Poor Old Soldier (The)

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POOR OLD SOLDIER. AKA and see "Old Soldier (1) (The)," "Poor Old Robinson Crusoe," "Rogue's March (1) (The)." American, March (6/8 time). USA, southwestern Pa. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. Both duple and triple-time versions of the tune exist. Once a secular song tune it has, since 1750, been the regulation drumming-out of the ranks tune for offenders in the British army, and hence has acquired the title of "The Rogue's March." In America it became one of the regulation camp duty tunes for fifers, one of the only ones collected from Pennsylvania fifers states Bayard (1981). Flute player Henry Beck, who left a post-Colonial period manuscript, gives the tune as “Poor Old Tory.” The "Poor Old Soldier" title is from the chorus of ditties set to the tune, which variously begin:

Sold me blanket and sold me coat, sold it for half a penny;
Sold me blanket and sold me coat, sold it for half a penny.
Poor old soldier, poor old soldier
If ever I ‘list for a soldier again, the Devil will be me Sergeant;
If ever I enlist again, the Devil will be me Sergeant.

Or,

Tuppence I got for selling me cloak,
Tuppence for selling me blanket;
If ever I list for a soldier again,
Devil shall be me sergeant.
Poor old soldier, poor old soldier,
If ever I list for a soldier again
Devil shall be me sergeant.


Sources for notated versions: George Fisher (fifer from Somerset County, Pa., 1962) and Steffy (fiddler from Pa., 1949) [Bayard].

Printed sources: Bayard (Dance to the Fiddle), 1981; No. 449A-B, pp. 428-429. Johnson (A Further Collection of Dances, Marches, Minuetts and Duetts of the Latter 18th Century), 1998; p. 10.

Recorded sources:




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