Grand March in the Siege of Valenciennes
GRAND MARCH IN THE SIEGE OF VALENCIENNES. English, March (whole time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. See also "Valencienne's Slow March" in Rev. R. Harrison's c. 1815 Cumbrian manuscript, for a different tune from the same work. Joshua Gibbons originally set the tune in the key of 'F' major in his ms. The lengthy siege of the Belgian town of Valenciennes was conducted by the Duke of York from 24 May-28 July, 1793. The French eventually surrendered when the walls were breached, and were allowed to depart the city under parole. This excerpt from is from Marius Kwint's article "The Theatre of War" (History Today, volume 53, No. 6)
Upon the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars in 1793,[circus entrepreneur Philip] Astley, already aged fifty, reenlisted in his old regiment as a kind of embedded journalist, horse-master and celebrity morale-booster in one, and set off to Flanders with an eventually disastrous allied expedition. Astley’s son, John, who had taken over the management of the Amphitheatre, would then have his despatches hastily dramatised for production as musical melodramas on the stage and in the ring. London audiences saw a stage version of the siege of Valenciennes in September 1793, a little over a month after the town fell to allied forces. In it, a character from Astley’s own regiment of 15th Light Dragoons sings darkly of ‘fair-taken booty/The right of a soldier, and true spoil of war’. Of the defenders of the town, the British miners vowed to ‘blow them, and blow them, to atoms in the air!’ Although the spectacle was also frank about the civilian suffering and architectural damage that his forces wrought, it stressed that all this was ultimately the fault of the Assemblée Nationale and their fancy republican ideas.
See "Astley's Ride" for more on Astley.
Source for notated version: the 1823-26 music mss of papermaker and musician Joshua Gibbons (1778-1871, of Tealby, near Market Rasen, Lincolnshire Wolds) [Sumner].
Printed sources: Sumner (Lincolnshire Collections, vol. 1: The Joshua Gibbons Manuscript), 1997; p. 75.