Marching Song of the First Arkansas (Negro) Regiment

TITLE: Marching Song of the First Arkansas (Negro) Regiment
AUTHOR: Words: Capt. Lindley Miller?
CATEGORY:
KEYWORDS: Civil War, battle, Black(s), slavery, freedom, soldier, derivative
EARLIEST PRINTED OR RECORDED REFERENCE: 1960 Songs of the Civil War (Irwin Silber) Dover Publications 1995, original 1960); also, a nineteenth century broadside is listed on p. 147 of Edwin Wolf 2nd, _American Song Sheets, Slip Ballads, and Political Broadsides 1850-1870_, Library Company of Philadelphia, 1963
HISTORICAL REFERENCES: Jan 1, 1863 – Effectiveness date of the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all slaves in the portions of the U.S. not then in Federal hands.

Marching Song of the First Arkansas (Negro) Regiment, or Marching Song of the First Arkansas Colored Regiment is one of the few Civil War-era songs inspired by the lyrical structure of The Battle Hymn of the Republic and the tune of John Brown’s Body that is still performed and recorded today. The “Marching Song” has been described as “a powerful early statement of black pride, militancy, and desire for full equality, revealing the aspirations of black soldiers for Reconstruction as well as anticipating the spirit of the civil rights movement of the 1960s.” The song’s lyrics are attributed to the regiment’s white officer, Captain Lindley Miller. (from Walls, “Marching Song,” Arkansas Historical Quarterly–Winter 2007). 

Captain Miller first mentions the “Marching Song” in a letter from Vicksburg to his mother in Morristown, dated January 20, 1864. Irwin Silber, editor of Sing Out! from 1951 to 1967, introduced the song to a mid-20th-century audience in his Songs of the Civil War, published in 1960 in conjunction with the Civil War Centennial observance from 1961 to 1965. Silber thought it likely that the song represented a collaboration between Miller and his troops. Silber edited the song to standard English and titled it “Marching Song of the First Arkansas (Negro) Regiment.” (wikipedia)

OTHER TITLES AND VARIATIONS:

  • Tune: John Brown’s Body, et. al.

RECORDINGS: (mp3’s available through Amazon.com)

YOUTUBE VIDEO:

YOUTUBE AUDIO: download
LYRIC & CHORD PRO CHART: download
PPT LYRICS FOR THE CLASSROOM: download
BONUS YOUTUBE VIDEO: Tennessee Ernie Ford

First Arkansas Marching Song

Oh, we’re the bully soliders of the “First of Arkansas,”
We are fighting for the Union, we are fighting for the law,
We can hit a Rebel further than a white man every saw,
As we go marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!  Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah! As we go marching on.

See, there above the center, where the flag is waving bright,
We are going out of slavery; we are bound for freedom’s light;
We mean to show Jeff Davis how the Africans can fight,
As we go marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!  Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah! As we go marching on.

We have done with hoeing cotton, we have done with hoeing corn,
We are colored Yankee soliders, now, as sure as you are born;
When the masters hear us yelling, they’ll think it’s Gabriel’s horn,
As we go marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!  Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah! As we go marching on.

They will have to pay us wages, the wages of their sin,
They will have to bow their foreheads to their colored kith and kin,
They will have to give us house-room, or the roof shall tumble in!
As we go marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!  Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah! As we go marching on.

They said, Now colored brethren, you shall be forever free,
From the first of January, eighteen hundred sixty-three.”
We heard it in the river going rushing to the sea,
As we go marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!  Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah! As we go marching on.

Father Abraham has spoken and the message has been sent,
To the prison doors he opened, and out the prisoners went,
To join the sable army of the “African descent,”
As we go marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!  Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah! As we go marching on.

Then fall in, colored brethren, you’d better do it soon,
Don’t you hear the drum a-beating the Yankee Doodle tune?
We are with you now this morning, we’ll be far away at noon,
As we go marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!  Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah! As we go marching on.

SOURCES:

SONGBOOKS:

NOTICE: I’m not the best guitar player or vocalist, but no one loves these songs more than I do. The tune and lyrics are in the public domain unless otherwise noted. The recording © copyright 2013 by Stephen Griffith and may be used by permission of the copyright holder. The variation of the song I’m posting is the version I perform and is not exactly replicating the sources cited, but is always in the same song family. If anyone has more details about this song, or believes I’ve stated something in error, please let me know. I’m also open to suggestions to improve the site. Thanks. sgg

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