"Official Song of the 1st Cavalry Division"
An Old Irish Quick Step|
Lyrics by Thomas Moore, circa 1807
Synthesized by UnKnown Artist
| 1st Cavalry Division
Official Song - Garryowen
|1st Cavalry Division Official Song - Garryowen|
The geographical area that provided the inspiration and the name of one of the
most popular, rollicking folk songs of Ireland is situated on the upward slope
of a hill in Limerick County, near the City of Limerick. Local traditions and
folk lore have preserved the historical significance of the area and the
origin of its name "Garryowen", a compounded word composed of two Irish words,
which means "Garden of Owen".
A review of Irish literature reveals that "Owen's garden was a general rendezvous for those who sought simple pleasure and amusement. The elderly drank together under the shade of trees and the young played at ball, goal, or other athletic activities on the green; while a few lingered in the near-by hedge-rows with their fair acquaintances. Owen's garden was soon to became as famous for scenes of strife as it was for mirth and humor; and broken arms, legs and heads became a staple article of manufacture in the neighborhood."
"These new diversions were encouraged by a number of young people having a greater supply of animal spirits than wisdom to control themselves. The young gentlemen being fond of wit, amused themselves by having parties at night to wring the heads off all the geese, and tearing knockers off the doors in the neighborhood. They sometimes suffered their genius to soar as high as the breaking of a street lamp, and even resorting to the physical violence of a watchman. But, this type of joking was found a little too serious to be repeated very frequently, for few achievements of so daring a violence were documented in the records. They were obliged to content themselves with less ambitious distinction of destroying the door knockers and store-locks, annoying the peace of the neighborhood, with long continued assaults on the front doors, terrifying the quiet onlookers with every species of insult and provocation, and indulging their fratricidal propensities against all the geese in Garryowen."
"The fame of the 'Garryowen Boys' soon spread far and wide. Their deeds were celebrated by some inglorious minstrel of the day in that melody which has, since, resounded over the world; and even symbolically competed for national popularity with 'St. Patrick's Day'. A string of verses were appended to the tune which soon enjoyed equal notoriety. The name of Garryowen was as well known as that of the city of Limerick, itself, and Owen's garden became almost a synonym for Ireland."
"Garryowen" is known to have been used by Irish regiments as a drinking song.
As the story goes, one of the Irish "melting pot" troopers of the 7th Cavalry,
under the influence of "spirits", was singing the song. By chance Custer heard
the melody, liked the cadence, and soon began to hum the tune himself. The
tune has a lively beat, that accentuates the cadence of marching horses, and
for that reason was adopted as the regimental song soon after Custer arrived
at Ft. Riley, Kansas to take over command of the 7th Cavalry Regiment. It was
the last song played for Custer's men as they left General Terry's column at
the Powder River and rode into history.
Over its history, continuing the Regimental legacy, the 7th Cavalry Regiment has formed 3 Garryowen Bagpipe and drum bands.
In closing out of the Gulf War and returning home to the United States, in 1991, the 1st Cavalry Division the band joined in leading the whirlwind celebrations by parading down a dozen avenues of Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Washington, DC and New York.
The visit to New York City was a tremendous welcome from the public, press and police. At Battery Park, the parade formation turned into Broadway, which became a wide "red" carpet for the Band to perform. There on Broadway, under a sunlit snowstorm of paper, the 1st Cavalry Division Band, lead by Bandmaster Sgt. First Class Gary Flake, took the Big Apple by storm when they played the swaggering melody of the Division song, "Garryowen".
Lyrics of the song, unchanged over the years, are as follows:
but join with me each jovial blade,
come booze and sing and lend your aid,
to help me with the chorus:
Instead of spa we'll drink down ale
We are the boys who take delight
We'll break windows, we'll break doors,
We'll beat the bailiffs out of fun,
Our hearts so stout have got us fame,
and a regiment of great renown,
Our name's on the pages of history.
From sixty-six on down.
