Volunteer Songs and Poetry

by Paul Barrass

One of the features of the Volunteer Movement during this period was the enlistment in the ranks of notable literary figures:Robert Burns (Royal Dumfries Volunteers), Sir Walter Scott (Royal Edinburgh Light Dragoons),and Richard Brinsley Sheridan (Lt Col St James Volunteers).

It is hardly surprising then that the movement was celebrated in song, poem, and story throughout its existence. Many of these patriotic missives are lost to the mists of time and many more exist only as tantalising references in newspaper accounts or names in private correspondence. A few though have come down to us and I am happy to list a few of these here. One of them was written by a Scottish lady Joanna Baillie who was a personal friend of Sir Walter Scott and was living in Hampstead near London during the Invasion scare. If anyone knows of others and would like them listed please send them to me at majorpaul1803@aol.com and I will be happy to showcase them here.

The Loyal Volunteers will be performing the songs and poetry at least once a year and all are welcome to come to hear them.


Click here: Melville's Horse

This poem shows the lighter and bawdier side of Volunteer humour. It is in honour of a horse who would have agreed with Benjamin Franklin who once remarked

''Let the wind behind you always be your own!''


Click here: War-Song of the Royal Edinburgh Light Dragoons @ Everything2.com

Written by Sir Walter Scott who played a prominent part in the raising and administration of this unit.


Click here: Does Haughty Gaul Invasion Threat?

This is the most famous Volunteer broadside against the forces of French tyranny. Robert Burns was a prominent member of the Royal Dumfries Volunteers and served on their committee. It is said that after he penned these verses, which were often sung to the rousing drinking tune 'Push around the Jorum’, it greatly helped recruiting.


Click here: Volunteer's Song (written in 1803)

By Joanna Baillie


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