"Marching Through Georgia" (sometimes spelled as "Marching Thru' Georgia" or "Marching Thro Georgia") is a marching song written by Henry Clay Work at the end of the American Civil War in 1865. The title and lyrics of the song refer to U.S. Army major general William T. Sherman's "March to the Sea" to capture the Confederate city of Savannah, Georgia in late 1864.
The song became widely popular with Union Army veterans after the American Civil War. The song, sung from the point of view of a Union soldier, tells of marching through Georgian territory, freeing slaves, meeting Unionist men glad to see the U.S. flag and U.S. soldiers, and punishing the Confederacy for their starting the war.
After the war, in parts of the southern United States, and particularly in Georgia, the song came to symbolize the devastation and political domination the Union wrought upon the Confederacy and southern U.S. states during the war. Coincidentally, Sherman himself came to dislike "Marching Through Georgia", in part because it was played at almost every public appearance that he attended. In fact, it was even played at his funeral. Outside of the Southern United States, it had a widespread appeal. For example, Japanese troops sang it as they entered Port Arthur and the British Army sang it in India.
The song remains popular with brass bands, and its tune has been adapted to other popular songs, including the controversial, sectarian anthem of Glasgow Rangers Football Club "Billy Boys" and "Come In, Come In". It was also sung by a white Northern transplant (or “carpetbagger,” the term used in pseudohistorical and fictional accounts aligned with the Lost Cause) in the film Gone with the Wind, and Ann Sheridan in 'Dodge City'.
In the United Kingdom, the tune is used for the Georgist anthem, The Land, the de facto party song of the Liberal Democrats and of the former Liberal Party. Liberal Assemblies and Liberal Democrat Conferences were formerly closed with the song, and the song continues to be a favourite at the conference Glee Club.
An anglicized version of the song was recorded between 1901 and 1903 during the Second Anglo Boer War. This version, although almost identical, included alternate lyrics and was issued as "Marching On Pretoria" on the Zonophone label.
In 1919 the song was adapted with lyrics by Tomomichi Soeda and Shogetsu Watanabe as Tokyo Bushi (Pai, pai, no pai), which subsequently became a perennially popular shin min'yō standard. The song was featured in the soundtrack to the film The Flower and the Angry Waves by Seijun Suzuki.
The Finnish protest song "Laiva Toivo, Oulu" (English: "The Ship Hope, Oulu") is set to the melody of "Marching Through Georgia", but with Finnish-language lyrics criticizing the actions of the captain of the titular frigate Toivo.
In 1924, guitar and harmonica player Charlie Oaks released "Marching Through Flanders" for the Vocalion label (Vocalion 15104). It bears an identical melody to "Marching Through Georgia", but details the exploits of American troops in Belgium during World War I.
On October 12, 1929, for the first football game at Sanford Stadium at the University of Georgia, Yale University was heavily favored. The Yale Band had planned to play "Marching Through Georgia," but Yale lost 15-0, and the band had to play something else.
Composer Scott Bradley quoted it in his MGM cartoon scores of the 1940s, including the Oscar-winning Tom and Jerry short "Yankee Doodle Mouse" (1943) and Tex Avery's "King-Size Canary" (1947). In the latter he ironically juxtaposed it with the tune of "Yankee Doodle".
In the classic western movie Shane (1953), ex-Confederate Frank "Stonewall" Torrey (Elisha Cook, Jr.) is goaded by another, harmonica-playing, character with an impromptu rendition of "Marching Through Georgia".
In the 1966 Howard Hawks western El Dorado, the character Bull, in response to being shot at from a bell-laden church tower and then asked to provide cover, proclaims, "Well, just give me another gun and I'll play "Marching Through Georgia."
The Stockton, California band Pavement emphatically reference Sherman's March to the Sea and song "Marching Through Georgia" in their song "Unseen Power of the Picket Fence" from their 1994 album reissue "Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain: LA's Desert Origins."
At the end of Game 5 of the 1996 World Series, after Paul O'Neill caught the final out of the game by robbing Luis Polonia of a potential game-tying (or winning) hit, Vin Scully, who called the World Series on CBS Radio, announced that the New York Yankees had been "marching through Georgia, and where have we heard that before?"
One version of the chorus for Come In is as follows:
Come in, come in, I'll do the best I can
Come in, come in, bring the whole bloody clan
Take it slow and easy, and I'll shake you by the hand
Set you down, I'll treat you decent, I'm an Ulsterman
The first verse and chorus from "The Land" is as follows:
Sound the call for freedom boys, and sound it far and wide,
March along to victory, for God is on our side,
While the voice of nature thunders o'er the rising tide:
"God gave the land to the people."
The land, the land,'twas God who made the land,
The land, the land, The ground on which we stand,
Why should we be beggars with a ballot in our hand?
God gave the land to the people!
- Erbsen 2008, p. 51.
- Eicher 2001, p. 763.
- Cregier, Don M. (1976). "Poacher's Lawyer, 1884-1890". Bounder from Wales: Lloyd George's Career before the First World War. Columbia & London: University of Missouri Press. p. 35-36. ISBN 0-8262-0203-9.
- "flatinternational - south african audio archive - Ian Colquhoun - Marching on Pretoria". www.flatinternational.org.
- Kaukiainen, Yrjö (1998). Laiva Toivo, Oulu (in Finnish). Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura. pp. 10–13. ISBN 951-746-026-0.
- Eicher 2001, p. 762.
- Eicher, David J., The Longest Night: A Military History of the Civil War, Simon & Schuster, 2001, ISBN 0-684-84944-5.
- Erbsen, Wayne, Rousing Songs and True Tales of the Civil War, Native Ground Books & Music, 2008, ISBN 978-1-883206-33-8.
- Ross, Kelley L. (2004). "Marching Through Georgia". I am a Union Man. Archived from the original on August 26, 2014. Retrieved August 26, 2014.
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