Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!

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"Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!"
Sheet music cover, 1864
Written 1864
Published 1864
Genre War song
Songwriter(s) George F. Root

"Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! (The Prisoner's Hope)" was one of the most popular songs of the American Civil War. George F. Root wrote both the words and music and published it in 1864 to give hope to the Union prisoners of war.[1] The song is written from the prisoner's point of view. The chorus tells his fellow prisoners that hope is coming.


First Verse:
In the prison cell I sit, Thinking Mother dear, of you,
And our bright and happy home so far away,
And the tears they fill my eyes
Spite of all that I can do,
Tho' I try to cheer my comrades and be gay.

Tramp, tramp, tramp, the boys are marching,
Cheer up comrades they will come,
And beneath the starry flag
We shall breathe the air again,
Of the freeland in our own beloved home.[2]

In popular culture[edit]

The song has been parodied and the melody has been repurposed numerous times:

  • The Mormon hymn "In Our Lovely Deseret" employs the tune as well.[3]
  • In 1913, the labor organizer and songwriter Joe Hill (1879–1915) wrote a song for the Industrial Workers of the World to the tune, called "The Tramp", about a man who is trying to find a job, only to get the universal answer: 'Tramp, tramp, tramp, keep on a-tramping / Nothing doing here for you / If I catch you 'round again / You will wear the ball and chain / Keep on tramping, that's the best thing you can do.'
  • In 1950, the German anti-US propaganda song Ami – go home! by Ernst Busch was set to this tune (arranged by Hanns Eisler).
  • The melody of this song, as used in God Save Ireland, makes up part of Put 'Em Under Pressure, the official song written to support Ireland's national football team in the 1990 FIFA World Cup.[5]
  • It was melody of the original song of Sapporo Agricultural College (now Hokkaido University) in Japan.
  • In the TV series M*A*S*H, Hawkeye (played by Alan Alda) twice responds to someone making a thrice repeated complaint (such as "Gripe, gripe, gripe!") by singing the line from the song "the boys are marching".
  • The German band De Höhner use the tune for their song "Dat Hätz vun d'r Welt" (published in 1982), sung in praise of Cologne in the local dialect, Kölsch.


  1. ^ Smith, Stories of Great National Songs, p. 127: "As the soldier was nerved for the shock of battle by the inspiration n the 'Battle Cry of Freedom,' so in his prison cell his heart was fired with hope by the cheering strains of—'Tramp, tramp, tramp, the boys are marching.' And how to the sound of that music the blod still thrills with the enthusiasm of '65. There is forcible suggestion of the solid march of Union armies in the words and music of that familiar song. It was composed by Dr. Root—both words and music—quite early in the war. Its purpose was to give a more hopeful view of the conditions of the country, and more particularly to cheer the boys who had been captured by the enemy and placed in prison pens."
  2. ^ Root, "Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!".
  3. ^ "In Our Lovely Deseret". The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. May 2, 2013.
  4. ^ "Himno". Club Deportivo Universidad Católica. February 22, 2012. Archived from the original on January 18, 2012.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Crane, Brian (November 26, 2010). "Pickles". Washington Post Writers Group.


  • Root, George R. "Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!" (Sheet music). Chicago: Root & Cady (1864).
  • Smith, Nicholas, Col. Stories of Great National Songs. Milwaukee, Wis.: The Yound Churchman Co. (1899).

External links[edit]