The Blackfoot Rangers


We found the words to this song in Belden's Ballads and Songs, where we also found “The Call of Quantrill” and “Kelly's Irish Brigade.” All three songs originally came from a manuscript in the possession of George E. Sexton (“presumably,” Belden says, “a Confederate veteran”) of Fayette, Mo.

Although the Quantrill and Blackfoot songs have some superficial similarities, they were sung to different tunes. The “Blackfoot Rangers” was almost certainly sung to the tune of the “War Song of the Texan Rangers,” a song contained in Sigmund Spaeth's book, Weep Some More My Lady (1927) and in the collection Sound Off: Soldier Songs (1929). “Blackfoot Rangers” is, in fact, almost a direct steal from this song, with only slight variations in phrasing. In Sound Off it is noted that the “Texan Rangers” song was written by James T. Lytle of Ben McCulloch's Rangers and set to the tune of “I'm Afloat,” written by Henry Russell.

“Blackfoot” is the name of an area of northern Boone County, Mo., near the headwaters of Perche Creek and refers, not to the Indian tribe, but to the fact that the people living in that part of the county either had the habit of going barefoot or dancing barefoot and thus literally having “black feet.” There are several stories about the origins of the term, and it is clear the name was not always viewed as particularly complimentary. Perchetown or “Persia” was considered to be the capitol of the Blackfoot country, though others contend the real capitol was the community of Dripping Springs.

Joseph A. Mudd, in his book With Porter in North Missouri (1909), says the Blackfoot Rangers were a company of some 65 men from Boone and Randolph counties organized by Capt. Harvey McKinney at the town of Everetts in northern Boone County, and later commanded by Capt. L.M. Frost. They were, in fact, sometimes known as “Frost's Company.” Their first battle, according to Mudd, was the Battle of Moore's Mill in Callaway County, July 28, 1862, a fight waged between a small Confederate force under the command of Col. Joseph C. Porter, and a considerably larger Missouri (Union) Militia cavalry regiment under the command of Columbia's Col. Odon Guitar. What happened to the unit after this battle is unclear.

Mount! mount! and away o'er the green wood so wide,
The sword is our sceptre, the fleet steed our pride.
up! up! with our flag, let its bright folds gleam out,
Mount, mount and away on the wild Blackfoot scout!
We heed not the danger, we heed not the foe,
While our fleet steeds will bear us right onward we go;
For God smiles on Blackfoot and He speeds the right,
And never as cowards will we fly from the fight.

Then mount and away, give the fleet steed the rein,
The Ranger's at home in Blackfoot again.
Spur! spur! in the chase, dash on to the fight,
Cry vengeance for Blackfoot and God speed the right!

The might of the Federal gathers thick on the way,
They hear our wild shouts as we rush to the fray.
What to us is the fear of the deathicken plain?
We've braved it before and we'll brave it again.
Hurrah! my brave boys you may fare as you please.
No Federal banner now waves on the breeze.
'Tis the flag of the bushwhack that waves o'er each height,
While on its proud folds our star sheds its light.


© Big Canoe Records, 1995