This song is a story about two real people who lived and fought in the Civil War. Sammy Watkins and Walter Hood were in the Maury Gray's regiment out of Nashville, Tennessee. They'd been sent to Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia to protect Atlanta from Sherman. Well, it was early in the morning, Sammy turned to Walter and he said,
"There's a rumor going around. If you hear a whippoorwill singing on the day of the battle, it means you're going to die. Why, I've even heard that a whippoorwill can fly down on the battlefield and take a wounded man's soul away."
Walter looked at Sammy and he said, "Good gosh man! Tell me that ain't true 'cause listen"
... in the clear morning Georgia air, you could hear a whippoorwill singing loud and clear. Sammy and Walter they looked at each other and they looked back down Kennesaw Mountain to the north, and all they could see, as far as their eyes could see, was Sherman's army a coming up at 'em!