We Know That We Were Rebels;

or Why Can We Not Be Brothers,

By Clarence Prentice

Why can we not be brothers? the battle now is o’er;
We’ve laid our bruised arms on the field to take them up no more;
We who have fought you hard and long, now overpower’d, stand
As poor, defenseless prisoners in our own native land.

Chorus.—We know that we were rebels,
And we don’t deny the name,
We speak of that which we have done
With grief, but not with shame!

But we have rights most sacred, by solemn compact bound,
Seal’d by the blood that freely gush’d from many a ghastly wound;
When Lee gave up his trusty sword, and his men laid down their arms,
It was that they should live at home, secure from war’s dire harms.
Chorus.

And surely, since we’re now disarm’d, we are not to be dreaded;
Our old chiefs, who on many fields our trusty columns headed,
Are fast within an iron grasp, and manacled with chains,
Perchance, ’twixt dreary walls to stay as long as life remains!
Chorus.

O shame upon the coward band who, in the conflict dire,
Went not to battle for their cause, ’mid the ranks of steel and fire,
Yet now, since all the fighting’s done, are hourly heard to cry:
“Down with the traitors! hang them all! each rebel dog shall die!”
Chorus.

We know that we were rebels, we don’t deny the name,
We speak of that which we have done with grief, but not with shame!
And we never will acknowledge that the blood the South has spilt,
Was shed defending what we deemed a cause of wrong and guilt.
Chorus.