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The First Foot Guards

We are a Revolutionary War reenactment group based in Boston MA,
accurately portraying the royal household regiment that is now known as
The Grenadier Guards

 

"British Grenadiers"

The regimental march
(The regimental slow march is "Scipio")

The Redcoats are known to have played "The British Grenadiers" on the battlefield at Brandywine in September of 1777, so presumably it was played on many other occasions. Its origins can be traced back to a song entitled "The New Bath" found in Playford's dance books from the 1600's. It is first found in America in William Williams' 1775 manuscript, printed in Pawtucket RI. Today it is one of the most recognizable regimental marches and is still a much-loved patriotic British song.


Some talk of Alexander,
And some of Hercules
Of Hector and Lysander,*
And such great names as these.
But of all the world's great heroes,
There's none that can compare
Chorus
With a tow, row, row, row, row, row,
To the British Grenadier.

Those heroes of antiquity
Ne'er saw a cannon ball
Or knew the force of powder
To slay their foes withal.
But our brave boys do know it,
And banish all their fears.
Chorus:
Sing tow, row, row, row, row, row,
For the British Grenadier.

Whene'er we are commanded
To storm the palisades
Our leaders march with fusees*
And we with hand grenades.
We throw them from the glacis*
About the enemies' ears.
Chorus:
Sing tow, row, row, row, row, row,
The British Grenadiers.

And when the siege is over,
We to the town repair
The townsmen cry, "Hurrah, boys*
Here comes a Grenadier!"
Here come the Grenadiers, my boys,
Who know no doubts or fears!
Chorus:
Then sing tow, row, row, row, row, row,
The British Grenadiers.

Then let us fill a bumper*
And drink a health to those
Who carry caps and pouches,
And wear the louped clothes*.
May they and their commanders
Live happy all their years
Chorus:
With a tow, row, row, row, row, row,
For the British Grenadiers.

 

Notes
Alexander, Hercules et alia:
Great heroes of classical times. Classical allusions were all the rage in poetry of the 18th century, but are here used in apt comparison to our lads.

Fusees:
The Grenadier officers, as we know, carry fusees=fusils=muskets (or carbines), rather than those dangerous bombs.

Glacis:
A term in the science of fortification, referring to the smooth sloping embankment that usually preceded the pit in front of the walls of a fort. Designed to deflect cannonballs, but also a dangerously exposed place to stand lobbing grenades. Our lads were good!
You want more curious words? Glossary

Hurrah:
Let the townsmen cry Hurrah. We will stick to Huzzah.
It's testing the bounds of credulity to think the townsmen would be cheering the lads who had previously been bombing them, but maybe the grenadiers were liberating them from occupation. Poetic license, anyway.

Bumper:
What an evocative word! A bumper was any container that could be used to clink with another reveler's bumper in a toast to someone's health... and as such should always be full or overflowing - the English cornucopia. It could be filled with beer, canary, grog, sack, posset, cider, ale, shrub or punch… or your choice of alcoholic beverage. It usually referred to a handled vessel such as a (pewter or ceramic) beer-mug or (leathern) jack, but it could refer to a (horn or pewter) beaker or even to a (treen, pewter or silver) punchbowl that could be picked up and passed around for everyone to quaff. A bumper is a wonderful symbol of celebration and plenty.

Louped clothes:
You have to pronounce this "loup-ed" in order for it to scan. It means 'looped', and may refer to the lace (those 'bastion loops') common to all Redcoats. Other sources suggest that it refers to the shoulder 'wings' worn by Grenadiers.

 

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