Malvina Reynolds: Song Lyrics and Poems  

The Battle of Maxton Field

Notes: words and music by Malvina Reynolds; copyright 1958 Schroder Music Company, renewed 1986. In the Notes to her songbook Little Boxes and Other Handmade Songs Malvina writes: "In the town of Maxton, N. C., in March 1958, the Ku Klux Klan planned a rally to take down the Lumbee Indians of the area who seemed to think they had some rights--they had their own mayor of their own town, and lived on good terms with the people thereabouts."

Now brave the Klansmen rallied there
In Maxton town that night,
All armed with knives and pistol guns
And honin' for a fight.
Oh, rally round, you Klansmen bold,
But do not show your face.
We'll burn the fiery cross tonight
And save the Nordic race.

Oh the Klan,
Oh the Klan,
It calls on ev'ry red blood fighting man
Who is free and white and bigot,
Gets his courage from a spigot,
And protects his racial purity the very best he can.

The Indians, the Indians,
They are our natural foe,
They lure our girls with coke and pie
And take them to the show,
They wear blue jeans and leather coats,
But anyone can see,
They are not real Americans
The like of you and me.

The heroes left their stores and plows,
Their pool-halls and their bars,
And in their gallant hooded shirts
They drove up in their cars,
For in this grave emergency
That mustered every soul,
Who should appear to lead the fight
But Wizard Jimmy Kole!

Now as the cars were drawing in
An ominous sound was heard.
Was that an Indian battle cry
Or just a gooney bird?
Is that a gooney bird I see
Or grandpa's fighting cock,
Or is it a Lumbee war bonnet
That comes from Chimney Rock?


The headlights shone, the Klansmen stood
In circle brave and fine,
When suddenly a whoop was heard
That curdled every spine,
An Indian youth with steely eyes,
Sauntered in alone,
He calmly drew his shootin' iron
And conked the microphone.

Another shot, the lights went out,
There was a moment's hush,
Then a hundred thousand Lumbee boys
Came screaming from the brush.
Well, maybe not a million quite,
But surely more than four,
And the Klansmen shook from head to foot
And headed for the door.

The Lumbee Indians whooped and howled
In the ancient Lumbee way,
And the Klansmen melted off the ground
Like snow on a sunny day.
Our histories will long record
That perilous advance,
When many a Klansman left the field
With buckshot in his pants.


The coppers listened from afar,
They did not lift a gun.
They heard the noise, they said, "The boys
Are having a little fun."
But when they saw the nightshirt lads
Trooping down the road,
They knew that something went amiss,
The wrong switch had been throwed.

When the coppers reached the battlefield,
They saw no single soul;
In Pembroke town, the Indians
Were hanging Jimmy Kole.
Not James himself, for he had fled
With his shirt-tail waving free,
But all the joyful Lumbee boys,
They hanged his effigy.

Final Chorus:
Oh the Klan,
Oh the Klan,
They've hung their little nightshirts in the can,1
If you want to see them run,
Shoot a pistol toward the sun,
And give an Indian warwhoop like a joyful Lumbee man.

Malvina Reynolds songbook(s) in which the music to this song appears:
---- Little Boxes and Other Handmade Songs
---- The Malvina Reynolds Songbook

Other place(s) where the music to this song appears:
---- Sing Out!, Volume 8(1) (1958), pp. 4-5

Malvina Reynolds recording(s) on which this song is performed:
---- Malvina Reynolds Sings the Truth
---- Malvina Reynolds...Sings the Truth (2008)
---- listen to video

Recordings by other artists on which this song is performed:
---- Pete Seeger: Gazette, Vol. 1 (Folkways FN 2501, 1958)
---- Pete Seeger: Hootenanny at Carnegie Hall (Folkways FN 2512, 1960)
---- Pete Seeger: Headlines & Footnotes (Smithsonian Folkways SFW CD 40111, 1999)

Additional note
1. Alternate line: "Their bedsheet ended up where it began,"

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This page copyright 2006 by Charles H. Smith and Nancy Schimmel. All rights reserved.

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