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Songs of the War of 1812
Submitted by Donald Graves


The following are words to a number of songs Mr Graves has uncovered which are appropiate to the War of 1812 period.  A tune to some of the songs have yet to be uncovered.


The British Bayoneteers

Eyes right, my jolly field boys,
Who British bayonets bear,
To teach your foes to yield boys,
When British steel they dare!
Now fill the glass, for the toast of toasts
Shall be drunk with the cheer of cheers,
Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah, hurrah!
For the British bayoneteers.

Great guns have shot and shell, boys,
Dragoons have sabres bright.
The artillery fire's like hell, boys,
And the horse like devils fight.
But neither light nor heavy horse
Nor thundering cannoneers,
Can stem the tide of the foeman's pride,
Like the British bayoneteers!

The English arm is strong, boys,
The Irish arm is tough.
The Scotsman's blow the French well know,
Is struck by sterling stuff.
And when before the enemy
Their shining steel appears,
Goodbye! goodbye! how they run, how they run!
From the British bayoneteers!

(Tune: "The British Grenadiers")


General, Glorious, Great, Granny Born-dear

The war is commenc'd,
And the army condens'd
Devoid both of eating and fear
They look for the presence;
Of all soldiers, the essence,
Of glorious, great, granny Born-dear.

Some soldiers are freezing,
Some coughing, some sneezing,
Some laugh and cry out with a sneer,
He never will come, for
No one hates a drum more,
Than glorious, great, granny Born-dear.


The Tickler, Philadelphia, 8 January 1813


Why, Soldiers, Why?

Why, soldiers, why,
Should we be melancholy, boys?
Why, soldiers, why?
Whose business 'tis to die!
What, sighing? Fie!
Damn fear, drink on, be jolly boys!
'Tis he, you or I,
Cold, hot, wet or dry,
We're always bound to follow, boys,
And scorn to fly.

'Tis but in vain,
(I mean not to upbraid you, boys),
'Tis but in vain
For soldiers to complain.
Should next campaign
Send us to Him who made us, boys,
We're free from pain.
But should we remain,
A bottle and kind landlady
Cures all again.

Dates from 1729


The Girl I Left Behind Me

I'm lonesome since I crossed the hill,
And o'er the moor and valley,
Such grievous thoughts my heart do fill,
Since parting with my Sally.
I seek no more the fine or gay,
For each does but remind me,
How swift the hours did pass away,
With the girl I left behind me.

Oh, ne'er shall I forget the night
The stars were bright above me,
And gently lent their silvery light,
When first she vowed to love me.
But now I'm bound to Brighton Camp
Kind heaven, then, pray guide me,
And send me safely back again
To the girl I left behind me.

Dates from 1758


Lochaber No More

Farewell to Lochaber and farewell, my Jean,
Where heartsome with thee I have many days been.
For Lochaber no more, Lochaber no more,
We'll maybe return to Lochaber no more.
These tears that I shed they are all for my dear,
And nae for the dangers attending on war,
Though borne on rough seas to a far bloody shore,
Maybe to return to Lochaber no more.

Then glory, my Jean, maun plead my excuse,
Since honour commands me how can I refuse?
Without it I ne'er can have merit for thee,
And without thy favour I'd better not be.
I gae then, my lass, to win honour and fame,
And if should luck to come gloriously hame,
A heart I will bring thee with love running o'er,
And then I'll leave thee and Lochaber no more.


The sodger's return

When wild war's deadly blast was blawn,
And gentle peace returning,
Wi' many a sweet babe fatherless,
And many a widow mourning, --
I left the lines and tented field,
Where long I'd been a lodger,
My humble knapsack all my wealth,
A poor but honest sodger.

For gold the merchant ploughs the main,
The farmer ploughs the manor;
But glory is the sodger's prize;
The sodger's wealth is honour;
The poor brave sodger ne'er despise
Nor count him as a stranger;
Remember he's his country's stay
In day and hour of danger.


