“The Ghost of the Peanut Stand”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: before 1879 (broadside, LOCSinging sb30417a)
Keywords: courting army Civilwar separation death humorous ghost
Found in: Canada(Mar)

Description

Biddie Magee owns a Jersey City peanut stand. She loves Connie O'Ryan who joins the army. Biddy takes to bed and dies, "the peanut-stand went up the spout," Connie is drummed out. Her house is haunted by the ghosts of Biddy, Connie, and the peanut stand

Notes

The De Marsan text is more complete than the Creighton-SNewBrunswick fragment, and is the basis for the description. If nothing else, the De Marsan text dates itself to the Civil War: Connie "got in with a parcel of Jersey roughs; they led him around like a toy; So, he joined the New-York Fire-Zoo-Zoos, and he went for a soger-boy."

The Union 11th [New York] Regiment Infantry "1st New York Fire Zouaves" were mustered in May 7, 1861 and mustered out June 2, 1862. (source: The Civil War Archive site); see also "Abraham's Daughter" for a reference to "the fire Zou-Zous." - BS

As the dates above show, the 11th New York was not long in service (a lucky bunch; they enlisted for two years but served only one); its only real battle was First Bull Run, though it was also involved in the early part of the Peninsular campaign. It was called the "Fire Zouaves" because many of the members were New York firemen -- skills which they put to good use in fighting a fire that threatened to consume part of Washington, D.C. Otherwise, its service was noteworthy mostly for the rowdy conduct of the troops.

The regiment was also famous for its first colonel, E. Elmer Ellsworth (1837-1861), who in 1862 led the regiment into Alexandria, Virginia, and proceeded to tear down the Confederate flag flying over the Marshall House hotel. The owner, James T. Jackson, proceeded to murder Ellsworth (and was killed in return by one of Ellsworth's soldiers), making the young soldier an instant martyr.

It will be observed that the odds of an Irish peanut vendor joining that particular regiment were pretty small -- but, of course, the unit was unusually well-known and hence a likely subject for songs. - RBW

Broadside LOCSinging sb30417a: H. De Marsan dating per _Studying Nineteenth-Century Popular Song_ by Paul Charosh in American Music, Winter 1997, Vol 15.4, Table 1, available at FindArticles site. - BS

Cross references

Broadsides

References

  1. Creighton-SNewBrunswick 70, "The Ghost of the Peanut Stand" (2 fragments, 1 tune)
  2. Roud #2762
  3. BI, CrSNB070