WE are coloured Yankee soldiers who've enlisted for the war; We are fighting for the Union, we are fighting for the law; We can shoot a rebel farther than a white man ever saw, As we go marching on. Look there above the center, where the flag is waving bright; We are going out of slavery, we are bound for freedom's light; We mean to show Jeff Davis how the Africans can fight, As we go marching on. We are done with hoeing cotton, we are done with hoeing corn; We are coloured Yankee soldiers just as sure as you are born. When the rebels hears us shouting, they will think it's Gabriel's horn, As we go marching on. They will have to pay us wages, for the wages of their sin; They will have to bow their foreheads to their coloured kith and kin; They will have to give us house-room, or the roof will tumble in, As we go marching on.          Glory, glory, hallelujah! Glory, glory, hallelujah!          Glory, glory, hallelujah, as we go marching on. We hear the proclamation, rebels, crush it as you will; The birds will sing it to us, hopping on the cotton hill; The possum up the gum tree couldn't keep it still, As he went climbing on. Abraham has spoken, and the message has been sent; The prison doors have opened, and out the prisoners went To join the sable army of African descent, As we go marching on.
Glory, glory, hallelujah! Glory, glory, hallelujah! Glory, glory, hallelujah, as we go marching on.
Glory, glory, hallelujah! Glory, glory, hallelujah! Glory, glory, hallelujah, as we go marching on.
Glory, glory, hallelujah! Glory, glory, hallelujah! Glory, glory, hallelujah, as we go marching on.
Sojourner Truth's version of the song, “The Valiant Soldiers,” which appears in the 1878, 1881, and 1884 editions of her Narrative, is almost identical to Silber's edition of the “Marching Song,” containing stanzas one through five plus stanza seven. Only the first line of the first stanza is different: “We are the valiant soldiers who've ‘listed for the war.” Stanzas six and eight are found only in the “Marching Song.” In the post-Civil War editions of Truth's Narrative, “The Valiant Soldiers” is introduced by this sentence by Francis Titus: “The following song, written for the first Michigan Regiment of colored soldiers, was composed by Sojourner Truth during the war, and was sung by her in Detroit and Washington.” As she was unable to read or write, Truth dictated her original autobiography to her friend Olive Gilbert. The Narrative of Sojourner Truth was published in Boston in 1850 by William Lloyd Garrison's printer on credit, and was sold by Truth at her public lectures. She had become a powerful and popular speaker on such reform topics as abolitionism, women's suffrage and temperance, often including songs in her presentations. In 1860 Truth moved from Northampton, Massachusetts to Battle Creek, Michigan. Truth continued to travel and lecture during the Civil War, her fame as a speaker promoted by Harriet Beecher Stowe's article in the April 1863 Atlantic Monthly, romanticizing Truth as the “Libyan Sibyl.” To support herself, Truth sold her carte de visite at lectures in addition to sheets of her favorite songs and copies of her Narrative. Sometime around Thanksgiving 1863, Truth collected food in Battle Creek and delivered it to the First Michigan Colored Infantry, which was being organized that fall at Camp Ward in Detroit. Truth biographers Carleton Mabee[18] and Nell Irvin Painter[19] report she sang “The Valiant Soldiers” either on this occasion or during another visit to the soldiers in February 1864, although they have not cited any contemporary sources that verify this. Neither the story about Truth's visit in the Detroit Advertiser and Tribune of November 24, 1863 nor Truth's letters of that period make any mention of her singing “The Valiant Soldiers.” Truth is first linked to the song in 1878, fourteen years after Miller's version was published in the National Anti-Slavery Standard. Truth's Michigan friend Frances Titus edited an expanded edition of Truth's Narrative by adding a section of letters and articles Truth had collected in the scrapbooks she called her “Book of Life.” The first edition, published in Boston in 1875, did not contain “The Valiant Soldiers.” Later editions printed in Battle Creek in 1878, 1881, and 1884 have the song inserted on a blank page between the original “Narrative” and the “Book of Life” sections. Titus's note that the song was composed for the First Michigan Regiment appears to be one more of the minor inaccuracies she introduced into her editions of the Narrative. There is no question that Truth sang the song; Painter cites a newspaper account of Truth singing a variation of "The Valiant Soldiers" in 1879 to the black settlers in Kansas known as Exodusters But there is no evidence Truth composed the lyrics before Lindley Miller's "Marching Song" was published and widely distributed.
Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon
Isabella Baumfree
Sojourner's Battle Hymn lyrics by Sweet Honey in the Rock
Isabella Baumfree
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