Dumfries Volunteers (The)

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DUMFRIES VOLUNTEERS, THE. Scottish, Air and Polka. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The name Dumfries means 'stronghold by the little wood', from the Celtic root-word dun, meaning a fortified place. See note for "Dumfries House" for more information on Dumfries. The Dumfries Volunteers were a militia unit raised in 1795 in response to the threat from Republican France, commanded by seventy-year-old Colonel Arentz Schulyer de Peyster, from a Huguenot family who had settled in America, who had fought with distinction on the Loyalist side in Upper Canada in the American War of Independence. He had married the daughter of a former Provost of Dumfries and had retired to Mavis Groves, near Dumfries, where he lived until the age of ninety-six. Robert Burns joined the Volunteers as a private for a short time, and penned this song (originally set to the tune "Push About the Jorum") as a result:

Does haughty Gaul invasion threat?
Then let the louns beware, Sir!
There’s WOODEN WALLS upon our seas,
And VOLUNTEERS on shore, Sir:
The Nith shall run to Corsincon,
The Criffel sink in Solway
Ere we permit a foreign foe
On British ground to rally!
We’ll ne’er permit a foreign foe
On British ground to rally!

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Miller & Perron (101 Polkas), 1978; No. 38.

Recorded sources:




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