"The Bonnie Blue Flag", also known as "We Are a Band of Brothers", is an 1861 marching song associated with the Confederate States of America. The words were written by Irish born entertainer Harry McCarthy, with the melody taken from the song "The Irish Jaunting Car". The song's title refers to the unofficial first Flag of the Confederacy, the "Bonnie Blue Flag that bears the "single star" of the chorus.
"The Bonnie Blue Flag" holds special significance to the Texas brigade. The song was premiered by lyricist Harry McCarthy during a concert in Jackson, Mississippi, in the spring of 1861 and performed again in September of that same year at the New Orleans Academy of Music for the First Texas Volunteer Infantry regiment mustering in celebration.Template:Cn
The New Orleans music publishing house of A.E. Blackmar issued six editions of "The Bonnie Blue Flag" between 1861 and 1864 along with three additional arrangements. The "Band of Brothers" mentioned in the first line of the song is a reference to the St. Crispin's day speech in William Shakespeare's play Henry V.
The first verse of the song goes:
- We are a band of brothers and native to the soil,
- Fighting for the property we gained by honest toil;
- And when our rights were threatened, the cry rose near and far,
- Hurrah! for the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a single star.
The second line is sometimes given as "fighting for our liberty with treasure, blood, and toil". A copy of the 1861 song sheet posted on a website by University of San Diego professor Steve Schoenherr illustrates the "property" version.
According to Schoenherr, the song sheet was first published in 1861 by A. E. Blackmar and Brother in New Orleans. When Major General Benjamin Butler captured New Orleans, he allegedly arrested Blackmar, fined Blackmar $500, destroyed all copies of the music, and ordered that anyone caught whistling or singing "The Bonnie Blue Flag" would be fined $25 (about $482 in 2005). Eleven other editions of the song were published with different lyrics.
Complete lyrics of the common version
We are a band of brothers and native to the soil
Fighting for our Liberty, With treasure, blood and toil
And when our rights were threatened, the cry rose near and far
Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a single star!
For Southern rights, hurrah!
Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a single star.
2. As long as the Union was faithful to her trust
Like friends and like brethren, kind were we, and just
But now, when Northern treachery attempts our rights to mar
We hoist on high the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a single star.
3. First gallant South Carolina nobly made the stand
Then came Alabama and took her by the hand
Next, quickly Mississippi, Georgia, and Florida
All raised on high the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a single star.
4. Ye men of valor gather round the banner of the right
Texas and fair Louisiana join us in the fight
Davis, our loved President, and Stephens statesmen rare
Now rally round the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a single star.
5. Now here's to brave Virginia, the old Dominion State,
With the young Confederacy at last has sealed her fate,
And spurred by her example, now other states prepare
To hoist high the bonnie blue flag that bears a single star.
6. Then cheer, boys, cheer, raise a joyous shout
For Arkansas and North Carolina now have both gone out,
And let another rousing cheer for Tennessee be given,
The single star of the Bonnie Blue Flag has grown to be eleven.
7. Then here's to our Confederacy, strong we are and brave,
Like patriots of old we'll fight, our heritage to save;
And rather than submit to shame, to die we would prefer,
So cheer for the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a single star.
Lyrics Historically Inaccurate
The third verse of the song misstates the order in which the states seceded from the Union. The dates on which the states seceded are as follows:
South Carolina (December 20, 1860), Mississippi (January 9, 1861), Florida (January 10, 1861), Alabama (January 11, 1861), Georgia (January 19, 1861), Louisiana (January 26, 1861), Texas (February 1, 1861), Virginia (April 17, 1861), Arkansas (May 6, 1861), North Carolina (May 20, 1861), and Tennessee (June 8, 1861).
Thus, Alabama did not take South Carolina by the hand, but delayed its secession until the departure of Mississippi and Florida. The most likely reason for the discrepancy is literary license and a desire to fit within a certain poetic meter.
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- "The Bonnie Blue Flag", Polk Miller and his Old South Quartet (Edison Blue Amberol 2175, 1913)—Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project.
- A performance of the song in the 2003 film Gods and Generals, in a scene set in a Confederate camp which includes cameo appearances by Ted Turner and U.S. Senators George Allen (R-Va) and Robert Byrd (D-WV).
- Lyrics and melody to the song, including a refutation of the alternate lyrics
- Photos of the cover and song sheet dated from 1861, as well as historical trivia regarding the song
- Sheet music for "The Bonnie Blue Flag", from Project Gutenberg
- MIDI for "The Bonnie Blue Flag", from Project Gutenberg
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