Sung by: Almeda Riddle
Recorded in Heber Springs, AR 9/7/61

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A soldier of the legion
Lay dying in Algiers.
There was a dearth of woman’s weeping,
And a drought of woman tears.
A comrade bent above him,
While his lifeblood ebbed away.
He bent with pitying glances
To hear what he had to say.

The dying soldier faltered,
And he took that comrade’s hand.
He said, “I never more shall see
My own, my fatherland.
Take a message and some tokens
To some distant friends of mine,
For I was born at Bingen,
Fair Bingen on the Rhine.

“Oh, tell my brother when you meet him,
And they gather round
To hear my mournful story
In the pleasant vineyard ground,
We fought the enemy full five hours,
And when that fight was done,
Full many a gallant soldier
Lay dying in the sun.

“And some were soldiers old and brave,
Grown old in many wars,
The death wound on their gallant chest
The last of many scars,
But some were young, and suddenly
They saw life’s sun decline,
And one of these was from Bingen,
Fair Bingen on the Rhine.

“Oh, tell my sister not to grieve
Or weep with drooping head
When the soldiers come marching home again
With their glad and gallant tread,
But look upon them proudly,
With a calm and steadfast eye.
Her brother was a soldier too,
And not afraid to die.

“And if a comrade seek her love,
I’d ask her in my name
To look upon him kindly,
With no regret or shame.
Her father was a soldier,
Her brother gave his life,
And he wills that his sister
Should be a soldier’s wife.

“Tell my sweetheart not to grieve,
But love another man,
For I never more shall see
My own, my fatherland.
Tell her the last night of my life
‘Fore e’er the sun be risen,
My body will be out of pain,
My soul be out of prison.

“I dreamed I walked alone with her
Beside the River Rhine.
Her little hand lay trustingly,
Confidingly in mine.”
Then he looked upon his comrade
With a calm and steadfast eye.
“Bend hearer to me, comrade, dear,
And hear my last goodbye.”

(Mrs. Riddle: “Now, there is a verse that I’ve left out, I know, possibly two, of the whole thing. I know, my father’s sword, there’s one that I recall now.”
Dr. Wolf: “Can you sing it?”
Mrs. Riddle: “Well, I can try.”)

"When my father died and left
Us to divide his earthly hoard,
I let them take whatever they wished,
But I kept father’s sword.
With boyish pride I used to hang
It where the bright light used to shine,
Upon the wall of the front parlor room
Of the home beside the Rhine.

(Mrs. Riddle: “Now, there might be others that I’ve forgotten.”
Dr. Wolf: "All right. Put the name of it on there."
Mrs. Riddle: "Almeda Riddle, and this is 'The Soldier's Legion.' As I remember it. It isn't all there."
Dr. Wolf: “Now, what was the name of the town on the Rhine? Spell it, if you can.”
Mrs. Riddle: "Well, you know, I don't remember, and we never get these words spelled right. I think always it was pronounced, "Bingam," but now if there is a Bingam . . . ?"
Dr. Wolf: "I don't know."
Mrs. Riddle: "I don't either. And I've heard it sung and pronounced "Binjen."
Dr. Wolf: "I see."
Mrs. Riddle: "So I don't know.")

All Songs Recorded by John Quincy Wolf, Jr., unless otherwise noted

The John Quincy Wolf Folklore Collection
Lyon College, Batesville, Arkansas
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