“Barrosa Plains”


The Prince's Own sail from Cadiz to Gibraltar Bay and land at Algesir. Their Spanish allies at Tarifa Bay refuse to fight. General Graham leads the Britons and Irish to escape an ambush, defeat the French and capture an eagle standard.

Supplemental text

Barrosa Plains
  Partial text(s)

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From Lewis Winstock, The Music of the Redcoats 1642-1902, #31, pp. 126-127.
Apparently from the Sgt. F. Newman manuscript.

'Twas on a Thursday morning that from Cadiz we set sail,
As many a gallant Frenchman had good reason to bewails;
Straight into Gibraltar Bay our gallant fleet did steer,
And on the Saturday we went ashore at Algesir.
  For we are the lads of honour, boys, belonging to the Crown,
  And death to those who dare oppose the saucy "Prince's Own.".

(9 additional stanzas)


The "Prince's Own" is the 87th Prince of Wales Irish Regiment of Foot which captured the first French eagle standard to be taken in battle (source: "French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars 1789-1815" in _The Royal Irish Regiment_ at The British Army site). - BS

This regiment is now the Royal Irish Fusiliers (Princess Victoria's); it has been combined with the 89th Foot. The 87th, according to the histories I've seen, was the regiment most praised for its work at Barrosa. The unit, in fact, earned *nine* battle honours for the Peninsular Campaign, and eventually adopted a tune called "Barrosa" (possibly this one, though I don't entirely trust that) as its quick march.

Lewis Winstock, _The Music of the Redcoats 1642-1902_, p. 125, writes, "[To] a French officer it was 'the most terrible bayonet fight I had ever seen' ... the 87th stabbing like demons and howling their war-cry -- 'Faught a ballagh,' ('clear the way') swung the balance of fortune to the British. Thomas Dibdin was one of several ballad writerswho celebrated the victory which cost the French 2,000 casualties out of a force of 7.000, but the song that has survived is the one the Irish themselves wrote. Its precise origin is unknown, but the Royal Irish Fusiliers have a set of handwritten verses which appear to date from early Victorian times."

For further background, see the notes to "The Battle of Barossa" (yes, that's the way it's spelled in that song, even though it's wrong). There are many parallels between that song and this; Roud lumps them, and I've thought about the same. But the differences are also substantial, since they involve different regiments. I very tentatively keep them separate. - RBW

Historical references

  • March [5], 1811 - "The battle of Barrosa took place in relief of Cadiz ... when General Sir Thomas Graham defeated a French force under Marshall Victor." (source: Moylan)


  • cf. "The Battle of Barossa" (subject)
  • cf. "Oliver's Advice (Barossa)" (subject)


  1. Moylan 177, "Barrosa Plains" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. ST Moyl177 (Partial)
  3. Roud #2182
  4. BI, Moyl177


Alternate titles: “Barrosa”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1970 (Winstock's _Songs and Music of the Redcoats_, according to Moylan)