"La Marseillaise"

Claude-Joseph Rouget de L'Isle, 1760-1836

This very old song dating back to the French revolution (April 24, 1792) was popularly sung by Poilu's during the Great War (1914-1918). (Just like how the Americans were nicknamed "Yanks" or "Doughboys", the French soldier was nicknamed "Poilu" by their allies.)

In 1918 a "legion" of French soldiers arrived in St. Louis, Missouri to help drum up support for the war. They were noted for their blue overcoats and sharp drill.  In St. Louis the French Legion was greeted as heroes and comrades-in-arms. Some French military instructors were assigned to the United State to assist in the training of American soldiers while they were in basic training. While the British instructors emphasized the use of the bayonet and rifle marksmenship, the French emphasized the importance of hand grenades and machine guns in trench warfare. While American leaders traditionally favored British tactics, they quickly adopted the lessons learned by French.

The French Legion in St. Louis in 1918. [full picture]

 MIDI file courtesy Benjamin Tubb

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"La Marseillaise" Lyrics:

(Chaunt de guerre pour l'armiee du Rhin)
 

==[Orginal French]==
1.
Allons, enfants de Patrie,
Le jour de gloire est arrive;
Contrenous de la tyranne,
L'etendard sanglant est leve,
L'etendard sanglant est leve,
Entendezvous, dans les campagnes,
Mugir ces feroces soldats?
Ils viennent jusque dans nos bras,
Egorger nos fils, nos compagnes.
  Aux armes, citoyens!
  Formez vos bataillons!
  Marchons, marchons!
  Qu'un sang impur abreuve nos sillons!

2.
Amour Sacre de la Patrie,
Conduis, soutiens, nos bras vengeurs.
Liberte, liberte cherie
Combats avec tes defenseurs!
Combats avec tes defenseurs!
Sous nos drapeaux, que la victoire
Accours a tes males accents!
Que tes ennemis expirants
Volent ton triomphe et notre gloire.
  Aux armes, citoyens!
  Formez vos bataillons!
  Marchons, marchons!
  Qu'un sang impur abreuve nos sillons!

3.
Nous entrerons dans la carriere
Quand nos aines n'y seront plus.
Nous y trouverons leur poussiere
Et la trace de leurs vertus,
Et la trace de leurs vertus,
Bien moins jaloux de leur survivre
Que de partager leur orguiel
De les venger ou de les suivre.
  Aux armes, citoyens!
  Formez vos bataillons!
  Marchons, marchons!
  Qu'un sang impur abreuve nos sillons!
 

==[English translation]==

La Marseillaise" (April 24, 1792)

[War Song Of The Army Of The Rhine])
by Claude-Joseph Rouget de L'Isle, 1760-1836
Commisioned by the mayor of Stasbourg
for a marching song for French troops.
 

1.
Arise you children of our Motherland,
Oh now is here our glorious day!
Over us the bloodstained banner
Of tyranny holds sway!
Of tyranny holds sway!
Oh, do you hear there in our fields
The roar of those fierce fighting men?
Who came right here into our midst
To slaughter sons, wives and kin.
  To arms, of citizens!
  Form up in serried ranks!
  March on, march on!
  And drench our fields
  With their tainted blood!

2.
Supreme devotion to our Motherland,
Guides and sutains avenging hands,
Liberty, oh dearest Liberty,
Come fight with your shielding bands.
Come fight with your shielding bands!
Beneath our banner come, oh Victory,
Run at your soul-stirring cry.
Oh come, come see your foes die,
Witness your pride and our glory.
  To arms, of citizens!
  Form up in serried ranks!
  March on, march on!
  And drench our fields
  With their tainted blood!

3.
Into the fight we too shall enter,
When our fathers are dead and gone,
We shall find their bones laid down to rest,
With the fame of their glories won,
With the fame of their glories won!
Oh, to survive them care we not,
Glad are we to share their grave,
Great honor is to be our lot
To follow or to venge our brave.
  To arms, of citizens!
  Form up in serried ranks!
  March on, march on!
  And drench our fields
  With their tainted blood!

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Missourians of the First World War

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Sept 1, 2001, Scott K. Williams, Florissant, Mo. USA