These questions relate to the lyrics, music, the cd wallet/jacket, and the website ( for “Hardscrabble.” Answering these questions might also require research using sources related to US Grant, the Civil War, Grant’s two terms as President, Reconstruction, and perhaps some literature (for references in the songs). The website includes the lyrics, a rendition of the cd jacket, and a link to the songs.

I Questions relating to the cd jacket.

1. The cover of the cd is a variation on a famous photograph of Grant.


2. Staying with the cover.

3. Opening the cd jacket, let’s consider some of the illustrations.

II Questions relating to the lyrics and music

4. Track 1, USG.

5. Track 2, Julia

6. Track 3, Hardscrabble

7. Track 4, Dixie 1 and Track 5, Dixie 2

8. Track 6, Whittle That

9. Track 8, The Wounded Wheel

10. Track 12, Tara

11. Track 14, Hotel Lobby-ists

12. True Master’s Heir

13. Track 17, One More Round

14. Track 18, As I Lie Dying

15. Track 19, It Would Not Take …

III Some Literary/Scriptural References

16. In Track 8, The Wounded Wheel, what is the source of “Lord I know you clothe the lilies of the field”?

17. Track 12, Tara. What rather famous line from the novel (that is, the one this song is based on) is found in the lyrics.

18. In Track 14, Hotel Lobbyists, Grant states “I could use a David Copperfield …” What does he mean here – he could use a magician? If not, what is this reference to and what does it mean in this context?

19. Track 15, Whiskey – “Uncle Sam requires his pound of fiscal flesh.” This is a play on what line (from a Shakespearean play).

20. Track 15 – “swig in hell” What is this reference (from a poem by Kipling).

Further Research and Assignments

Write a paper following the rubric/conventions in your course on some topic related to Grant’s life or times. These could include:

– Crossing the Isthmus of Panama in the 19th Century
– The Battle of Shiloh
– The Vicksburg Campaign
– The Wilderness Campaign
– Sherman’s March to the Sea
Gone With the Wind
– Civil War Medicine (perhaps with emphasis on surgery during the Civil War – a fine source here is Bleeding Blue and Grey by Ira Rutkow).
– The Whiskey Fraud or other scandal during Grant’s Presidency.
– Reconstruction (you would probably have to focus within this broad topic).
– The relationship between Grant and Mark Twain, especially as Grant was writing his Memoirs (a fine source here is Grant and Twain by Mark Perry).
– In your opinion is “Hardscrabble” an appropriate title for a collection of songs about the life of Ulysses S .Grant? Justify your answer with details from Grant’s life.
– Assess the stereotypical treatment of Grant as soldier and President. Until relatively recently, he was not esteemed by most historians and professors of American history.

Or … write a song about the Civil War. Perform/present this song to the class and lead a discussion about it.

Note: The single, best, short (around 160 pages) study of Grant that I have read is Ulysses S. Grant by Josiah Bunting III (2004).