“Oliver's Advice (Barossa)”


As storm, night, and the enemy approach, the soldiers are advised, "Put your trust in God, my boys, and keep your powder dry." The soldiers are reminded of all God did for the Israelites. They should trust in God also


The "battle" of Barrosa was more of a skirmish; the forces involved were small, though the British won a clear victory. Most short histories of the Napoleonic Wars don't seem even to mention it.

The 87th Royal Fusiliers (the regiment allegedly described in the song, though there isn't a single specific reference in the piece) was raised in 1793; its separate history ended when it was combined with the 89th foot in 1881 to form the Royal Irish Fusiliers. Barrosa was its second battle honor, and a tune called "Barossa" remains one of the Royal Irish Fusiliers' official quick marches.

The song is called "Oliver's Advice" because Oliver Cromwell is reported to have said, "Put your trust in God, but mind to keep your powder dry."

The song contains assorted Biblical references to God going before the Israelites as a "pillar of cloud... by day... and a pillar of fire... by night"; see, e.g., Exodus 13:41. For parting the Red Sea, see Exodus 14:21-29. - RBW

Nobody seems to attribute this to anyone except Colonel Blacker (1777-1855). Duffy and, probably as a result, Sparling date this "Orange Ballad" 1834. - BS

Historical references

  • March 5, 1811 - Battle of Barrosa

Cross references


  1. SHenry H98a, p. 64, "Barossa/Oliver's Advice" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. OLochlainn-More 72B, "Oliver's Advice" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Moylan 134, "Oliver's Advice" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. OrangeLark 20, "Oliver's Advice" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Healy-OISBv2, pp.35-38, "Oliver's Advice" (1 text; tune on p. 20)
  6. ADDITIONAL: Charles Gavan Duffy, editor, The Ballad Poetry of Ireland (1845), pp. 83-86, "Oliver's Advice"
  7. H. Halliday Sparling, Irish Minstrelsy (London, 1888), pp. 453-456, 495-496, "Oliver's Advice"
  8. Roud #2182
  9. BI, HHH098a


Author: Words: William Blacker ?
Earliest date: 1834 (Duffy)
Found in: Ireland