“I Fight Mit Sigel”


"Dutch dialect" song, describing how a German immigrant came to the United States and worked, apparently with little success, at various occupations. Now he has given it up; "Dey dress me up in soldier clothes To go und fight mit Sigel"

Supplemental text

I Fight Mit Sigel
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

I Fights Mit Seigle

From Fred W. Allsopp, Folklore of Romantic Arkansas, Volume II,
pp. 222-223. Apparently as printed by W. H. Strong in Ozark Life.

Ven I come from dot Dutch country,
I vorks sometimes at bakin',
Und den I keeps a beer-saloon,
Und den I tries shoe-makin'.
But now Iwas a soldier been,
To save dot Yanke eagle;
Und so I gets mine soldier clothes
Und go und fight mit Seigle.

Yah, dot been true,
I speak mit you,
To go and fight mit Seigle!

(2 additional stanzas)


Franz Sigel (1824-1902), a German immigrant, was the leading German in the Union armies. His fame and influence brought many Germans to the colors.

Despite having had officer training in Germany, he proved a poor soldier; his performance at Wilson's Creek contributed to the Union's loss of that battle, and his performance at Pea Ridge, though adequate, was hardly exceptional. Transferred to the east after that battle, his troops were badly mauled by "Stonewall" Jackson, and his XI (German) Corps came to be the laughingstock of the Army of the Potomac even before Jackson routed it at Chancellorsville in May 1863.

Sigel had retired from active duty in February of 1863, but his political clout led to him being re-appointed in 1864. Sent to the Shenandoah Valley, his incompetence once again shone through. One wonders if the Germans were as ardent for him in 1864 as they had been in 1861.

Foote: Shelby Foote, _The Civil War: A Narrative_ (Volume I: Fort Sumter to Perryville) (Random House, 1958), reports that the phrase "I fights mit Sigel" was popular after Pea Ridge, during the brief time when people might delude themselves into thinking Sigel was a competent soldier.

Cohen reports that this is a parody of an obscure piece "I Fights Mit Sigel," said to be by Grant P. Robinson and printed in _Songs of the Soldiers_ in 1864. It can also be found in Hazel Felleman's _The Best Loved Poems of the American People_, pp. 439-440.

Roud seems to lump this with a completely unrelated piece, "Why Did They Dig Grandmother's Grave So Deep." - RBW


  1. Randolph 217, "I Fight Mit Sigel" (1 fragmentary text, 1 tune, plus another fragment and tune which might be a chorus)
  2. Randolph/Cohen, pp. 210-211, "I Fight Mit Sigel" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 217A)
  3. ADDITIONAL: Fred W. Allsopp, Folklore of Romantic Arkansas, Volume II (1931), pp. 222-223, "I Fights Mit Seigle" (1 text)
  4. ST R217 (Partial)
  5. Roud #4867
  6. BI, R217


Alternate titles: “I Goes to Fight Mit Sigal [sic]”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1913 (Randolph)
Found in: US(So)