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AfriGeneas Military Research Forum Archive

"Reg'lar Army Man"

Mr. Powell, Bennie, Sharon, Mr. Smith, Tony--and all the ships at sea:

You bet, Mr. Powell, when you posted this AM that the post-Civil War black regulars were just men [soldiers]--the good and the bad. You don't need to dig too deep in the records to reach this conclusion--if your brain and eyes are open and receptive to the facts.

And here's a wonderful rambling poem I found recently in the June l924 issue of Winners of the West. Nothing specific about black regulars-but if you've read the record, or are still looking into it, you will know there is a clear link between what you are finding and the following long-ago words re the Regulars--the good and the not so:


He ain't no gold lace belvidere to sparkle in

the sun,
He don't parade with gay cocade or posies

in his gun,
He ain't no pretty soldier boy, so lovely, spick

and span,
He wears a crust of tan and dust, the reg'lar

army man,
The prancin', marchin', pipeclay starchin,

reg'lar army man.

He ain't at home at Sunday school, nor yet

at social tea,
And on the day he gets his pay, he's apt to

spend it free,
He ain't no temperance advocate, he likes to

fill the can,
He's kinder rough and maybe tough, the

reg'lar army man
The rarin', tearin', sometimes swearin',

reg'lar army man.

No statre will call him noble son, he ain't no

ladies pet,
But let a row start anyhow, they'll send for

him you bet,
He don't cut any ice at all in fashion's social

He gets the job to face the mob, the reg'lar

army man,
The willin', drillin', made for killin', reg'lar

army man.

There ain't no tears shed over him when he

goes off to war,
He gets no speech or prayerful preach from

mayor or governor,
He packs his little knapsack up and trots off

with the van,
To start the fight and start it right, the

reg'lar army man,
The rattlin', battlin', colt or gatlin', reg'lar

army man.

He makes no fuss about the job, he don't

talk big or brave,
He knows he's in the fight to win or help

fill up a grave,
He ain't no mamma's darlin', but he does the

best he can,
And he's the chap that wins the scrap, the

reg'lar army man,
The dandy, handy, cool and sandy, the reg'lar

army man.

Winners of the West noted that the author was "Roy Linville, in Oregon, Veteran."

I sent a copy of this poem to a friend who is curator a the S.L.A. Marshall Military History Collection at the University of Texas-at El Paso. He sent me back a version (with minor difference) of the same poem as it appeared sometime in l939 in a publication, Our Army. In this journal the author is listed as a Pvt. McKeel of the l7th Infantry.

Well, I suppose we'll never know--and I for one don't much care if Linville copied from McKeel or the other way round--or if they both "borrowed" from some unpublished and still unknown work by Kipling. For me, The Reg'lar Army Man is every bit as good as Kipling (not better mind you--but just as good). And I think the words capture the essense, as I have researched and understand it, of what it was to be an Old Army regular--regardless of race.

Tom Phillips

Messages In This Thread

"Reg'lar Army Man"
Re: "Reg'lar Army Man"
Re: "Reg'lar Army Man"

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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