Pioneer's March (The)

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PIONEER'S MARCH. AKA – “Whore's March.” English, American, March (6/8 time). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. A fife march used to signal camp duties, in particular clean-up ('Fatigue'), or to drum disorderly women out of camp. 'Pioneers' were at one time the engineer units of an army, whose task it was to erect fortifications and prepare camps; common soldiers were often employed as needed for such labor under the direction of the pioneers, and when performing their own camp preparations or Fatigue, it was associated with the similar labor of the Pioneers. The earliest printing seems to be in David Rutherford’s Compleat Tutor for the Fife (London, 1756), and "Pioneer's March" subsequently appeared in nearly every military instrumental tutor and military musician's copybook collections on both sides of the Atlantic into the second half of the 19th century. It was a popular and frequently employed piece.

The tune appears as "The Whore's March" in Northumbrian musician William Vickers c. 1770 music manuscript collection. A tune called "Pioneer's March" is given the alternate title "Whore's March" in the 1788 copybook of Ensign Thomas Molyneaux of the 6th Regiment (Shelburne, Nova Scotia), however, it goes to a different tune (for which see "Women all tell me (The)" AKA - "Take a Bumper and Try"). When it was commanded that camp followers be evicted from a military encampment, the "Pioneer's March" was played as an accompaniment to the "cleaning up" of whores grown too numerous. "Rogues March (The)" was also used for similar purposes.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Camus (Military Music of the American Revolution), 1976; Example 12, p. 106. Johnson (A Further Collection of Dances, Marches, Minuetts and Duetts of the Latter 18th Century), 1998; p. 10.

Recorded sources:




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