“The Rebel Soldier”


Floating verses about this lonely soldier's life. "It's grapeshot and musket, And the cannons lumber loud. There's many a mangled body with blankets for a shroud." Characteristic line: "I am a rebel soldier and far from my home."


Randolph's version is specific to the Missouri campaigns of General Sterling Price, but more generic versions of the song are abundant.

The first line, interestingly, seems to float; Sharp, Brewster, and Cox each have version from "One Morning In May" or the like (One morning, one morning, one morning in May, I heard a poor soldier lamenting and say"; another text (to the tune of "Rye Whisky") starts with lyrics from "Banks of the Nile" or something similar ("Oh Polly, oh Polly, it's for your sake alone"). - RBW

Cross references


  1. Randolph 246, "The Rebel Soldier" (1 text)
  2. Sharp/Karpeles-80E 50, "The Rebel Soldier" (1 text, 1 tune -- an abridged composite version)
  3. JHCox 76, "The Rebel Soldier" (2 texts, but only the first belongs here; the second is The Sweet Sunny South (I) [Laws A23])
  4. Hudson 117, pp. 258-259, "O Lillie, O Lillie," mostly "Rye Whiskey" but with some verses belonging here; also 116, p. 258, "I'll Eat When I'm Hungry" (1 fragment, a single stanza based on "Rye Whiskey" but probably belonging here: "I'll eat when I'm hungry, I'll drink when I'm dry, If the Yankees don't kill me, I'll live till I die")
  5. Brewster 91, "One Morning in May" (1 text, in which it is a "poor stranger" rather than a "rebel soldier" and with many floating lyrics)
  6. SharpAp 157, "The Rebel Soldier, or The Poor Stranger" (7 texts, 7 tunes, but A and probably F are "The Poor Stranger (Two Strangers in the Mountains Alone)")
  7. Sandburg, pp. 136-138, "One Morning in May" (2 text, 1 tune, but only the "B" text, "The Troubled Soldier," belongs here; "A" is "One Morning in May (To Hear the Nightingale Sing)" [Laws P14])
  8. Silber-CivWar, pp. 72-73, "The Rebel Soldier" (1 text, 1 tune)
  9. Saffel-CowboyP, pp. 211-213, "Jack o' Diamonds" (1 text; this particular Lomax offering contains elements of "Jack o Diamonds/Rye Whisky," "The Wagoner's Lad," The Rebel Soldier," and others)
  10. Roud #259
  11. BI, R246


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1918 (Cox)
Found in: US(Ap,So)