[Marxism] Re: Happy Birthday,John Brown

Mark Lause MLause at cinci.rr.com
Tue May 10 10:08:23 MDT 2005

There are variations on this song (including a German version), see

One common mistake is that the one verse that has different rhyming
lines: "He captured Harper's Ferry..." is actually part of what was
called "The John Brown Song"--same tune but consisting of a series of
verses with different lines...

This version is usually associated with the First Kansas Colored, which
sang it at a Jan. 1, 1863 review where the Emancipation Proclamation was
read and one of John Brown's sons attended.  Although not formally
accepted into the army until three others were mustered in further east,
the First Kansas (A.D.) was actually the first regiment of "African
Descent" raised in the Civil War and the first to see action (in October
and November 1862 along the Missouri border--months before the assault
of the 54th Massachusetts attacked Battery Wagner).

One of its officers, btw, was our comrade Richard J. Hinton, later one
of the most prominent English-speaking socialists in the country.

Mark L.

PS: I'll take the liberty of adding another variation on "John Brown's
Body" from that corner of the war...If you are confused why the Civil
War turned out as it did, picture yourself a half-starved, demoralized
Confederate soldier looking up the road and seeing about a thousand
armed black men moving towards you singing this one...

The "Marching Song of the First Arkansas"

Oh, we're the bully soldiers of the "First of Arkansas,"
We are fighting for the Union, we are fighting for the law,
We can hit a Rebel further than a white man ever saw,
As we go marching on.

Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
As we go marching on.

See, there above the center, where the flag is waving bright,
We are going out of slavery; we're bound for freedom's light;
We mean to show Jeff Davis how the Africans can fight,
As we go marching on! (Chorus)

We have done with hoeing cotton, we have done with hoeing corn,
We are colored Yankee soldiers, now, as sure as you are born;
When the masters hear us yelling, they'll think it's Gabriel's horn,
As we go marching on. (Chorus)

They will have to pay us wages, the wages of their sin,
They will have to bow their foreheads to their colored kith and kin,
They will have to give us house-room, or the roof shall tumble in!
As we go marching on. (Chorus)

We heard the Proclamation, master hush it as he will,
The bird he sing it to us, hoppin' on the cotton hill,
And the possum up the gum tree, he couldn't keep it still,
As he went climbing on. (Chorus)

They said, "Now colored brethren, you shall be forever free,
>From the first of January, Eighteen hundred sixty-three."
We heard it in the river going rushing to the sea,
As it went sounding on. (Chorus)

Father Abraham has spoken and the message has been sent,
The prison doors he opened, and out the pris'ners went,
To join the sable army of the "African descent,"
As we go marching on. (Chorus)

Then fall in, colored brethren, you'd better do it soon,
Don't you hear the drum a-beating the Yankee Doodle tune?
We are with you now this morning, we'll be far away at noon,
As we go marching on. (Chorus)

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