The Soldier Cut Down in His Prime

As I was a-walking down by the Lock Hospital
Dark was the morning and cold was the day,
When who should I spy but one of my comrades,
Draped in a blanket and cold as the clay.

Then beat the drums slowly and play the fifes lowly,
Sound the "Dead March" as you carry me along,
And fire your muskets right over my coffin,
For I'm a young soldier cut down in his prime.

Had she but told me when she did disorder me,
Had she but told me about it in time,
I might have got salts and pills of white mercury,
But now I'm cut down in the height of my prime.

Got six of my comrades to carry my coffin,
Six of my comrades to carry me on high,
And each of them carry a bunch of white roses,
So no-one may smell me as we pass them by.

On top of his tombstone these words they are written,
"All you young fellows take warning by me,
Keep away from them flash girls who walk in the city,
The girls of the city was the ruin of me."


Love Farewell

Hark! I hear the Colonel crying,
"March, brave boys, there's no denying,
Colours flying, drums are bayting,
March, brave boys, there's no retrayting!"
Love, farewell!

The Major cries, "Boys, are yez ready?"
"Yes, your honour, firm and steady;
Give every man his flask of powdher,
And his firelock on his shouldher!"
Love, farewell!

The mother crys, "Boys, do not wrong me,
Do not take my daughters from me!
If you do, I will tormint yez!
After death my ghost will haunt yez!"
Love, farewell!

Oh, Molly, dear, you're young and tinder,
And when I'm away, you won't surrinder,
But howld out like an auncient Roman,
And I'll make you an honest woman.
Love, farewell!

Oh, Molly, darling, grieve no more,
I'm going to fight for Ireland's glory;
If I come back, I'll come victorious;
If I die, my sowl in glory is!
Love, farewell!


Lower Canada Militia Song

Le matin, des le point du jour,
On entend ce maudit tambour,
Maudit tambour et maudit exercice,
Toi, pauvr' soldat, tu en as d'la fatigue.

Ils nous font mettre dans les rangs,
Les officiers et les sergents,
L'un dit: recule et l'autre dit: avance!
Toi, pauvr' soldat, t'en faut de la patience.

Nos sergents et nos officiers
Sont bien traites dan leurs quartiers,
Nos capitain' boiv' le vin et la biere
Toi, pauvr' soldat, va boire a la riviere.

Qu'en a compose la chanson
C'est un tambour du bataillon
C'est un tambour en battant sa retraite
Toujours regrettant sa joli' maitresse.



A landlady of France,
She loved an officer, 'tis said,
And this officer he dearly loved her brandy, O!
Sighed she, "I love this officer,
Although his nose is red,
And his legs are what his regiment call bandy, O!"

But when the bandy officer
Was ordered to the coast,
How she tore her lovely locks that looked so sandy, O!
"Adieu, my soul," says she,
"If you write, pray pay the post,
But before we part, let's take a drop of brandy, O!"

She filled him out a bumper
Just before he left the town,
And another for herself, so neat and handy, O!
So they kept their spirits up
By pouring spirits down,
For love is like the colic -- cured by brandy, O!


Song of the Canadian Voltigeurs

Nous avons un Major
Qui a le diable au corps
Il nous caus'ra la mort
I g'nia ni diab, ni tigre
Qui soit si rustique
Sous la rondeur du ciel
I g'nia pas son pareil.

We have a major
Who has the devil in him
He'll be the death of us
There's no devil, nor tiger
As hardy as this one;
Not under the sun
There's not one like this one.

The "General"

"Don't you hear your General say,
Strike your tents and march away, way, way!
Way, boys, way!
Strike your tents, and march away!"


Rogue's March

Fifty I got for selling me coat,
Fifty for selling me blanket.
If ever I 'lists for a soldier again,
The Divil shall be me sergeant
Poor old sodger, poor old sodger

Twice tried for selling me coat,
Three times tried for desertion.
If ever I be a sodjer again,
May the Divil promote me sergeant.
Poor old sodger, poor old sodger


Yankee Doodle

Father and I went down to camp,
Along with Captain Gooding,
There we see the men and boys,
As thick as hasty pudding.

