Santa Anna's Retreat

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SANTA ANNA'S RETREAT. AKA - "Santa Anna's March." AKA and see “Johnny Cope (2).” Old Time, Breakdown. USA, southwestern Va. A Mixolydian/Dorian. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. To most Americans, Antonio López de Santa Anna (1794-1876) is best known as commander of the Mexican forces at the Alamo in 1836 and, later defeated at the battle of San Jacinto (he was captured and interviewed by U.S. President Andrew Jackson, then released to return home). At the time of the conflict with Texas he was not only general of the army but the president of Mexico, and in fact he was leader of Mexico at several different times during his life. During the Mexican-American War of 1846-47 he again commanded the Mexican forces opposing the United States army. The Fuzzy Mountain String Band learned the tune from fiddler Henry Reed of Glen Lyn, a town in Giles County, western Virginia, at the confluence of the East and New rivers. Reed is said to have learned the tune from his mentor, neighbouring fife player Quince Dillon, an actual fifer in the Mexican War. Reed told musicologist Alan Jabbour that the tune was used by Santa Anna’s army in retreat from the Americans, although Jabbour thought it was more likely it was played by the Americans due to its British origins.

Precursor versions of the tune do appear in British and Irish collections, and in some early American tutors as well. Under the title “Johnny Cope (2)” it can be found in O’Neill’s Music of Ireland (1903, No. 1812, with the remark “Irish version”) and in Frank Roche’s Collection of Traditional Irish Music, vol. 3 (1927, p. 78, No. 202). Jabbour finds that Roche prints the tune again in the same volume as “Nights of Gladness (4)” (Vol. 3, p. 74, No. 196). Early American printings are by New York music publisher Edward Riley, in Riley’s Flute Melodies (c. 1814, p. 47) as an untitled quickmarch, and in a manuscript collection of dance tunes c. 1775-1800 held at the Newberry Library, Chicago, where it appears as “Shay’s March” (possibly a reference to the Massachusetts leader of Shay’s Rebellion at the end of the 18th century). Finally, Jabbour notes the American hymn “Spring” is set to it, from the shape-note tome Missouri Harmony (1825, p. 113).

Additional notes

Sources for notated versions: - Henry Reed via the Fuzzy Mountain String Band (N.C.) [Brody]; Dana Loomis (Athens, Ohio) [Carlin].

Printed sources : - Brody (Fiddler’s Fakebook), 1983; p. 250. Carlin (English Concertina), 1977; p. 25. Spadaro (10 Cents a Dance), 1980; p. 46.

Recorded sources: -Flying Fish 089, The Red Clay Ramblers "Chuckin' the Frizz" (1979, as “Santa Anna’s March”, learned from W. Va. fiddler Frank George). Rounder 0035, Fuzzy Mountain String Band "Summer Oaks and Porch" (1973). Takoma D 1064, Norman Blake "Directions." CD, Alan Jabbour, James Reed, Bertram Levy – “A Henry Reed Reunion” (2002).

See also listing at:
Hear Alan Jabbour's 1966 field recording of Henry Reed playing the tune at Slippery Hill [1]
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [2]



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