Two little boys- my childhood song- the American Civil War connection

February 21, 2012 at 11:56 pm 7 comments

Two Little Boys” is a song written by American composer Theodore Morse and lyricist Edward Madden. It was written in 1902 and became a popular music hall song of the time, made popular by Harry Lauder. It describes the story of two boys who grow up to fight in the American Civil War. In 1969, it became a surprise No. 1 top-selling single for entertainer Rolf Harris in the United Kingdom.

My mother used to sing this song to me along with others such as Sweet Polly Oliver – not your typical lullabye. My father would sing to me as well, Ghost Riders and the Naughty Lady of Shady Lane. My grandmother also very vocal , with her “ditties”, and of course the Highwayman 🙂

But Two Little Boys always made me cry and yet I would ask my mum to sing it over and over again. I used to sing this to my son when he was a baby and colicky . I used to think of the Lorain connection to the Civil war and later the Gilmore connection- and Fanny of the Civil War Letters – who was our neighbor in a different time and age – but whose legacy lingers ……..

My daughter emailed a phone picture to me yesterday, as Gavin had decided Braedyn needed his company and protection ( along with Buzz Lightyear) as Braedyn was trying out the “big crib” – Gavin was showing him how it is done…. I thought of my two little “American Boys” and the American connection to my own very “English” childhood…

Morse – Madden arr. Braden) H. Darewski Music / EMI / Redwood Music (P) 1969
Cond. Alan Braden – Produced by Mickey Clarke

Two little boys had two little toys
Each had a wooden horse
Gaily they played each summer’s day
Warriors both of course
One little chap then had a mishap
Broke off his horse’s head
Wept for his toy then cried with joy
As his young playmate said

Did you think I would leave you crying
When there’s room on my horse for two
Climb up here Jack and don’t be crying
I can go just as fast with two
When we grow up we’ll both be soldiers
And our horses will not be toys
And I wonder if we’ll remember
When we were two little boys

Long years had passed, war came so fast
Bravely they marched away
Cannon roared loud, and in the mad crowd
Wounded and dying lay
Up goes a shout, a horse dashes out
Out from the ranks so blue
Gallops away to where Joe lay
Then came a voice he knew

Did you think I would leave you dying
When there’s room on my horse for two
Climb up here Joe, we’ll soon be flying
I can go just as fast with two
Did you say Joe I’m all a-tremble
Perhaps it’s the battle’s noise
But I think it’s that I remember
When we were two little boys

Entry filed under: Brit take, Love, Mothers. Tags: , , , .

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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Dennis Lamont  |  February 22, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Slowly but slowly the true horror of the (not so) Civil War is coming to the front. The glamour of the “lost cause” is being stripped away and we see it in it’s true colors …White Supremacy …..May we allot it its’s proper place in our history, learn something constructive from it and move on.

  • […] it probably is a throw back to another of my mother’s poems and a remembered passage… And no tree begrudges The little Puk-Wudgies A pocket of acorns, a handful of […]

  • 4. jp  |  March 15, 2014 at 2:24 am

    This is also My favorite song my mom sang it to me a long time ago and I will never forget it totally amazing

  • 5. Cocky  |  January 15, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    I will never forget my Grandmother singing this song for me. I found it chilling then and still do. I loved it so when she sang it I just watched The Water Diviner and it prompted me to think of this song.

  • 6. john neary  |  April 10, 2015 at 11:54 pm

    I’m glad I look that song up tears are coming from my eyes as I remember sitting on the floor and listening to my mother sing is to us I’m 61 years old now what more can I say I’m glad I found this song thank you

  • 7. Dana Wallace  |  January 21, 2019 at 6:40 pm

    There was a poem that went into much more detail than the song, telling how the brothers joined different sides of the army. If anyone knows where I can find it please contact me at Thanks in advance for any help I might get.

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February 2012

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