If you think we stop or falter
While into the fray we're going
Just watch the steps with our heads erect,
While our band plays Garryowen. (Chorus)
In the Fighting Seventh's the place for me,
We know fear when stern duty
Then hurrah for our brave commanders!
The theme of the movie follows the life of George Armstrong Custer (played by Errol Flynn) from attending West Point, wooing of Elizabeth Bacon (played by Olivia de Havilland) who becomes his loving wife, the American Civil War, and the Battle of Little Big Horn. In the film, the battle is blamed on a group of unscrupulous corporations and politicians craving the land of Crazy Horse (played by Anthony Quinn) and his people.
Custer is portrayed as a fun-loving, dashing figure who chooses honor and
glory over money and corruption. Though his "Last Stand" is probably treated
as more significant and dramatic than it may have actually been, Custer
follows through on his promise to teach his men "to endure and die with their
boots on." In the movie's version of Custer's story, a few corrupt white
politicians goad the Western tribes into war, threatening the survival of all
white settlers in the West. Custer and his men give their lives at Little
Bighorn to delay the Indians and prevent this slaughter. A letter left behind
by Custer absolves the Indians of all responsibility.
In this brilliant outtake that shows the pathos of the departure to the front, the troops of Teddy Roosevelt's (Tom Berenger's) 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry that was formed in 1898. In the departure scene for the train ride east across the South to Florida for embarkation to Cuba, the troops fall in under the orders of Captain Bucky O'Neill (Sam Elliott). In preparing for the departure, it was discovered that many of the wounds of the Civil War (or the War Between the States, to make everybody happy) have started to heal. Heard in the background of the departure, was the tune of Garryowen, stunningly sung by Elan Oberon (who happens to be the wife of John Miliu).
The Royal Irish showed noble courage and performed gallant service throughout the Crimean War. On their colors are inscribed "Egypt"; "China"; "Blenheim"; "Ramillies"; "Oudenarde"; "Malpaquet"; "Pegu"; "Savastopol"; "New Zealand"; "Afghanistan, 1879-80"; "Egypt, 1882"; "Tel-el-Kebir"; "Nile, 1884-85"; "South Africa, 1900-02"; "Flanders, 1914" and "Gallipoli, 1915." The Royal Irish Regiment was disbanded in 1922 on the formation of the Irish Free State.
One cannot wonder how many of the former members of the Royal Irish Regiment emigrated to the United States and enlisted as troopers of the US Cavalry Units. Could this have been how Custer heard this song?
Part of the mystery may be solved. The history of the 69th New York Infantry
reflects the history and progress of the Irish in America. From unwelcome
immigrants escaping famine and persecution, they were assimilated and
integrated into the society of America. Its ranks were filled with heroes,
priests, poets, politicians, laborers, lawyers, in short a cross section of
the Ireland's greatest export - her sons.
"The Fighting 69th" had its origin in early 1851, when the Irish citizens in New York City formed a militia regiment known locally as the Second Regiment of Irish Volunteers. Unanimously, the group selected "Garryowen" as their official regimental marching song. On 12 October 1851, the Regiment was officially accepted as part of the New York Militia and designated as the Sixty-Ninth Regiment. In 1858, the Regiment would have its first call to duty. Their many subsequent calls to duty included the Civil War, Spanish American War, the Mexican War, World War I and World War II.
Today, the 69th is now officially the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry (Mechanized), and is part of the 42nd Infantry Division. The 42nd Infantry Division received the name "Rainbow Division" in 1917 during its organization at Camp Mills, Long Island, New York. The Chief of Staff of the Division, at that time, was Colonel Douglas MacArthur. While discussing the organization of the Division and reviewing the National Guard units from 26 states that would make up the Division, MacArthur commented "The 42nd Division stretches like a Rainbow from one end of America to the other." The comment caught the interest of those present and they decided to call it the "Rainbow Division".
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Revised 12 Jan '13 SpellChecked