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Broadside ballad entitled 'The Russian Host'


Verse 1: 'Scotland, aroused from her slumbers, / By the war-drnm which beats the alarms, / Ne'er afraid for to face hostile numbers, / When arrayed in her wild warlike arms. / Since the days of the great Julius Caesar, / Till Alma's heights stood in view, / There the Russian host did surrender, / To the lads with their bonnets sae blue! / Three cheers for the bonnets, &c.'

This ballad is a celebration of the Battle of Alma, which took place during the Crimean War, in September 1854. The battle featured combined French and British forces arrayed against a Russian army, but the ultimate rout of the Russians was forced by the well-disciplined Highland Brigade, comprising 3 battalions: the 93rd Highlanders, the Cameron Highlanders, and the Black Watch. In the ballad, the phrase 'bonnets sae blue' refers to the blue bonnets worn by the Black Watch.

Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.

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Probable date published: 1854   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.178.A.2(079)
Broadside ballad entitled 'The Russian Host'
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