We’ll Fight for Uncle Abe!

Words by C.E. Pratt, Music by Frederick Buckley

“Soon the Army of the Potomac will make the rebels fly….”

Noah Brooks

Written for the minstrel stage in 1862, “We’ll Fight for Uncle Abe” would originally have been performed in blackface. To anyone paying attention, the irony of white men in blackface singing about fighting in the army would have been especially bitter—blacks were still barred from the Union army when this song was written.

The song is a pretty good indication of the familiarity the country felt for Lincoln. Love him or hate him, he seemed accessible and ordinary, without the awe-inspiring remoteness of the sainted Founding Fathers or the intimidating presence of a Robert E. Lee or George McClellan. To Northern songwriters, he was always “Uncle Abe” or “Old Abe” or “Father Abraham.”

In Reunion, it’s done as a music hall trio sung by the general, the young soldier, and Lincoln’s secretary–three characters with strikingly different agendas, each trying to outdo the others in trumpeting his commitment to the cause.

Lyrics

Way down in old Virginny, I suppose you all do know
They have tried to bust the Union but they find it is no go.
The yankee boys are starting out the Union for to save,
And we’re marching down to Washington to fight for Uncle Abe!

Rip rap, flip flap,
Strap your knapsack on your back,
For we’re a-going to Washington
To fight for Uncle Abe!

The season now is coming when the roads begin to dry–
Soon the Army of the Potomac will make the rebels fly!
For General McClellan, he’s the man the Union for to save!
Oh, “Hail Columbia’s” right-side-up, and so’s your Uncle Abe!

Rip rap, flip flap,
Strap your knapsack on your back,
For we’re a-going to Washington
To fight for Uncle Abe!

Song Excerpt

Listen to “We’ll Fight for Uncle Abe!” performed by Jonathan Hadley, Don Burroughs and Gary Marachek of the original New York cast.

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Reunion original cast CD

Get your studio recording featuring 19 songs from Reunion performed by the original off-Broadway cast and orchestra.

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