“Captain Jinks”


"I'm Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines, I feed my horse on corn and beans And court young ladies in their teens Though a Captain in the army." Jinks describes his money troubles, his fancy clothes, army training, and perhaps his life with the girls


Randolph states that this song dates back to the Civil War era, and there are reports of public performances as early as 1901. Few substantial details seem to exist, though.

The earliest dated account of the song in tradition seems to be that of Laura Ingalls Wilder, who reports her father singing in in 1872 (_Little House in the Big Woods_, chapter 7) and, more significantly, in 1879 (_By the Shores of Silver Lake_, chapter 15). Laura also sang a parody at the latter time -- the same one mentioned by Gilbert:

I am Mrs. Jinks of Madison Square,

I wear fine clothes and curl my hair,

The Captain went on a regular tear,

And they kicked him out of the army.

This would seem to imply a song well-established in tradition -- but we should note that Wilder was writing sixty years later, and that her account is in any case not actual autobiography but fiction based loosely on her life. - RBW


  • Pete Seeger, "Captain Jinks" (on PeteSeeger21)


  1. Randolph 547, "Captain Jinks" (2 short texts, 1 tune)
  2. BrownIII 84, "Captain Jinks" (1 fragment)
  3. Cambiaire, p. 139, "Captain Jinks" (1 short text)
  4. Spaeth-WeepMore, pp. 47-48, "Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Gilbert, p. 61, "Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines" (1 fragmentary text); pp. 86-87 contains a parody about Mrs. Jinks
  6. Silber-FSWB, p. 38, "Captain Jinks" (1 text)
  8. Roud #4858
  9. BI, R547


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1911 (JAFL 24)
Found in: US(Ap,SE,So)