Scots Soldiers True
DESCRIPTION: "Scots soldiers true, with bonnets blue ... made the French to run" at Waterloo. Bonaparte had been "haunted" by the Scots Greys in Spain and at Waterloo. Now Napoleon is dead and "Louise-Philippe and Britain's Queen Oft have an interview"
EARLIEST DATE: 1906 (GreigDuncan1)
KEYWORDS: battle France Spain Napoleon
June 18, 1815 - Battle of Waterloo
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland(Aber))
REFERENCES (1 citation):
GreigDuncan1 154, "The Battle of Waterloo" (1 fragment, 1 tune)
Bodleian, Firth c.14(284), "Scots Soldiers True" ("Scots soldiers true, with bonnets blue"), Sanderson (Edinburgh), 1830-1910
cf. "Our Brave Scotch Lads" (shares first verse lines)
NOTES [279 words]: GreigDuncan1 is a fragment; broadside Bodleian Firth c.14(284) is the basis for the description. - BS
The reference to the Highlanders and Scots Greys at Waterloo is accurate; David Chandler, The Campaigns of Napoleon, (Macmillan, 1966), notes that the Scots Greys were in Wellington's army. They were among the forces who opposed the first French attack, launched by d'Erlon's corps.
I find myself wondering what is the purpose of this song, for it cannot have been written in the period immediately after Waterloo. After Napoleon's abdication, France was ruled by the restored Bourbons, first Louis XVIII (1814-1815 and 1815-1824) and then Charles X (1824-1830). Only after Charles X's abdication did Louis-Phillippe of the House of Orleans ascend the throne, reigning 1830-1848, when revolution forced him to abbicate also (clearing the way for Napoleon III). The presumption, then, is that the Queen of the song is Victoria (reigned 1837-1901). So the song in its broadside form must date from the period 1837-1848.
The charge of the Scots Greys at Waterloo was long remembered, however. In addition to this poem, there is a famous painting, "Scotland for Ever," about the event. It was painted by Lady Butler in 1881. John Keegan, The Face of Battle Viking Press, 1976 (I use the 1993 Barnes & Noble edition) includes a reproduction after p. 178, and notes that Lady Butler, whose husband was a general, actually convinced her husband to stage a cavalry charge at her so she could paint it accurately -- but Keegan says the painting is inaccurate even so. But, of course, what matters is that Lady Butler still found the event inspiring 66 years after Waterloo. - RBW
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