Home » Strike the Tent! – Song Notes

Strike the Tent! – Song Notes


Old Joe ~ This song was composed by the bones player of the original “Virginia Minstrels,” Frank Brower. It was published in Boston in 1844 by C. H. Keith and became a minstrel standard for decades.

The Gum Tree Canoe ~ The lyrics were penned by Silas S. Steele and the music was composed by Anthony F. Winnemore. It was published in 1847 by George F. Reed of Boston. Silas Steele was a popular performer and song writer for over twenty five years. Some of his more popular tunes include Rose of Alabama, Dandy Jim of Caroline, Walk Jaw Bone and Kiss Me Quick and Go.

My Darling Nelly Gray ~ Benjamin Russell Hanby composed both the words and music to this song. It was published in 1856 by Oliver Ditson of Boston, MA. and became a national best seller. Hanby only received twelve free copies of the sheet music and $50.00 for the ballad. When he inquired about additional compensation Oliver Ditson told him, “We have received the money and you the fame. That balances the account.”

Flowers of Edinburgh/Welcome Here Again ~ James Oswald composed this melody and published it in his 1742 Curious Collection of Scots Tunes. In 1839 George P. Knauff compiled thirty-five southeastern Virginia fiddle tunes and had them published by George Willig Jr. of Baltimore. This collection entitled, “Virginia Reels” is the earliest known printed example of southern fiddle music. Included in Volume II is Flowers of Edinburgh under the title Old Virginia. Welcome Here Again is included in Thompson’s Complete Collection of 200 Favorite Country Dances, Vol. 3 (London 1773), under the title You Be Welcome Here Again. It was popular with American fifers during the Revolutionary War and was included in John Greenwood’s 1785 manuscript as Welcome Here Again.

Old Dog Tray ~ Stephen Foster’s song about his own handsome setter dog was premiered by the Christy’s Minstrels. Published in New York by Firth, Pond & Co. in 1853, it went on to become one of Foster’s most financially successful hits.

Ashokan Farewell ~ Jay Ungar composed this melody in 1982 and it was featured in the 1990 Ken Burns’ television miniseries, The Civil War.

Reveille ~ This is a French word that means wake up. When sounded it is a summons the soldiers to the day’s duties.

The Dissolution Wagon ~ First published in 1862 as The Southern Wagon by Joseph Bloch of Mobile, Alabama. The lyricist was not credited and the tune was borrowed from the popular 1850 song, Wait For The Wagon.

Riding A Raid ~ J. W. Randolph published this song in Richmond in 1863. The composer was not credited. The melody is from the Scottish tune Bonnie Dundee. The song chronicles General J.E.B. Stuart’s 1862 screening movement during the Sharpsburg/Antietam Campaign.

My Lodgings On The Cold, Cold Ground ~ This song was originally written by Matthew Locke in 1665. The first publication was in a London songbook in 1775. Thomas Moore rewrote the lyrics and published it in 1808 under the title Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms. Thomas Moore’s works are better known in America today than in the mid-nineteenth century. Therefore, we have listed the tune as the soldiers would have known it.

Stonewall Jackson’s Way / The Bonnie Blue Flag ~ Published in 1863 by J.W. Randolph in Richmond, VA.

The sheet music deliberately misdirected the identity of the writer as an anonymous sergeant of the Stonewall Brigade. This was done to prevent the true composer, John W. Palmer, a reporter for the New York Tribune from being arrested as a Southern sympathizer. The Bonnie Blue Flag was published in 1861 by A.E. Blackmar & Bro. of New Orleans. Harry Macarthy wrote the lyrics and adapted the music from the tune, The Irish Jaunting Car, by Valentine Vousden.

College Hornpipe / Rakes of Mallow ~ One of the earliest printings of this tune appears in Jonathan Fentum’s Compleat Tutor for the German Flute published in London in 1766. This melody became known as the Sailors’

Hornpipe through its association with American dancer, John Durang. As a popular stage performer, he toured the country in nautical costume as “Jack Tar” and danced the hornpipe. The earliest appearance of Rakes of Mallow is in Walsh’s Caledonian Country Dances published in London, 1733. A “rake” is an antiquated word describing someone who is so debauched that they are destined to rake the coals of Hell. Mallow is a town located near Cork, Ireland. In 1724 a warm spring was discovered there and a spa was built. Mallow became a major resort between 1730 and 1810 attracting visitors from throughout Ireland and England. The lyrics to this ballad sing the exploits of certain youthful and fashionable, but immoral male visitors.

