“The Girl Volunteer (The Cruel War Is Raging)”


(Johnny) has been ordered off to war. His sweetheart begs to go with him. He refuses her; military service would fade her beauty. She offers to buy his release; this too fails. (In some versions Johnny relents and allows her to come.)


The Combs version of this song contains a reference to Pensacola -- the port from which many American troops set out for Cuba during the Spanish-American war (1898). The song is clearly much older than that, however. - RBW

Cross references


  • Louise Foreacre, "The War Is A-Raging" (on Stonemans01)
  • Aunt Polly Joines, "The Warfare is A-Raging" (on Persis1)
  • Pete Steele, "The War Is A-Ragin' For Johnny" (on PSteele01)


  1. Laws O33, "The Girl Volunteer"
  2. Belden, pp. 177-180, "Lisbon" (3 texts, of which this is the third, to which Belden does not assign a letter; the first two are "William and Nancy (I) (Lisbon; Men's Clothing I'll Put On I)" [Laws N8])
  3. Randolph 44, "Johnny Must Fight" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
  4. Randolph/Cohen, pp. 94-95, "Johnny Must Fight" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 44B)
  5. BrownII 100, "The Girl Volunteer" (1 text)
  6. SharpAp 113, "The Warfare is Raging" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
  7. Combs/Wilgus 109, pp. 178-179, "I'm Going to Join the Army" (1 text)
  8. Fuson, p. 104, "Johnny" (1 text)
  9. Silber-FSWB, p. 272, "The Cruel War Is Raging" (1 text)
  10. Darling-NAS, pp. 131-132, "May I Go With You, Johnny?" (1 text)
  12. Roud #401
  13. BI, LO33


Alternate titles: “The Cruel War”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1914 (Brown)
Found in: US(Ap,SE,So)