Maine has a state ballad?

Minnesota doesn’t seem to have one, and now Maine has gone and set the bar high with Ballad of the 20th Maine.

Some of the Republican snowflakes in that state are unhappy, though.

“I am a lover of history and especially a lover of the civil war period and regardless of what side people fought on, they were fighting for something they truly believed in,” Reed said, according to the Beacon. “Many of them were great Christian men on both sides. They fought hard and they were fighting for states’ rights as they saw them.”

Correction: slavery. They were fighting for slavery. Also, as the song say, “Go straight to hell with your rebel yell, we are the boys of Maine!”

You know, it seems to me you could make the same argument that the Nazis were Christians who were fighting for something they truly believed in.


  1. says

    Great Ballad! I’d add one footnote to these comments. The 20th of Maine was not just one regiment of many in the War. They were the heroes of Gettysburg in holding off repeated Southern charges at Little Round Top during the battle. And they were led (pay attention, PZ!) by an academic – Col. Joshua Reynolds Chamberlain, who took a leave of absence from Bowdoin College to enlist in the Union Army. His heroism, and the bayonet charge that he led, saved the Union during the second day at Gettysburg, and may have turned the tide of the War.

  2. mnb0 says

    Meh. The nazi argument is boring. Try Ustasha next time. They managed to shock those nazis …..

  3. Mobius says


    When people try that “states’ rights” BS with me I respond, “Yes, but the one states’ right they were mainly concerned about was slavery.”

    The stand the 20th Maine put up at Little Roundtop, part of the Battle of Gettysburg, was truly amazing. Chamberlain, mention in the ballad, was a very interesting character. He received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions in that battle. He is, perhaps, my favorite from the Civil War. An amazing man.

  4. Mobius says

    @2 kenmiller

    Saying it turned the tide of the war is a bit much, but it certainly put and end to Lee’s attempt to flank the Union army. If the Confederates had taken Little Round Top, it would have certainly put the Army of the Potomac in a weaker position.

  5. lochaber says

    what is it with this “something they believed in” bullshit?

    If you are doing something evil, how does “believing it” make it any better?

    Wouldn’t this train of thought rank an accidental death as a worse crime than premeditated murder?

  6. unclefrogy says

    states rights is a very irritating argument that has never been used for anything other than tyranny with environmental regulations excepted.
    uncle frogy

  7. brucegee1962 says

    Eh, I think they would have done better if they’d said “Let’s have a ballad celebrating peace, instead of one that celebrates war.”

    I grew up in the north and have as much Yankee pride as anyone, but I live in the South now and have to deal with neo-Confederate yahoo students on a regular basis. I’d say their glorification of their lost cause is only about 40% racism — the other 60% is pure tribalism. If we feed the latter with official adoption of ballads like this (which can be translated as “You lost, losers!”), we’re likely to feed the former as well.

    The message I try to send to these students is “The war is ancient history. We’re all one country now, so let’s put all that behind us and concentrate on today’s problems.” I think that message is more likely to effect positive change than “Your great-grandpappy was a losing loser, and so are you!” which songs like this convey.

  8. Hoosier X says


    Yeah. The free states thought that states rights applied to free state too. The Fugitive Slave Act and the Dred Scott decision showed that South the very blatantly didn’t give a crap about states rights except when it could be invoked in their favor. Reminds me of every GOP argument since … Reagan? Nixon? Coolidge?

  9. Saganite, a haunter of demons says

    It’s offensive to suggest their enemies were better than the fucking slavers in the South? What. The Repubes truly are unredeemable. I’d expect Repubes from the South to make that argument – at least they actually live there and may have some local pride – but for Northern politicians to make this point is even more messed up.

  10. DanDare says

    “Something they believed in”. Isn’t that the core problem of our times? We give undu deference to religious believers because of that sentiment. How about more emphasis on well reasoned beliefs?

  11. mountainbob says

    We, on the other hand, have an Official State Question: “Do you want red or green with that?” Refers to our famous chili, and the question is asked at almost every restaurant if the patron doesn’t specify; the assumption is that – of course – you’ll want chili, but which type?

