Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Friday Night Concert: “I Goes to Fight Mit Sigel”

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on December 27, 2013


“I Goes to Fight Mit Sigel” is a song that both celebrates and pokes gentle fun at the large number of German immigrants that served in the Union army. Sigel, of course, is Franz Sigel, a former Baden Army officer who had been caught up on the wrong side of the 1848 Revolution, and eventually became one of the German Forty-eighters who emigrated to the United States.

Sigel was one of Lincoln’s “political” generals, and though he didn’t make much of a field commander he was very successful in calling his fellow immigrants to Union arms, and in building the Army of the Potomac’s German regiments into a cohesive fighting unit. That is a significant contribution on its own.


I Goes to Fight Mit Sigel
I’ve come shust now to tells you how
I goes mit regimentals,
To Schlauch dem voes of Liberty,
Like dem ole Continentals
Vot fights mit England, long ago,
To save dat Yankee Eagle;
Und now I gets mine sojer clothes,
I’m going to fight mit Sigel.
Ya! Das ist drue, I shpeaks mit you,
I’m going to fight mit Sigel.
Ven I comes from der old Countree,
I vorks somedimes at baking;
Den I keeps a lager bier saloon,
Und den I goes shoemaking;
But now I was a sojer been
To save dat Yankee Eagle;
To give dem Rebel vellers fits,
I’m going to fight mit Sigel.
I gets ein tam big rifle guns,
Und puts him to mine shoulder,
Den march so bold, like a big jack-horse,
Und may been someding bolder;
I goes off mit der volunteers,
To save dat Yankee Eagle;
To Schlauch dem tam Secession volks,
I’m going to fight mit Sigel.
For rations dey gives salty pork,
I dinks dat was a great sell;
I petter likes de Sour Kraut,
De Schnitzel Kaize und Pretzel.
If Fighting Joe will give us dem,
Ve’ll save dat Yankee Eagle;
Und I’ll put mine Frau in breechaloons,
I’m go un fight mit Sigel.
Dem Deutshen mens mit Sigel’s band,
At fighting have no rival;
Un ven Cheff Davis’ mens we meet,
Ve Schlauch em like de tuyvil;
Dere’s only one ting vot I fear,
Ven pattling for dat Eagle;
Ve vont get not no lager bier,
Ven ve goes to fight mit Sigel!





2 Responses

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  1. pycarecen said, on December 28, 2013 at 6:28 am

    I often see Sigel referred to as a “political general.” If by that term we mean that politics helped propel him to his generalship, then of course he was. But nearly every West Pointer who rose to high command used political connections as a weapon of self-promotion.

    Generally, when talking about native-born “political generals” we mean those generals who lacked a West Point education or service in the regular military. Banks, Sickles, and Butler are typical examples.

    Sigel, however, was trained at a German military academy and had four years of professional military service. During the 1848 Revolution he led (briefly before being wounded) a force of citizen soldiers the size of a Union division. This would mean that his military career before the Civil War was not so different from that of native-born officers whom we do not dub as “political”.

    Sigel had many failings as a field general and he should probably never have risen as high as he did, but neither should many West Pointers who were found wanting as division or corps commanders. He was, however, a trained soldier. His role in securing St. Louis for the Union in 1861, and the important (if exaggerated) part he played in the Union victory at Pea Ridge (1862) which secured Missouri, were major contributions to the war effort in the West.

    Sigel’s rise to high rank was promoted by the German community, sometimes to the exclusion of other German officers like Peter Osterhaus. The German press did depict insults to Sigel as attacks on the German community. However, the use of politics and the press for promotion was hardly unknown among those deemed not to have been “political generals.”

  2. Anthony said, on May 4, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    “Dialect” songs were popular in the day.

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