" Riders For The Flag"  
Composed For The 4th Cavalry Regiment
John Phillip Sousa (1927)

J. P.Sousa
J. P. Sousa
Sheet Music Cover

John Philip Sousa was born in Washington, D.C., on 06 November, 1854. Sousa received his early education in Washington public schools, while simultaneously studying music at a private conservatory operated by John Esputa Sr. At the age of 13, he enlisted in the US Marine Band, in which his father played trombone, as a "boy" (apprentice) musician, but he also continued his private music studies.

His major instrument was violin which he studied with George Felix Benkert from 1864 to 1867, but Sousa also took lessons on the piano, flute, cornet, baritone, trombone, alto horn, and voice. Benkert also taught Sousa harmony and composition. After serving seven years with the marines, he was discharged and performed as a violinist and conductor in various theater orchestras in Washington and Philadelphia.

By 1880, his fame as a conductor, composer, and arranger had been established. He was appointed leader of the US Marine Band and held this position for 12 years, eventually molding the band into one of the finest military bands in the world.

Sousa resigned from the Marine Corps in 1892 to form his own civilian band, and in a matter of months this band assumed a position of equality with the finest symphony orchestras of the day. It was a concert organization, not a marching band. The finest available instrumentalists were engaged, and among the celebrated soloists to perform with the band over the years were Herbert L. Clarke (cornet), Arthur Pryor (trombone), and Simone Mantia (euphonium).

People throughout the world flocked to see the "March King" during his many American and worldwide tours. He employed a principle which endeared him to the public: everything was played to perfection, whether it was a classical masterpiece or a popular song. Foremost in Sousa's mind was how best to please his audiences.

A man of tremendous energy, Sousa adjudicated at numerous regional and national band festivals, frequently served as guest-conductor, participated in a number of organizations, and crusaded for or against several legislative issues which affected the livelihood of musicians. He died suddenly following a rehearsal of the Ringgold Band in Reading, Pennsylvania, on 06 March, 1932. He is buried with other family members at Congressional Cemetery in Washington.

About Riders For The Flag

This march, composed and published in 1926, was dedicated to Colonel Osmun Latrobe, Regimental Commander (January 1925 to June 1927), and the officers and men of the 4th US Cavalry stationed at Fort Meade, South Dakota. It was never forseen that two decades later - the US Army (in the implementation of the National Security Act) would abolish the Horse Cavalry and the Cavalry Branch as a separate service branch in 1947.

Sousa was a devoted horseman, a dedicated rider, hence his musical interest in the colorful cavalry units of the US Army. Sousa's love of horses led him to purchase a beautiful balck Arabian steed which he called Aladdin. No magic servant, this horse threw him, wrenching his right shoulder and causing him to adopt that conducting style in which he swung his arm from the elbow rather than the shoulder. The military title, the dedication, and the bugle call in the trio of this march reflect the patriotism which Sousa felt throughout his lifetime.

Traditional Lyrics


Yes, we'll rally 'round the flag, boys
We'll rally 'round again
Shouting the battle cry of Freedom
We will rally from the hillside
We'll gather from the plain
Shouting the battle cry of Freedom


The Union forever, hurrah boys, hurrah
Down with the traitor, up with the star
While we rally 'round the flag, boys
Rally once again
Shouting the battle cry of Freedom


We will welcome to our numbers
The loyal, true and brave
Shouting the battle cry of Freedom
And although he may be poor
Not a man shall be a slave
Shouting the battle cry of Freedom



So we're springing to the call
From the East and from the West
Shouting the battle cry of Freedom
And we'll prove a loyal crew
To the land we love the best
Shouting the battle cry of Freedom


"Days' End"

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Copyright © 1996, Cavalry Outpost Publications ® and Trooper Wm. H. Boudreau, "F" Troop, 8th Cavalry Regiment (1946 - 1947). All rights to this body of work are reserved and are not in the public domain, or as noted in the bibliography. Reproduction, or transfer by electronic means, of the History of the 1st Cavalry Division, the subordinate units or any internal element, is not permitted without prior authorization. Readers are encouraged to link to any of the pages of this Web site, provided that proper acknowledgment attributing to the source of the data is made. The information or content of the material contained herein is subject to change without notice.

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