combat writing badge C O M B A T
the Literary Expression of Battlefield Touchstones
ISSN 1542-1546 Volume 03 Number 03 Summer ©Jul 2005

In My Shoes
dedicated to Private James W. Rhodes, shoemaker, 37th Georgia Infantry,
and ancestor of the author's husband, children, and grandchildren

      One million men are needing shoes
      Beneath their ragged gray pant legs,
      To march in war against the blues.
      For our bare feet oppose the Feds,

      Repel the Northerners' advance
      Defend our precious States' Rights soil.
      In blistered, bleeding, freezing stance,
      Bragg's limping army, ever loyal.

      The brogans we had are all worn out,
      Beyond repair, but we still fight,
      While country cobblers try to help out.
      At Richmond, Congress sees our plight,

      Allows two thousand soldiers sent
      To factories throughout the South,
      Detailed to make us shoes, to sprint
      and dodge the Minié-balls en route.

      It's April 1863,
      Shoes for Bragg is quite a task,
      A near impossibility.
      But Major Cunningham now asks

      For soldiers skilled in leather-craft
      Transferred to Quartermaster crews.
      He asks for sixty, but gets half,
      From duty, deathly grim, excused.

      Atlanta bound, we lucky thirty,
      Arrive to join the forty there,
      In making Rebel shoes so sturdy,
      As if to say, "I care, I care!"

      We've done our share of facing a gun.
      Are not ashamed to serve this way.
      We've shirked no duty, nor have we run,
      In spite of what you're apt to say.

      Day in, day out, we ply our trade,
      Except for Saturdays we drill,
      In case the Yankees should invade,
      And Sundays are ours for praying with zeal.

      A year has come and gone, and it's July.
      Brand new and frayless blue pant legs,
      And brogans called gunboats, Oh My!
      Are marching on Atlanta's edge.

      Overhead, all through the sky,
      General Sherman is shelling the city like Hell.
      Eight days we shoemaker soldiers stand by,
      Then under orders say farewell.

      Augusta bound we slip out of town
      The arsenal gives us a place to stay.
      And space to make our shoes is found,
      For Major Bridewell has his say.

      Nine months have come and gone, and it's May.
      The soldiers no longer need our shoes
      Beneath defeated pant legs gray.
      To march in war against the blues.

      Now homeward bound we take our leave.
      Embrace our families once more.
      The times we hardly can conceive,
      Behold! The wolf is at the door,

      With Union paws, extending claws,
      As carpetbaggers soon arrive
      In two-tone shoes to change our laws,
      And buy our land — so we survive.

      When Northern boys and girls meet ours
      A life together they so choose.
      The love they find has healing powers,
      And Grandpa has complying shoes.

by Dorris Douglass
... who is a Special Collections librarian, with works previously published in local historical journals and America's Civil War (March 1996). Her antecedents include both Union and Confederate veterans, and a World War II career officer.

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