Capturing the Confederate capital city of Richmond was the main goal of the Union Army from the very beginning of the War. Lincoln entrusted any number of commanders with the task, and although each set out with high hopes, none succeeded. In addition to being a wickedly funny roasting of the Union generals who tried and failed to take Richmond, this song (sung to Daniel Emmettt's minstrel tune "Jordan Am a Hard Road to Travel") also provides a thumbnail history of the major battles from First Manassas in July of 1861 to Fredericksburg in December of 1862.

Irvin McDowell was defeated by the combined forces of Joseph E. Johnston, P.G.T. Beauregard, and Stonewall Jackson at First Manassas July 21, 1861.

John C. Fremont (aka "the Wooly Horse") and Nathaniel Banks were both frustrated by Jackson's Army of the Valley as they attempted to reach Richmond by way of the Shenandoah Valley. In addition to losing the struggle against Stonewall, Banks also lost great quantities of supplies and earned himself the derogatory nickname "Commissary" for his unintentional supplying of Confederate troops.

The Galena, the Monitor, and the Naugatuck were all Union naval vessels that attempted to take Richmond by sailing up the James River, which flows through the heart of the city. None made it past Confederate gun emplacements at Drewry's Bluff

The next assault against the capital was led by George B. McClellan, who took his troops from Washington to Yorktown by ship in the summer of 1862 and proceeded to move up the Virginia Peninsula toward Richmond. The wounding of Joseph Johnston at Seven Pines catapulted Robert E. Lee into command of the Army of Northern Virginia, and the largest military campaign ever mounted on American soil ended in dismal failure.

John Pope had no better luck at Manassas than McDowell had had 13 months earlier. After issuing a "famous proclamation" in which he declared that all slaves who came into Union lines would be treated as "contraband of war" and promising that his army would never retreat, Pope was soundly thrashed by Lee, Jackson, and James Longstreet at the Battle of Second Manassas August 29 and 30, 1862.

Ambrose Burnside hit upon the bright idea of crossing the Rappahannock River on pontoon bridges and moving south to Richmond from Fredericksburg. He might have succeeded had he not run into the same trio that spoiled Pope's day at Manassas. Federal casualties were staggering as Burnside threw wave after wave against the stone wall at the foot of Marye's Heights December 12 and 13, 1862.

This song is dedicated to John Adams, the only person I know (besides myself) who can sing all the verses from memory.

"Richmond Is a Hard Road to Travel"