A Song for the 200th Pa. Vols.

By John Rice, Co. I, 208th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, as his regiment watched the assault of their comrades in the 200th Pennsylvania during the Petersburg Campaign…

The Two Hundredth Pennsylvania, The Bravest in the field

Can whip the Johnny Rebels, Who are under General Lee.

We’re the boys of Pennsylvania, The truest and the tried;

And we love the old Union As the husband loves the bride.


Oh! Then, come along, come along, make us no delay;

We come from Pennsylvania, and we are not afraid.

We’re bound to beat the Johnnies, for our motto is “go ahead;”

And we’ll tell the starving Rebels, Our army is well led.

There are seven more patriotic verses similar in spirit to this first verse. The poem is meant to be sung to the tune of Uncle Sam’s Farm, a popular ditty during the war years. It shows rather dramatically how the morale of the Army of the Potomac had changed since 1862. Now, in the spring of 1865, with fresh troops, mountains of provisions, competent leadership in Grant, and Lee’s forces holed up in the trenches in Petersburg, many soldiers could sense the end coming. Pride and esprit de corps had replaced frustration for the common foot-soldier.

Here are the other verses…

The Two Hundredth Pennsylvanians Are determined not to yield –

We fought in front of Petersburg All in the open field.

Of all the daring soldiers, In the East or in the West,

This Pennsylvania regiment Is the greatest and the best.


And when the Keystone boys shall move, The foe shall go before

The Two Hundredth Pennsylvanians Of the Ninth Army Corps.

The Two Hundredth Pennsylvanians, You’ll find we will never lag;

For they are all determined to Stick to the Union flag.


The Two Hundredth Pennsylvanians, Are ready for the fray.

But we’ll never forget our dearest wives, and sweethearts far away.

But we’ll dream about them, And wonder if they’re right.

While we are in the army Determined all to fight.


We marched along in Hatcher’s Run, And Nottaway River far –

The Two Hundredth Pennsylvanians Are fearless sons of War.

And General Grant now ever famous, And ever famed shall be;

For he’s about to lick the Rebels, And catch old General Lee.


Twas on the second day of April, 1865, We fought our greatest battle,

Where many lost their lives. It was the greatest battle,

That ever I had heard; But on next morning we all marched

Right into Petersburg.


Our first exploit was marching One hundred miles or more;

And now I’m glad to tell you, This cruel war is o’er.

Now all good Union soldiers, You need not be alarmed;

For Uncle Sam is rich enough To give us all a farm.


May all with one opinion, The Union  laws obey

Throughout the whole Dominion, In North America;

And live to hail that season, Which Prophets have foretold,

When all shall live in love and peace, And have no rebels bold.

Categories: Civil War poetry | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “A Song for the 200th Pa. Vols.

  1. Joe Nihen

    Hi Scott,

    I’d be very interested in learning the rest of the poem/song written by John Rice of the 208th, Co. I. Would you kindly share the source of your information? I’m collecting material about the 208th; my 2nd great grandfather, Henry S. werline, was in Co. D.

    Many thanks,


  2. I have edited the blog entry to include the entire poem.

    The source is an unknown newspaper clipping found in an old family Bible by a friend of mine. It is thought to be from one of the York daily papers, perhaps the Gazette. Date is unknown. Would have to search the files of the York County Heritage Trust to see if a match is found in the old newspaper microfiche collection.

    There is an index card for Henry S. Werline in the State Archives in the PA Card File, but it contains absolutely no information for this soldier except his status as being in Company D of the 208th. Likewise, Samuel Bates’ History only lists his name. The National Archives would have his pension files and folder of any claims.

  3. Joe Nihen

    Hello Scott,

    Thank you for the kindness of posting the rest of the poem. It certainly adds that personal touch to the information I have about John Rice, and it’s just the stuff I’m seeking.

    By the way, I purchased your book Human Interest Stories of the Gettysburg Campaign on Amazon after reading the review. I’m eagerly awaiting it’s arrival. Perhaps I can find some pointers as to where to find the personal stories about the men of the 208th.

    My thanks!


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