Abe's Retreat

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ABE'S RETREAT. AKA and see "Battle of Bull Run (The)," "Manassas Junction." Old‑Time, Breakdown. USA, W.Va. A Mixolydian. Standard, AEae or GDgd (Harvey Sampson) tunings (fiddle). AABB. The alternate title makes it clear that the 'Abe' referred to in the title is Abraham Lincoln, who, as President, was Commander in Chief of the brand-new Union army that met a disastrous defeat at the Battle of Bull Run (or, in the South, the Battle of 1st Manassas), Virginia, July 21st, 1861. The tune was in the repertoire of Wilson Douglas (1922-1999), a fiddler from Clay County, West Virginia. Another famous West Virginia fiddler, Burl Hammons, plays a similar tune, according to Bill Hicks (1975), and remembers a song connected with the tune having to do with Noah's Ark, with the refrain "forty days and forty nights."

Source for notated version: collected in the 1950's from W.Va. fiddler Emory Bailey (Calhoun County, W.Va.) by Dr. Malvin Artley of Elon College, N.C., via the Red Clay Ramblers (N.C.) [Spadaro]; Paul Kotapish (Berkeley, CA, c. 1970's) [Songer].

Printed sources: Songer (Portland Collection), 1997, p. 17. Spadaro (10 Cents a Dance), 1980; p. 47.

Recorded sources: Appleseed Records, Cordelia's Dad - "Spine" (1998). Augusta Heritage Recordings AHR-004C, Harvey Sampson and the Big Possum String Band - "Flat Foot in the Ashes" (1986/1994. Learned by Calhoun County, W.Va., fiddler Sampson from his father and brother Homer). Cassette C-7625, Wilson Douglas - "Back Porch Symphony." Wilson Douglas - "Fiddle Tunes from Central West Virginia." Flying Fish 009, Red Clay Ramblers - "Stolen Love" (1975). New Lost City Ramblers - "There Ain't No Way Out." Rafe Stefani - "Hell and Scissors" (based on Emory Bailey's version). PearlMae Muisc 004-2, Jim Taylor - "The Civil War Collection" (1996).

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