“Give the Dutch Room”


"Stand back, boys, and give the Dutch room." The singer describes how the Dutch fight hard in the campaign which culminates in the capture of Fort Smith.


This is a strange, and perhaps confused, little song. The first verse refers to a battle at "Cahound." Belden suggests that this is the Battle of Cane Hill (which he misdates to Dec. 5), and I have no better suggestion.

Belden's notes also suggest that the "Lane" of the song was James H. Lane. This seems a little dubious. There were two James H. Lanes in the war: A Unionist Sernator from Kansas (1814-1866) and a Confederate brigadier (1833-1907). The latter served only in the east, however, and the former, although he had fought for "bleeding Kansas," is not listed as a Civil War general.

My own guess is that Lane is Walter P. Lane (1817-1892), a Confederate officer who served in the west throughout the war, though he didn't earn his brigadier's star until March 1865.

The other curiosity is the use of the word "Dutch." The "Dutch" were actually Germans, and the name was used in a derogatory way by non-Germans. But here they are praised. So who wrote the piece?

The purpose may have been somewhat political, to encourage the German soldiers. Their record in the war was not particularly good overall, though through no fault of their own.

At Wilson's Creek, Sigel's "Dutch" brigade had been routed. Troops under Sigel had suffered badly at the hands of Stonewall Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley. And those same troops, now the XI Corps, had been outflanked and routed at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. At no point had the soldiers done wrong; it was the officers' fault. But they had a terrible reputation. This might have been an attempt to perk them up. - RBW

Historical references

  • December 1862 - first campaign against Fort Smith, including the battles of Cane Hill (Nov. 28) and Prairie Grove (Dec. 7). The Union troops, though they occupied Fort Smith, could not hold it; they gained control of the town "for keeps" on Sept. 1, 1863

Cross references


  1. Belden, pp. 373-374, "Give the Dutch Room" (1 text)
  2. Roud #7762
  3. BI, Beld373


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1916 (Belden)
Keywords: Civilwar
Found in: US(So)