Tenting on the Old Camp-Ground

Words & Music by Walter F. Kittredge

“We are tired of war on the old camp ground! Many are dead and gone….”

Noah Brooks

Walter F. Kittredge was a singer with the famous Hutchinson Family Singers, headliners of their day and vocal supporters of both abolition and Lincoln. He wrote this standard in 1864 after receiving his draft summons to serve in the Union army. Though the song became familiar to later generations only as maudlin glee club material, the lyrics actually reflect some very direct rage over the killing that showed no signs of stopping, as the soldiers watch despairingly for signs of “the dawn of peace.”

Lyrics

Many are the hearts that are weary tonight,
Wishing for the war to cease;
Many are the hearts that are looking for the right
To see the dawn of peace.

Tenting tonight, tenting tonight,
Tenting on the old camp ground.

We’ve been fighting today on the old camp ground,
Many are lying near.
Some are dead and some are dying,
Many are in tears.

Many are the hearts that are weary tonight,
Wishing for the war to cease;
Many are the hearts that are looking for the right
To see the dawn of peace.

Tenting tonight, tenting tonight,
Tenting on the old camp ground.

We are tired of war on the old camp ground!
Many are dead and gone
Of the brave and true who’ve left their homes–
Others been wounded long.

Many are the hearts that are weary tonight,
Wishing for the war to cease;
Many are the hearts that are looking for the right
To see the dawn of peace.

Dying tonight,
Dying tonight,
Dying on the old camp ground.

Song Excerpt

Listen to “Tenting on the Old Camp-Ground” performed by Don Burroughs, Keith Lee Grant, Jonathan Hadley and Gary Marachek of the original New York cast.

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