5 facts about the iconic US Army song
The United States Army was founded on June 14, 1775, making it the oldest branch of the military. Our soldiers have a damn proud heritage of defending our right to freedom and we are lucky to have them. You might not be familiar with the lyrics of their official song, but you definitely know the tune.
Here are a few more things you might not know about it:
1. It was written by a West Point graduate in 1908
First Lieutenant (later Brigadier General) Edmund Louis “Snitz” Gruber (that’s a mouthful) wrote what was originally called “The Caissons Go Rolling Along” during a particularly challenging march while stationed in the Philippines. A caisson was a wheeled cart used by the Army to carry ammunition and supplies.
Gruber overheard one of his section chiefs shout to the drivers, “Come on! Keep ‘em rolling!” Inspiration struck.
2. That West Point grad had music in his blood
“Snitz” was the second Gruber in the family to compose a famous, belovéd, and enduring song; one of his ancestors was Franz Gruber, who gave us all “Silent Night.”
3. It became a popular march before it became the official U.S. Army song
In 1917, John Philip Sousa transformed the song into a march and renamed it “The Field Artillery Song”
4. It took a minute for the U.S. Army to adopt it as an official song
After nationwide contests in 1948 and 1952 failed to uncover an appropriate song, Army leadership was polled and the overwhelming majority voted for “The Caissons Go Rolling Along” — but only after new lyrics were written. About 140 sets of lyrics were submitted, and finally phrases by Dr. H. W. Arberg were selected by a committee.
In 1956, it was renamed “The Army Goes Rolling Along” and adopted as the official U.S. Army song.
5. It is played first when performed as part of a medley of service songs
Per Department of Defense guidance, the order of performance for service songs is:
It is authorized to play the songs in reverse, featuring “The Army Goes Rolling Along” as the finale, but on the condition that the relative order of songs must be maintained.
“The Army Goes Rolling Along”
Intro: March along, sing our song, with the Army of the free
Count the brave, count the true, who have fought to victory
We’re the Army and proud of our name
We’re the Army and proudly proclaim
Verse: First to fight for the right,
And to build the Nation’s might,
And The Army Goes Rolling Along
Proud of all we have done,
Fighting till the battle’s won,
And the Army Goes Rolling Along.
Refrain: Then it’s Hi! Hi! Hey!
The Army’s on its way.
Count off the cadence loud and strong (TWO! THREE!)
For where e’er we go,
You will always know
That The Army Goes Rolling Along.
Verse: Valley Forge, Custer’s ranks,
San Juan Hill and Patton’s tanks,
And the Army went rolling along
Minute men, from the start,
Always fighting from the heart,
And the Army keeps rolling along.
Verse: Men in rags, men who froze,
Still that Army met its foes,
And the Army went rolling along.
Faith in God, then we’re right,
And we’ll fight with all our might,
As the Army keeps rolling along.