The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #63103   Message #2882229
Posted By: Gibb Sahib
08-Apr-10 - 01:45 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Fire Maringo / Fire Marengo
Subject: ADD Version Fire Away (Fire Maringo)
I've a new (crackpot?) "theory" about "Maringo." Could it be that the song was one of a few that, at least after 1846, eulogized the US army artillery officer Samuel Ringgold? He died that year whilst serving with General Taylor's forces in the Mexican-American War in the Battle of Palo Alto, on the Rio Grande. The time period, events, geography, and characters all seem to come together with what was popular in other songs of cotton-screwers and early chanties.

And here is a song:

The following song, published in several of the newspapers before the recent events on the Rio Grande, will be read or sung with a melancholy interest—a just tribute to the gallant artillerists, and to their lamented leader.

[From the Boston Daily Times.]


The Mexican bandits
    Have crossed to our shore,
Our soil has been dyed
    With our countrymen's gore;
The murderer's triumph
    Was their's for a day:—
Our triumph is coming—
So fire—fire away!
Fire away!

Be steady—be ready—
    And firm every hand—
Pour your shot like a storm
    On the murderous band.
On their flanks, on their centre,
Our batteries play—
    And we sweep them like chaff,
    As we fire—fire away!
             Fire away!

Lo! the smoke-wreaths' uprising!
    The belching flames tear
Wide gaps through the curtain,
    Revealing despair.
Torn flutters their banner—
    No oriflamme gay:
They are wavering—sinking—
So fire—fire away!
Fire away!

'Tis over—the thunders
    Have died on the gale—
Of the wounded and vanquished
    Hark ! hark to the wail!
Long the foreign invader
    Shall mourn for the day,
When Ringgold was summoned
To fire—fire away !
Fire away!

More on Ringgold here.

He died May 11, 1846. Eulogies all over the country gave a significant boost to the morale of the West Point cadre. Ballads, stage plays, poetry, and songs were all made in his honor.

The only problem I see with this theory is that in Gosse's 1859 reference to the cotton song "fire the ringo", he claims to have heard it in 1838.