Yankee doodle, keep it up,
Yankee doodle, dandy;
Mind the music and the step,
And with the girls be handy.

And there we see a thousand men,
As rich as "Squire David",
And what they wasted every day,
I wish it could be saved.

Yankee doodle, etc.

And there we see a swamping gun,
Large as a log of maple,
Upon a deuced little cart,
A load for father's cattle.

Yankee doodle, etc.

And every time they shoot it off,
It takes a horn of powder;
It makes a noise like father's gun,
Only a nation louder.

Yankee doodle, etc.


The New Deserter

The first time I deserted I thought myself free
Informed on by my comrades a deserter to be,
I was soon followed after and brought back with speed,
I was handcuffed and shackel'd, heavy ironed indeed.

A court-martial, a court-martial, a court-martial was then,
And the sentence they gave me was a hundred and ten;
From thence to the guard-house on a straw bed did lie,
From thence to the halberds the very next day.

The next time I deserted I thought myself free
Informed on by my sweetheart a deserter to be,
I was soon followed after and brought back with speed,
I was handcuffed and shackel'd, heavy ironed indeed.

A court-martial, a court-martial, a court-martial then sat,
And the sentence they gave me it was to be shot,
Up drives then our Duke of York in his coach and six
Saying show me that young man in the halberds is fix'd.

He put his hand in his pocket and pulled out ten pounds,
Saying, take they my young man and go your way home;
Saying, take this my young man, and good bye unto thee,
For no more the King's duty lies heavy on thee.

(Broadsheet, c. 1800)


O'er The Hills and far away

Hark, now the drums beat up again,
For all true soldier gentlemen,
Then let us 'list and march, I say,
Over the hills and far away.

Over the hills and o'er the main,
To Flanders, Portugal and Spain
King George commands and we'll obey,
Over the hills and far away.

All gentlemen that have a mind,
To serve the King who's good and kind
Come 'list and enter into pay,
Then o'er the hills and far away.

Over the hills and o'er the main ...

Over rivers, bogs and springs,
We all shall live as great as kings,
And plunder get both night and day
When over the hills and far away.

Over the hills and o'er the main ...

We then shall lead more happy lives,
By getting rid of brats and wives,
That scold on, both night and day,
When o'er the hills and far away.

Over the hills and o'er the main ...

George Farquhar, "The Recruiting Officer," 1706


 The Bold Canadian

Come all ye bold Canadians,
I'd have you lend an ear
Unto a short ditty
Which will your spirits cheer,
Concerning an engagement
We had at Detroit town,
The pride of those Yankee boys
So bravely we took down.

The Yankees did invade us,
To kill and to destroy,
And to distress our country,
Our peace for to annoy,
Our countrymen were filled
With sorrow, grief and woe,
To think that they should fall
By such an unnatural foe.

Come all ye bold Canadians,
Enlisted in the cause,
To defend your country,
And to maintain your laws;
Being all united,
This is the song we'll sing:
Success onto Great Britain
And God save the King.

Trad., current to 1812-1813.


Canadian Boat Song

Tom Moore, 1805

Faintly as tolls the evening chime
Our voices keep tune, and our oars keep time:
Soon as the woods on shore look dim,
We'll sing at St. Ann's our parting hymn.
Row, brothers, row, the stream runs fast,
The rapids are near and the day-light's past.

Why should we yet our sail unfurl?
There is not a breath the blue wave to curl!
But, when the wind blows off the shore,
Oh! sweetly we'll rest on our weary oar,
Blow, breezes, blow, the stream runs fast,
The rapids are near and the day-light's past!

Utawa's tide! this trembling moon,
Shall see us float over thy surges soon:
Saint of this green isle! hear our prayers,
Oh! grant us cool heaven and favoring airs.
Blow, breezes, blow, the stream runs fast,
The rapids are near and the day-light's past!

Copyright Access Heritage Inc (formerly The Discriminating General) 1998


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