  12. OptimalCynic says

    Are these the same Republicans that say “Well R’s can’t be racist because Lincoln freed the slaves”?

  13. ridana says

    I think I’m with brucegee1962 on this one. Why does a state song or ballad have to be about war anyway, let alone the Civil War?

    But of course, that was not the argument they chose to go with.

  14. microraptor says

    I personally favor countering the “states’ rights” nonsense by pointing out how much fewer rights states had under the Confederate constitution than under the Union.

  15. birgerjohansson says

    This link is OT but it is another example of people responding by reflex arguments instead of thought. Sorta like the “states rights” thing…

    “The GOP Tweeted That Elizabeth Warren Will “Raise Taxes to Increase the Minimum Wage.” See What’s Wrong There?”
    Jeez, this is dumb. ( Next: “Black people had full employment under Confederacy” )

  16. chrislawson says

    Funny how the “party of Lincoln” is upset at the people who fought for him.

  17. Larry says

    Its also important not to forget that, in addition to the south’s fight to maintain ownership of human beings, the entire south were traitors to the United States. They should have been considered such at the end of the war and dealt with appropriately. Sherman’s tactics should have been employed in the other states, as well.

  18. archangelospumoni says

    Ken Miller (post #2)
    Joshua LAWRENCE Chamberlain. But otherwise, thanks for the mention.
    I used to watch that Ted Turner Gettysburg movie each time, then call my Dad to let him know the South still got their a** kicked. We always agreed this was a fine result.
    (Other than David Brin’s stages of the Civil War, which we are still in, but that is a different story.

  19. monad says

    The south actually had restricted states’ rights, notably that they weren’t allowed to reject slavery. But you have to give them this much: when they lost, they apparently realized that fighting for slavery would make them look like disgusting villains for the rest of time, unless they could lean hard into promoting a cover story. And they did a really good job on that, since it’s still foolishly repeated to this day.

  20. PaulBC says

    I grew up in Pennsylvania in the 1970s, and the whole “two sides fighting an honorable battle” just throws me for a loop. Of course, I was always taught that it was about slavery. I was a snotty kid and a little cynical about the true motivations of the North, but the fact that it was the war that ended slavery in the US was the salient point.

    Why in the 21st century are we suddenly hearing all this BS about the “honorable” General Lee? I guess they have been spouting it in the South all along and I wasn’t there to know. Another big shock for me was finding a big honking double equestrian monument to Lee and Stonewall Jackson in Baltimore, MD, where I lived for six years. That has thankfully been removed, but honestly what it is with people? It seems like if anything the side of fake history is winning.

  21. blf says

    For people who are unsure about Paul LePage (see Nemo@25), below are excerpts of his entry at the Encyclopedia of American Loons (#872 from 2014):

    Paul LePage is the Republican governor of Maine since 2011 [until this year (2019)! –blf], and quite clearly not entirely well hinged. He is, perhaps, most famous for a somewhat shady past and his behavior toward journalists who attempt to inquire into some of the more legally questionable parts of his past, and for his attempts to remove the ban on Bisphenol A, dismissing its health risks by claiming, without support, that there hasn’t been any science that identifies that there is a problem, and adding: The only thing that I’ve heard is if you take a plastic bottle and put it in the microwave and you heat it up, it gives off a chemical similar to estrogen. So the worst case is some women may have little beards … and we don’t want that. Of course, dismissals of e.g. environmental concerns on the grounds of not having the faintest clue about what he is talking about are staple fare for LePage. Blasting global warming as a scam, LePage has promised to lay waste to the state’s environmental regulations in general — though the fact that he made a fool of himself nationally in the Bisphenol A case has made him quiet down a little.

    It was, for instance, LePage’s tea party supporters who changed the Maine Republican party platform to include calls to discard political correctness, investigate collusion between government and industry in the global warming myth (the mind boggles), repeal and prohibit participation in any effort to establish a one world government, and return to Austrian-style economics. To underscore his commitment to wingnuttery one of the first things LePage announced as governor was a decision to rename conference halls previously named after central labor rights persons and artwork depicting them in anything but a negative light.

    [… and so on…] Another batshit fundie denialist who has been given a position of power. Sad, scary, and completely unsurprising.