The British Grenadiers

Something for the weekend.   I have always found this tune to be catchy, even though more than a few of my ancestors fought against British Grenadiers!  In the Seventeenth and early Eighteenth centuries a grenadier was a soldier who carried little bombs, think stereotypical black anarchist bombs, and threw them at enemy positions, often in sieges.  The bombs eventually fell out of military use, until they were revived in the hand grenades of the Twentieth century.  However grenadiers,  the tallest and strongest men in a regiment, were still usually grouped together into an elite company and were often held in reserve until their use was needed to turn the tide of a battle.  Whole regiments of grenadiers, most notably in the Royal Army the Grenadier Guards, were sometimes formed.    The song The British Grenadiers is a fitting tribute to those men who were often involved in fighting of the most desperate sort.

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.
With a tow, row, row, row, row, row, to the British Grenadiers.

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,
Sing tow, row, row, row, row, row, for the British Grenadiers.

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.
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!
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 loupèd clothes.
May they and their commanders live happy all their years.
With a tow, row, row, row, row, row, for the British Grenadiers.

8 Responses to The British Grenadiers

  • ..and I was able to sing it to my puzzled kids- thanks to second hand music books that cluttered our ‘piano room’ growing up. (Piano room where all 10 of us practiced before/after school until passing ‘gr.8′ ). We had good food and piano lessons , not clothes or gadgets. Long term health and joy!

  • When I was singing it this morning I was shushed by my daughter! Nothing unusual in that! She views Dad’s singing voice as a crime against humanity!

  • Ever since I saw Barry Lyndon, I’ve liked this Prussian military march:

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcUR6y6Kmkk&hl=en&fs=1&]

  • You should keep an eye out for this game Joe that should be released before the end of the year. It should be filled with Eighteenth Century Prussian marches.

    http://www.ageod-forum.com/showthread.php?t=14064

    Ironically it is a French company doing this, AGEOD, one of the best makers of historical grand strategy computer games.

  • Then there is this Russian military march, appropriated by the Soviets but written before the revolution for the Tsar’s army.

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMNpW1TtoY4&hl=en&fs=1&]

  • Chesterton used the lyrics of The British Grenadiers to argue that England was culturally a Mediterranean country. A really popular song would refer to classical heroes and mythology rather than the Nordic myths fashionable among the intelligentsia of his day.

    And, FWIW, I believe the British Grenadiers were founded as a regiment in the Spanish Army of Flanders by Royalist exiles in Cromwell’s time.

  • I think Joe has been playing Empire: Total War :-)
    The AGEOD game looks good as well.

    There isn’t a much more inspiring military march than this one although the prussan one comes close. Funny how music could make men march in rank and file towards other men who were shooting at them.

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