The singer has left family and girlfriend to join a troop that finds itself fighting Indians. Many of the whites are killed; the singer describes the fight and what he left behind.
Laws lists this as a native American ballad, and in its current form, it certainly is. Belden and others, however, note many similarities to British ballads; it is likely an extensive reworking of some earlier piece. - RBW
Digital Tradition notes, "Probably a rewrite of a Civil War song." Bingo; it's almost word-for-word identical to "Come All Ye Southern Soldiers," with only names, places and enemies changed. - PJS
This particular case is rather a conundrum. Paul Stamler supplies this description of "Come All Ye Southern Soldiers," known primarily from collections by Sharp in the North Carolina mountains: "Singer joins the 'jolly band' to fight for the South; their captain warns that before they reach Manassas they'll have to fight. Singer hears the Yankees coming and fears for his life; the battle is bloody and several of his comrades are lost. Singer invokes mothers, sisters, and sweethearts, and warns prospective soldiers that 'I'll tell you by experience you'd better stay at home.'"
That this is recensionally different from "Texas Rangers" is clear; I would normally agree with Paul in splitting the two. Laws, however, explicitly lumps them, and of course Roud does the same. Given how rare "Southern Soldiers" is, I decided to do the same. - RBW