I Fight Mit Sigel
DESCRIPTION: "Dutch dialect" song, describing how a German immigrant came to the United States and worked, apparently with little success, at various occupations. Now he has given it up; "Dey dress me up in soldier clothes To go und fight mit Sigel"
AUTHOR: Words: F. Poole according to Silber-CivWarFull
EARLIEST DATE: 1862 (The Double Quick Songster, according to Silber-CivWarFull)
KEYWORDS: humorous Civilwar foreigner
FOUND IN: US(MW,So)
REFERENCES (6 citations):
Randolph 217, "I Fight Mit Sigel" (1 fragmentary text, 1 tune, plus another fragment and tune which might be a chorus)
Randolph/Cohen, pp. 210-211, "I Fight Mit Sigel" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 217A)
Stout 78, p. 100, "I'm Going to Fight Mit SIegel" (1 text)
Silber-CivWarFull, pp. 325-326, "I Goes to Fight mit SIgel" (1 text, 1 tune)
WolfAmericanSongSheets, #1016, pp. 69-70, "I'm Going to Fight Mit Sigel" (13 references)
ADDITIONAL: Fred W. Allsopp, Folklore of Romantic Arkansas, Volume II (1931), pp. 222-223, "I Fights Mit Seigle" (1 text)
ST R217 (Partial)
I Goes to Fight Mit Sigal [sic]
NOTES: Franz Sigel (1824-1902), a German immigrant, was the leading German in the Union armies. His fame and influence brought many Germans to the colors.
Despite having had officer training in Germany, he proved a poor soldier; his performance at Wilson's Creek contributed to the Union's loss of that battle, and his performance at Pea Ridge, though adequate, was hardly exceptional. Transferred to the east after that battle, his troops were badly mauled by "Stonewall" Jackson, and his XI (German) Corps came to be the laughingstock of the Army of the Potomac even before Jackson routed it at Chancellorsville in May 1863.
Sigel had retired from active duty in February of 1863, but his political clout led to him being re-appointed in 1864. Sent to the Shenandoah Valley, his incompetence once again shone through. One wonders if the Germans were as ardent for him in 1864 as they had been in 1861.
Shelby Foote, The Civil War: A Narrative (Volume I: Fort Sumter to Perryville) (Random House, 1958), reports that the phrase "I fights mit Sigel" was popular after Pea Ridge, during the brief time when people might delude themselves into thinking Sigel was a competent soldier.
Cohen reports that this is a parody of an obscure piece "I Fights Mit Sigel," said to be by Grant P. Robinson and printed in Songs of the Soldiers in 1864. It can also be found in Hazel Felleman's The Best Loved Poems of the American People, pp. 439-440.
Alfred M. Williams, Studies in Folk-Song and Popular Poetry, Houghton Mifflin, 1894, p. 47, declares "I'm going to fight mit Siegel" was "extremely popular."
Roud seems to lump this with a completely unrelated piece, "Why Did They Dig Grandmother's Grave So Deep." - RBW
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