Rifle Boys, The
DESCRIPTION: A girl loves one of Lord Hopkin's grenadiers. Her mother asks how she will get by on so little pay. The girl is not deterred. Her mother would confine her. The drum major leads the grenadiers out of town, breaking every girl's heart
EARLIEST DATE: before 1855 (broadside, Bodleian Harding B 15(257b))
KEYWORDS: courting parting army clothes Scotland mother soldier
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland(Aber))
REFERENCES (1 citation):
GreigDuncan1 89, "The Hopkin Boys" (7 texts, 6 tunes)
Bodleian, Harding B 15(257b), "Rifle Boys" ("The rout has come this afternoon, that we must march to-morrow"), E.M.A. Hodges (London), 1846-1854; also Firth c.14(191), Firth c.14(192), Firth c.14(193), Harding B 11(1940), Harding B 15(257a), Harding B 15(258a), Harding B 11(3861), "[The] Rifle Boys"
The Grenadiers are Marching
NOTES: GreigDuncan1: "The 'Hopkin' or 'Hopetoun' version of this song applies to the Hopetoun Fencibles (1793-8) who wore red coats with light grey-blue facings." In the texts, the uniform seems to be the main attraction. - BS
Though this raises a complication in the mention of rifles. It is no great surprise that the girls would be attracted to the grenadiers over other soldiers; grenadiers were specially selected, and were generally taller, stronger, and healthier than ordinary soldiers. But -- they didn't carry rifles!
Until the invention of the Minie bullet, and the adoption of rifle muskets which used it in the 1850s, almost all infantrymen used smoothbore muskets. There were a few riflemen associated with each army, but they were few -- it took about two minutes to load, aim, and fire a muzzle-loading rifle, meaning that a smoothbore could fire about five times as fast. So riflemen were specialists, and rare. - RBW
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