The Great Show of Beauregard, Johnston, Jeff. Davis & Co.

Come up, my good people, and see the great show
Greatly improved for the summer campaign.
Our stay will be short, and never again
Will you find our performances coming this way;
Our expenses are large, and the thing doesn't pay.
In praising our show you will find but one voice,
And “children in arms” make us greatly rejoice.
Wherever we’ve been all have rushed to the show
So please walk up, good people and when the bell rings
The curtain goes up and the performance begins,
By the greatest of singers, though now in France, he
Will make himself heard, and his name it is Yancey.
All Europe went crazy to hear the man sing
That famous old melody, “Cotton is King.”
Then right after the song comes on the play,
Where all the great actors have something to say.
Floyd’s part is first robber, and Benjamin’s second—
Though in ability he’s generally reckoned
Equal to any, and inferior to none;
His acting has proved it, as he often has shown.
Then there is Jefferson Davis so jolly and fresh,
Plays the part of the Devil, though they call it “secesh;”
For fear that some people might make an objection
To call him the Devil, which he plays to perfection.
He pitches and tumbles, he snorts and he swears;
He pulls all his little dogs round by the ears,
He cuffs them, and pounds them, and lashes them all,
He whistles their names, and they answer his call.
There’s Letcher, and Johnston, and Beauregard (French)
The latter young doggy sleeps out in a trench:
There’s Toombs, and there’s Wigfall,--two miserable whelps—
All they are kept for is their howls and their yelps;
But then, you know all of this helps to make a big noise,
Which attracts the attention of very small boys;
Though in these latter days they have been rather quiet
For Jeff he has kept them on a mighty light diet.
Then there is ex-Governor lunatic Wise;
Like other mad dogs, he keeps snapping at flies;
But he never will hurt you, so don’t be afraid, for
Snapping and snarling is just what he is paid for.
Besides all of these, Jeff. Davis’ kennel abounds
With many other young puppies and hounds.
So walk up, good people, and see the great show
There’s Johnny Breckinridge mixed in the strife.
Plays the part of the two-sided man to the life.
And old Johnny Tyler who’s nought else to do man[?],
Has made an engagement to play first old woman.
There are numerous others, and ‘twas my intention
To speak of them separately, each one to mention,
But the list is too long, suffice it to say
That now is your chance, so just walk up and pay
To see the great actors that are now all the rage,
‘Tis their farewell engagement, they’ll soon quit the stage.
So come up good people, and see the great show
But stop just a moment there’s a thing I’d forgotten
To tell you our company live upon cotton;
They eat it, and drink it and what is more funny,
They take the same article [‘m]on[g??] them for money.
If you think that I’m fibbing, just walk in and see,
You’ll find that I’m telling the truth to a T,
And that Jefferson Davis will prove unto you
By some under-hand trick which you cannot see through,
(Though in reality its all a myth
Got up expressly to fool people with,)
That England and France, and the rest of creation
Will surely be ruined by utter starvation
If they dont buy cotton at once from the show
There is once other thing that now I will mention
And ask for a moment your special attention:
In order that you may remember the day
The “great exhibition” came travelling this way.
Just pull out your money-bags now ere you go.
--Take one of our bonds to remember the show!
They are signed, just remember, by Davis himself,
And will be mighty nice to hang up o’er the shelf;
So you and your children who come on hereafter
May indulge daily in a little loud laughter,
And the youngsters will all gather around as you tell
Of the sell you got sold with though now it wont sell.
Now all of this may be seen for a quarter—
Of what you are worth—and not a cent shorter!
There is one other thing which I nearly forgot,
‘Tis the last of the sights, and the best of the lot;
It is worth the whole price of admittance to see
‘Tis a tight rope performance by Jefferson D.,
In which the performance will be suddenly hurled
From his high elevation, right out of the world.
And this my kind friends put an end to the show

Title:The Great Show of Beauregard, Johnston, Jeff. Davis & Co.


Publication:The Cleveland Plain Dealer

Published in:

Date:September 7th 1861



This lively Union satire presents various figures from the Confederate military and political structure as fairground attractions. It is a rhythmically clever poem with its triple beats creating a galloping effect. It also makes much of its comically absurd rhymes, attempting to belittle the political figures it refers to. Interestingly, the poem, even at this early stage in the war, also refers directly to English and French reliance on cotton. – SR