Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!

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"Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!"
(The Prisoner's Hope)
Cover, sheet music, 1864
Published 1864
Writer(s) George F. Root
Language English

"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] 0

In popular culture[edit]

The song has been parodied numerous times, an early variant being "Damn, Damn, Damn the Filipinos". It also lends the music to an Irish patriotic song, "God Save Ireland", as well as the children's song "Jesus Loves the Little Children". It has also been used for the World War I song, Belgium Put the Kibosh on the Kaiser. Hawkeye (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" on M*A*S*H. In the November 26, 2010, edition of the Pickles comic strip, lead character Earl Pickles sings the chorus as a preemptive strike against his wife's urge to sing holiday songs.[3] Club Deportivo Universidad Católica, one of Chile's most important football clubs, used the music of this song in its official anthem.[4]

This is the original song of the college song of Sapporo Agricultural College (Present: Hokkaido University), Japan.

The labor organizer (and songwriter) Joe Hill wrote a song to the tune called "The Tramp", about a vagabond going through the depression in search for 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'.

The Mormon hymn "In Our Lovely Deseret" employs the tune as well.[5]

As well as An Dearg Doom by Horslips the air of this song was used in Put 'Em Under Pressure.[6]

The German band De Höhner use the tune for their song "Dat Hätz vun d'r Welt", 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. ^ Crane, Brian (November 26, 2010). "Pickles". Washington Post Writers Group. 
  4. ^ "Himno". Club Deportivo Universidad Católica. February 22, 2012. 
  5. ^ "In Our Lovely Deseret". The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. May 2, 2013. 
  6. ^


  • 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]