The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #6315   Message #2402837
Posted By: GUEST,Lighter
01-Aug-08 - 01:12 AM
Thread Name: Origins: The Marines' Hymn / Halls of Montezuma
Subject: RE: The Marines' Hymn
So far as I can tell, not even the Marine Corps has discovered the name of the writer of the lyrics which, because of the mention of "the Halls of Montezuma" are often assumed to date back to the Mexican-American War of 1846-48.

But all that means is that the words cannot be older than the climactic Battle of Chapultepec in Sept., 1847, in which a storming party of U.S. Marines played a role.

No pre-WWI text of the "Hymn" has yet been reported. However, a variant of the famous first stanza was printed in the Syracuse, N.Y.,
_Post-Standard_ of May 19, 1906 (p. 10), without a title:

       From the halls of Montezuma
        To the shores of Tripoli
        We fight our country's battles
        On land as well as sea;
        From the Temple of the Dragon
        To the sunny Philippines,
        Tho' our lot be sometimes very hard,
        Who would not be a marine?

An almost identical version, likewise lacking a title, appeared in the _Aberdeen (S.D.) Daily News_ (Nov. 6, 1908), p. 7.

U.S. Marines were sent to the Philippine Islands in 1898, and the "Temple of the Dragon" must be the Temple of the Dragon King in Tianjin, China. A force of about 300 Marines were sent in operations against the "Boxers" in mid 1901.

Unless some variant text of "The Marines' Hymn" is discovered that was unquestionably recorded before 1901, it seems fairly certain that the song did not appear until the period between 1901 and 1906. Versions published from 1914 to 1929, typically with three or four stanzas, sometimes include one that mentions "the Hell Hole of Cavite" and "the Ditch at Panama." Cavite is a province of the Philippines on Manila Bay; and U.S. work on the Panama Canal began in 1904. This stanza too *may* be part of the original text: it could well be by the same author:

From the Hell Hole at Cavite
                To the Ditch at Panama
        You will find them very needy
                Of Marines – that's what we are;
        We're the watch dogs of a pile of coal,
                Or we dig a magazine.
        Though our job-lots they are manifold,
                Who would not be a Marine?

Its author remains uncertain; it circulated originally outside of mainstream printed sources; its tune was borrowed from an Offenbach opera; and there are various versions of the text. In other words, "The Marines' Hymn" began as a folksong by almost anyone's definition!