Marching Song of the First Arkansas
DESCRIPTION: "Oh, we're the bully soldiers of the 'First of Arkansas,' We're fighting for the Union, we are fighting for the law, We can hit a Rebel further than a white man ever saw..." The soldiers tell how they will show their prowess by defeating the Rebels
AUTHOR: Words: Capt. Lindley Miller?
EARLIEST DATE: 1960 (Silber-CivWarFull); a nineteenth century broadside is listed on p. 147 of Edwin Wolf 2nd, _American Song Sheets, Slip Ballads, and Political Broadsides 1850-1870_, Library Company of Philadelphia, 1963
KEYWORDS: Civilwar battle Black(s) slavery freedom soldier derivative
Jan 1, 1863 - Effectiveness date of the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all slaves in the portions of the U.S. not then in Federal hands
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Silber-CivWarFull, p. 26, "Marching Song of the First Arkansas (Negro) Regiment" (1 text, tune referenced)
Silber-CivWarAbbr, p. 38, "Marching Song of the First Arkansas (Negro) Regiment" (1 text, tune referenced)
WolfAmericanSongSheets, #2194, p. 147, "Song of the First of Arkansas" (1 reference)
Pete Seeger, "Marching Song of the First Arkansas" (on PeteSeeger28)
cf. "John Brown's Body" (tune & meter) and references there
NOTES: The Union first began enlisting Black troops (informally) in 1862. By the end of that year, four regiments were raised, only to have Lincoln shut them down. After the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation, however, Lincoln allowed the formation of (segregated) "colored" regiments.
In the end, over a hundred and fifty such regiments were raised. Their performance was mixed -- but this was probably the fault of the (white) officers rather than the Black troops. A large fraction of the officers in the "Colored" regiments were soldiers who had given up on promotion in the white army, and shifted to the "Colored" troops to get ahead.
The "Colored" troops had other reasons for bad morale; their pay was much lower than their white counterparts, and their equipment less good. And soldiers from both sides looked down on them.
A large fraction of the "Colored" regiments were raised from free Northern blacks, but some were taken from freed slaves. If anything, the soldiers of these regiments fought better than their free kindred.
At least one edtion of this, according to Edwin Wolf 2nd, American Song Sheets, Slip Ballads, and Political Broadsides 1850-1870, Library Company of Philadelphia, 1963, p. 147, was published by "the Supervisory Committee for Recruiting Colored Regiments." - RBW
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