German Waltz ~ This catchy tune was written by David Mansfield for the 1980 movie Heaven’s Gate. Unfortunately, the movie was not a success but the musical score is wonderful and this tune, known as Heaven’s Gate Waltz is one of our favorite waltzes.

I Goes to Fight Mit Sigel ~ The lyrics were written by John F. Poole and sung to the tune The Girl I Left Behind Me. The song was published by J. H. Johnson of Philadelphia 1861. General Franz Sigel was a military refugee from the unsuccessful German revolution of 1848. He appreciated his new country and became a focal point for German-American support of the union. He commanded the 2nd Missouri Brigade at the Battle of Pea Ridge and went to the eastern theater of war with General John Pope.

Spanish Waltz ~ The tune dates from the 1820’s. We were first introduced to this four part waltz by our late dance master, Patri Pugliese. The first two parts were published in 1859, in Howe’s Drawing Room Dances, under the title Spanish Dance. The remaining parts were published in 1851 in Howe’s School for Violin as the Cinderella Waltz.

Maryland, My Maryland/Carry Me Back To Old Virginia ~ Early in the war Maryland, My Maryland was a very popular Southern song. The words were written by James R. Randall and set to the tune, O Tannenbaum. A.E. Blackmar of New Orleans, LA, published the song in 1861. During the 1862 Antietam Campaign, General Robert E. Lee had the Army of Northern Virginia’s bands play this tune as the army crossed the Potomac River and entered Maryland. Carry Me Back to Old Virginia, aka De Floating Scow of Old Virginia, was composed by Charles White and published in Philadelphia in 1847, by Lee & Walker. After the Battle of Sharpsburg/Antietam, General Samuel McGowan’s brigade of South Carolinians acted as the Confederate rear guard. As they re-crossed the Potomac River back into Virginia the soldiers sang Carry Me Back to Old Virginia.

Wearing of the Grey ~ The sheet music was published by A.E. Blackmar of New Orleans in 1865. The lyrics were credited to Georgius but the musical composer was not mentioned. The melody is identical to the old Irish air, The Wearing of the Green, a song lamenting the persecution after the 1798 Irish Rebellion. A poem, Wearing of the Grey, was also published in 1865 with O.K.P. listed as the author.

Home Sweet Home ~ This song comes from the opera, Clari or The Maid of Milan, which opened in London on May 8, 1823. The music was composed by Henry Bishop and the lyrics by John Howard Payne. On the eve of the Battle of Murfreesboro/Stones River, the Federal and Confederate bands serenaded the troops. Each band strove to outdo the other. As remembered by Sam Seay of the 1st Tenn.: “Finally one of them struck up Home Sweet Home. As if by common consent all other airs ceased, and the bands of both armies, as far as the ear could reach, joined in the refrain.” The soldiers of both sides lifted their voices and joined the bands. Some began to shed a tear as their thoughts turned to home. In a similar situation, a few weeks after the Battle of Fredericksburg, as the combatants encamped on opposite banks of the Rappahannock River, both Union and Confederate military bands took turns serenading the armies. The impromptu concert ended when a Federal band struck up Home Sweet Home and thousands of Northerners and Southerners pondered if they would see their homes again. When the Federal band ended a Confederate band repeated the tune. Then one regimental band after the other in both armies joined in. Some soldiers began to sing the lyrics. Leander Cogswell of the 11th New Hampshire wrote, “As the sweet sounds arose and fell on the evening air all listened intently, and I do not believe there was a dry eye in all those assembled thousands.” Confederate Joseph Brown pondered how “Men who faced each other but a few weeks ago in one of the bloodiest battles of the world could unite on a mere suggestion of a song.”

Strike the Tent aka The General ~ This tune is a traditional military call to break camp and assemble. It dates back to the mid-1700’s and was included in David Rutherford’s 1756 “Complete Tutor For the Fife.” It has been said that General Robert E. Lee’s last words were “Strike the tent!” This military term means it is time to take down your tent, break camp and move on.

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