Captain Jinks

DESCRIPTION: "I'm Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines, I feed my horse on corn and beans And court young ladies in their teens Though a Captain in the army." Jinks describes his money troubles, his fancy clothes, army training, and perhaps his life with the girls
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1868 (sheet music published by J. L. Peters; a publication by Lee & Walker might be slightly earlier but is undated)
KEYWORDS: clothes courting money pride soldier army playparty marines
FOUND IN: US(Ap,MW,SE,So)
REFERENCES (9 citations):
Randolph 547, "Captain Jinks" (2 short texts, 1 tune)
BrownIII 84, "Captain Jinks" (1 fragment)
BrownSchinhanV 84, "Captain Jinks" (1 tune plus a text excerpt)
Cambiaire, p. 139, "Captain Jinks" (1 short text)
Stout 16, pp. 23-24, "Captain Jinks" (1 text plus 2 fragments)
Spaeth-WeepMore, pp. 47-48, "Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines" (1 text, 1 tune)
Gilbert, p. 61, "Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines" (1 fragmentary text); pp. 86-87 contains a parody about Mrs. Jinks
Silber-FSWB, p. 38, "Captain Jinks" (1 text)
DT, CAPTJINK

Roud #4858
RECORDINGS:
Pete Seeger, "Captain Jinks" (on PeteSeeger21)
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Captain Jinks (playparty)" (characters, lyrics)
ALTERNATE TITLES:
"I am Captain Grant of the Black Marines" (1868 Democratic campaign song) (Paul F. Boller, Jr., _Presidential Campaigns_, second revised edition, Oxford University Press, p. 124)
NOTES: Randolph states that this song dates back to the Civil War era, and there are reports of public performances as early as 1901. Few substantial details seem to exist, though.
The earliest dated account of the song in tradition seems to be that of Laura Ingalls Wilder, who reports her father singing in in 1872 (Little House in the Big Woods, chapter 7) and, more significantly, in 1879 (By the Shores of Silver Lake, chapter 15). Laura also sang a parody at the latter time -- the same one mentioned by Gilbert:
I am Mrs. Jinks of Madison Square,
I wear fine clothes and curl my hair,
The Captain went on a regular tear,
And they kicked him out of the army.
This would seem to imply a song well-established in tradition -- but we should note that Wilder was writing sixty years later, and that her account is in any case not actual autobiography but fiction based loosely on her life.
According to Harry Dichter and Elliott Shapiro, Early American Sheet Music: Its Lure and Its Lore, 1768-1889, R. R. Bowker, 1941, p. 103, the Lee & Walker sheet music credit this to "T. Maclagan." But the roughly contemporary sheet music by J. L. Peters does not credit an author.
Note that this song gave rise to a separate playparty, which we have filed as "Captain Jinks (playparty)." - RBW
Last updated in version 4.1
File: R547

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