Words and Music by Dennis Livingston

The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong…but time and chance happeneth to them all. (Ecclesiastes 9:11)

Some folks think that life is like a book,
surely written according to a preordained plan.
Others believe we have the freedom to choose
whatever path to take as best we all can.

Myself, I say that chance may play a role,
could be more of an influence than we would admit.
I have a story that I'd like to relate.
It illustrates my point in a way that's most fit.

My tale concerns two different pieces of paper,
linked together by friend and foe.
It's eighteen sixty-two, the Civil War…
a long time ago.

The first piece of paper is famous everywhere,
the Emancipation Proclamation,
freedom's mighty garrison!
The other piece of paper is scarcely remembered:
Special Orders Number One Nine One.

Two generals lead the armies of North and South...

Way up North is George B. McClellan,
the officer known as Little Mac.
His men all adore him, he keeps them well provided.
He's cautious to a fault, reluctant to attack.

Way down South, in the land of cotton,
fortune smiles, any fool can see.
In charge is a leader who's bold and even reckless.
He's nimble and decisive, that's Robert E. Lee.

Lee stops the Yanks from attacking Richmond,
beats them again at Second Bull Run,
writes down a plan to invade Maryland,
sweep through the state, threaten the North
everywhere from Philadelphia to Washington.

While Lee prepares, tension grips the White House,
Lincoln must hear if the Union has won
any assault blocking Lee's progress
before he can say slaves will be free
everywhere from San Antonio to Arlington.

Lee sends the plan swiftly to his generals.
If they succeed, the country's undone.
Longstreet and Hill, Jackson and Stuart
get their commands, as they advance.
Then something unexpected happens to a copy of …
Special Orders Number One Nine One.

9AM, September 13 th, 1862, Fred'rick, Maryland.
Introducing …

Several members of the
Twenty-Seventh Indiana Volunteer
Infantry Regiment.
It's been a nasty war.
They're takin' a break in a field of clover,
vacated by some rebel troops
a couple of days before.

Barton W. Mitchell gives a weary shout,
as he spies an envelope nearby.
It's not too hard to see.
Then First Sergeant Bloss takes a quick look inside.
He says, "Boys, you'll never guess what we found."

He shows a piece of paper wrapped around three cigars
and reads it carefully from front to back.
He says, "It's a lost copy of the rebel plan.
We gotta send this up the line to Little Mac."

The latter gentleman gives a leap of joy
when he sees the plan 'round 'bout noon.
He says, "Good God, I know exactly what Lee intends,"
and gathering his troops, he moves none too soon.
The Blue and the Grey clash a few days later,
at the battle named after Antietam Creek.
Lee is pushed back, he tells his troops to withdraw.
The South is stopped from finishing the war this week.

Now Lincoln receives the news he's been waiting for,
the time is right to get some business done.
He sends forth to an anxious nation
the Emancipation Proclamation.
The long march of freedom has just begun.

Thanks to the South that by chance had lost,
thanks to the North that by chance had found,
Special Orders Number One Nine One.




"Antietam" is pronounced "An-TEE-dum", with a soft "d"
Italic lines are spoken, except for the quotation at the beginning.





© 2002 Hallmark Music Co.


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