7th Infantry Band

 

The Band of the 7th Infantry was always a source of Regimental pride.  It often performed for the enjoyment of the officers and men.

 

On September 22, 1814 while in Camp at Tchfonta three of the musicians became extremely inebriated causing their failure to attend Evening Parade.  One of the Musicians, Manuel Cairo was so drunk he was ordered off the field by the Regimental Sergeant Major.  Musician Cairo, a temperamental clarinetist, stormed off the Parade and began striking his clarinet in an attempt to break it.  Sentenced at Court Martial, Cairo got his whiskey ration stopped and was given four days on bread and water.

To listen to the Regimental March, click on the play button (left) below:

The Regimental March

Music helped pass the time, reminded listeners of times past and future hopes. We still keep these period songs alive today around the campfire or on the march.

The one song held most dear by members of the Seventh Infantry. It is the Regimental March entitled "The Girl I Left Behind Me". More men in history have marched away to this song than any other. Its origins are Irish and English and are very old. Aside from being the Regimental March it is also still played at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point at the final Parade before graduation.

Regimental tradition says during the New Orleans Campaign of 1814-1815 the Seventh captured a British soldier, who happened to be singing or whistling this song. This was either in the action at Villerie’s Plantation or Line Jackson. By rite of conquest it was asserted this would become the Regiment’s March.

The story may be apocryphal, and certainly more research needs to be done on its origins. Whether this moment occurred or not, the story makes for great telling and fosters the creation of the all-important factor of unit pride.

This tradition carries on today. Over 180 years from the action outside New Orleans, " The Girl I left Behind Me" still serves as the March of today’s active duty Seventh Infantry.

In his book, To the Halls of the Montezumas, Robert W. Johannsen writes, "Even more popular was a song that held special meaning to fighting men throughout the English speaking world…."The Girl I Left Behind Me". Indeed the tune became so popular that the Mexicans themselves adopted it…The popularity of "The Girl I Left Behind Me" never waned; it was sung by American soldiers throughout the 19th century and beyond. A parody of the song,"in compliment to General Santa Anna", was circulated following the Battle of Cerro Gordo, "The Leg I Left Behind Me".

"One night in camp after the men had retired following a long days march, a Tennessee volunteer brought out his ‘clarionette’ and began playing first "The Girl I Left Behind Me", and then "Home, Sweet Home", the notes floating gently through the quiet air".

The following lyrics are taken from the Forget Me Not Songster, published in Boston by G.W. Cottrell of 36 Cornhill Street. The publication date is between 1820-40.

 The Girl I Left Behind Me

I’m lonesome since I crossed the hills

And o’er the moor that’s sedgy,

With heavy thought my mind is filled

Since I patted Naegy.

Whene’r I turn to view the place,

The tears doth fall and blind me,

When I think of the charming grace

Of the girl I left behind me.

The hours I remember well,

When next to see doth move me,

The burning flames my heart doth feel,

since first she owned she loved me.

  

Each mutual promise faithfully made,

by her whom tears doth blind me

And bless the hours I pass away,

With the girl I left behind me.

My mind her image full retains,

whether asleep or awaken’d;

I hope to see my jewel again

For her my heart is breaking.

But if ever I chance to go that way,

And that she has not resigned me,

I’ll reconcile my mind and stay

With the girl I left behind me.