat the big pan!
First in the field that is farthest from danger,
Take your white feather plume, SWEET LITTLE MAN!
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Prior to March, 1863, when Congress passed the first conscription or draft law, Union armies relied entirely on volunteers to fill their ranks. A sense of patriotism and peer pressure caused many young men to join the army, but individuals could also avoid military duty. The author of this anonymous poem, written sometime after the battle of Bull Run, Virginia, in July 1861, berates those who won't answer the call to arms and choose to stay at home with the women.
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"The Sweet Little Man."
| creator Unidentified
| date c. 1861
| location Unknown
| width 5.0"
| height 8.0"
| process/materials printed paper, ink
| item type Communication/Poetry/Ballad/Song
| accession # #L01.077
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