American Patrol & The Girl I Left Behind Me



Today in History, April 2, 1942:

In Hollywood, California, Glenn Miller and his Orchestra record their version of “American Patrol.”  The tune was originally written in 1885 by F. W. Meacham, but Miller’s orchestra would add swing and jazz to the already inspiring instrumental.

This would make it representative and nearly synonymous with the jaunty, cock-sure attitude of American servicemen fighting World War II in multiple theaters.  Miller and his band would entertain the troops with this and other hits in live shows until his death on December 15, 1944, when he would be lost while flying to France for a performance.  Think of the most popular entertainer you can, and they would pale in comparison to Glenn Miller in the late thirties and early forties.  Major Miller’s loss was felt.

It is important to remember what was occurring in April of 1942.  The attack on Pearl Harbor was only five months in the past, American troops at Bataan were about to surrender, the US Navy was conducting hit and run raids on Japanese strongholds, the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo was in this month, and Americans were training up for the war in Europe while U-Boats lurked off of American shores.

“The Girl I Left Behind Me.”  If you listen, and know what you are listening for, at about the 1:40 mark you pick up on the overlay Miller’s crew added to “American Patrol” of “The Girl I Left Behind Me.”  While versions of this tune were popular in Dublin and the British service long before, it became popular in the US Army during the Civil War and in the Cavalry as a marching tune.  So popular in fact, you’ve likely heard it in movies about the US Cavalry.



The Richmond Bread Riots


Today in History, April 2: 1863 – “As she raised her hand to remove her sunbonnet and use it for a fan, her loose calico sleeve slipped up and revealed the mere skeleton of an arm. She perceived my expression as I looked at it, and hastily pulled down her sleeve with a short laugh. ‘This is all that’s left of me’ she said. ‘It seems real funny, don’t it?. . .We are starving. As soon as enough of us get together, we are going to the bakeries and each of us will take a loaf of bread. That is little enough for the government to give us after it has taken all our men.” The Richmond, Virginia Bread Riots. During the Civil War, Richmond had been made the capitol of the Confederacy. Several factors had led to starvation conditions among the general populace of the South. The Union Navy had blockaded nearly all Southern ports, and the blockade runners could not bring in enough supplies. Growing cotton was more profitable than growing food, so most planters did that; what crops were left were usually taken by armies in the field, Confederate and Union. The prices of what little was left skyrocketed…wheat (bread) prices tripled, dairy products quadrupled…if they could be found at all. On this day in 1863 the mothers of Richmond had enough and rioted, breaking windows of bakeries and other stores, making off with bread, clothing, even jewelry. They confronted Confederacy President Jefferson Davis, who initially threw the change from his pockets at the crowd, saying he sympathized with their plight. When that didn’t work, he threatened to have the militia fire into the crowd of war wives and mothers. That finally got them to disperse.