Grab a Root!

Officers, in their elevated positions on horseback, had to duck shells, by reflex, to the amusement of those whose feet were on the ground instead of in stirrups. The catch-phrase of desperation no doubt arose from climbing steep slopes and perhaps being swept downstream as well.

From History of the 90th Ohio: “Grab a Root”:

While soldiering in the Army of the Cumberland,
Some Johnnies to shoot.
We stubbed our toe, fell down in the mud,
And the boys, hollowed, ”Grab a Root !”

The origin of the word we never heard.
Yet, it always seemed to suit,
For, no matter what to you occurred,
They would tell you to “Grab a Root.”

The Colonel of the 31st rode a mare —
A scary sort of a brute —
At the Catoosa Springs she threw him.
When one of the boys hollowed, “Grab a Root.”

A new recruit was stealing meat.
Because he thought it cute,
But when the guard marched him off to Gen. Cruft,
The boys hollowed, “Grab a Root.”

At Ooltewah we were crossing on a log
With a canteen full of old jute.
When we lost our balance and in we went.
And Smith hollowed, “Grab a Root.”

A drunken bummer rode a mouse-colored mule —
A bucking son-of-a-galoot —
And when he threw him and nearly broke his neck.
The boys hollowed, “Grab a Root.”

A goose hissed at us when we foraged,
As a disloyal old brute.
But when the Major ordered us front in disgrace,
George Harney whispered, “Grab a Root.”

Down in Hog- Jaw Valley we heard a gun,
For some one in the distance did shoot.
But at the command, “Attention ! I heard a gun,”
Some one remarked, “Grab a Root.”

We shot the load from our gun in camp,
When there was positive orders not to shoot ;
But as the General was placing us on the General’s
staff,
The boys hollowed, “Grab a Root.”

A dude of a Sergeant got full of beer ;
He sang a song he thought was cute,
But at the end of every verse he sang,
The boys hollowed, “Grab a Root.”

The Sergeant got mad and wanted to fight.
And finally began talking shoot.
Then he stormed and raved till he foamed at the mouth.
And the boys hollowed, “Grab a Root.”

An officer swore it was cowardly to dodge
When the Johnnies too near would shoot,
But when he dropped at a shell passing high in the air,
The boys hollowed, “Grab a Root.”

Sylvester Rader, Co. T.

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