Riel Sits In His Chamber o' State (The Marching Song; Capture of For Garry, or Riel's Retreat)

DESCRIPTION: "Riel sits in his chamber o' state, Wi' his stolen silver forks an' his stolen silver plate.... O hey RIel, are ye waking yet... For we'll take the fort this morning." Riel is defeated and embarrassed; the victors insult him and his failure
AUTHOR: Words: Alexander Hunter Murray
EARLIEST DATE: 1959 (MacLeod; reportedly written 1870)
KEYWORDS: derivative soldier prisoner Canada
HISTORICAL REFERENCES:
Nov. 2, 1869 - Louis Riel's men seize Upper Fort Garry, taking many prisoners. This song was written to be sung by a militia which hoped to retake the fort, but never got there
1870 - Collapse of Riel's rebellion
FOUND IN:
REFERENCES (1 citation):
MacLeod, #7, pp. 47-50, "The Marching Song" (1 short text, 1 tune); #9, "The Capture of For Garry, or Riel's Retreat" (1 text, t 1une)
Roud #25770 and 25771
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Johnnie Cope" (tune) and references there
cf. "Riel's Song" (subject of the Metis rebellion) and references there
NOTES: According to MacLeod, Alexander Hunter Murray composed his first version of this, of a single verse and chorus, before a band of vigilantes went to try to rescue Riel's prisoners from Fort Garry. They failed. But Riel was later defeated, and Murray expanded his song, fiddling with the first verse and adding eleven more slanging stanzas but leaving the chorus alone. MacLeod considers the result two separate songs, and files them separately with a different song in between, and Roud follows this. I really don't agree; seven of the eight lines of the first version are retained in the second, and the eighth line is merely made more specific. The addition of the extra stanzas are much the same: Murray adds detail but doesn't change what the song is about. So I file the two together. In any case, there is little evidence that either is traditional. - RBW
Last updated in version 4.2
File: Macl07

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2017 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.