Back When Artillery Was Pulled By Horses

Back when field artillery was pulled by horses this was the song they sang in the US Army: The US Field Artillery March. Written by John Phillip Sousa, this Edison Diamond Disc Record was recorded sometime in April 1918 by the New York Military Band (which largely contained members of Sousa’s Band). I forget who wrote the lyrics to the march but for some odd reason Morton Gould rings a bell.

Today, one rarely hears the entire piece of music. The lyrics are almost never heard anymore.

The US Field Artillery Song

Over hill, over dale,
We have hit the dusty trail,
And those Caissons Go Rolling Along
Counter march! Right about!
Hear those wagon soldiers shout
While those Caissons Go Rolling Along

Chorus:

For it’s “Hi! Hi! Hee!
In the Field Artillery
Call off your numbers loud and strong
And where e’er we go
You will always know
That those Caissons Are Rolling Along

To the front, day and night
Where the doughboys dig and fight
And those Caissons Go Rolling Along
Our barrage will be there
Fired on the rocket’s flare
While those Caissons Go Rolling Along – Chorus

With the cavalry, boot to boot
We will join in the pursuit
And those Caissons Go Rolling Along
Action front, at a trot
Volley fire with shell and shot
While those Caissons Go Rolling Along – Chorus

Should the foe penetrate
Ev’ry gunner lies in wait
And those Caissons Go Rolling Along
Fire at will, lay ‘em low
Never stop for any foe
While those Caissons Go Rolling Along – Chorus

But if fate me should call
And in action I should fall
Keep those Caissons a rolling Along
Then in peace I’ll abide
When I take my final ride
On a Caisson that’s Rolling Along – Chorus

After last Chorus, “Batt’ry Halt!” is called out.

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3 Responses to Back When Artillery Was Pulled By Horses

  1. James says:

    Actually, I always thought the lyrics to the U.S. Military version of this song was written by Major Edmund L. Gruber around 1907….A classic if there ever was one.

    • Dan Gilmore says:

      You are correct. There was apparently a ‘newer’ version of the lyrics written by Gould but no one ever uses them.

  2. Roger Hanington says:

    Snarleyow

    This ‘appened in a battle to a batt’ry of the corps
    Which is first among the women an’ amazin’ first in war;
    An’ what the bloomin’ battle was I don’t remember now,
    But Two’s off-lead ‘e answered to the name o’ Snarleyow.
    Down in the Infantry, nobody cares;
    Down in the Cavalry, Colonel ‘e swears;
    But down in the lead with the wheel at the flog
    Turns the bold Bombardier to a little whipped dog!

    They was movin’ into action, they was needed very sore,
    To learn a little schoolin’ to a native army corps,
    They ‘ad nipped against an uphill, they was tuckin’ down the brow,
    When a tricky, trundlin’ roundshot give the knock to Snarleyow.

    They cut ‘im loose an’ left ‘im — ‘e was almost tore in two —
    But he tried to follow after as a well-trained ‘orse should do;
    ‘E went an’ fouled the limber, an’ the Driver’s Brother squeals:
    “Pull up, pull up for Snarleyow — ‘is head’s between ‘is ‘eels!”

    The Driver ‘umped ‘is shoulder, for the wheels was goin’ round,
    An’ there ain’t no “Stop, conductor!” when a batt’ry’s changin’ ground;
    Sez ‘e: “I broke the beggar in, an’ very sad I feels,
    But I couldn’t pull up, not for you — your ‘ead between your ‘eels!”

    ‘E ‘adn’t ‘ardly spoke the word, before a droppin’ shell
    A little right the batt’ry an’ between the sections fell;
    An’ when the smoke ‘ad cleared away, before the limber wheels,
    There lay the Driver’s Brother with ‘is ‘ead between ‘is ‘eels.

    Then sez the Driver’s Brother, an’ ‘is words was very plain,
    “For Gawd’s own sake get over me, an’ put me out o’ pain.”
    They saw ‘is wounds was mortial, an’ they judged that it was best,
    So they took an’ drove the limber straight across ‘is back an’ chest.

    The Driver ‘e give nothin’ ‘cept a little coughin’ grunt,
    But ‘e swung ‘is ‘orses ‘andsome when it came to “Action Front!”
    An’ if one wheel was juicy, you may lay your Monday head
    ‘Twas juicier for the niggers when the case begun to spread.

    The moril of this story, it is plainly to be seen:
    You ‘avn’t got no families when servin’ of the Queen —
    You ‘avn’t got no brothers, fathers, sisters, wives, or sons —
    If you want to win your battles take an’ work your bloomin’ guns!
    Down in the Infantry, nobody cares;
    Down in the Cavalry, Colonel ‘e swears;
    But down in the lead with the wheel at the flog
    Turns the bold Bombardier to a little whipped dog!

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