People are universally interested in conflict, and this shows up throughout the worlds of art, sport, and popular entertainment. In contemporary music the conflict is almost always romantic in nature, no doubt reflecting the primary concern of many young songwriters. This has left the rich vein of historical conflict almost entirely untapped. But, there are some exceptions.
Relevant to this blog is Jididiah 1777, a song written by Eliza Gilkyson, in tribute to Major-General Jididiah Huntington, to whom she is related. Despite the unusual topic, the song is both beautiful and moving. The lyrics refer to Huntington's time at Valley Forge, his hopes for his new nation, and his courtship of his future wife. Remarkably, the better part of the lyrics are taken directly from his correspondence.
You can listen to the song online, by going to the link below, and then pressing the play button for this song.
I found the following lyrics online, which I believe are correct.
Jedidiah out in the snow
Walkin' the frozen trenchlines
Wet boots and his wool coat comin' apart at the seams.
Rations of hard-baked dough,
Handfuls of melting snow
What else can a man live on but his dreams?
Not twenty miles away,
in the mansions of Philadelphia,
Loyalists lay their money down on the king.
We've provision enough for the day,
but if victory were just for the wealthy
Our noble cause wouldn't be worth the hardship we're suffering.
Send the cloth for a good waistcoat,
I dream of your hearth and the fields of oat.
I awake to the drum and the trembling note of the fifer.
May it please God in His great mercy,
To shelter our friends and our family.
I remain your son most faithfully,
I have seen a man, who has seen a man
who has heard the king,
Tell of his intention our independence to declare.
The peace will undoubtedly bring
A great revolution in commerce;
May it be our rightful fortune to come in for a share.
My regards to a certain Miss Moore,
I've stated my honorable intentions for her;
That upon my return from this necessary war she'll be my wife.
May it please God in His great mercy
to restore the joys of domesticity.
Salutations to the family,
I rejoice that the cause we're engaged in
is in the hands of an Almighty Sovereign;
Who I doubt not is accomplishing the ends of His desire.
My love to you and the fair Miss Moore;
Spare me a bottle from the cellar store,
and in my name let the contents pour,
You can also here the artist discuss this song and perform it live on a past episode of NPR's World Cafe (Jedidiah 1777 comes up after three other songs).