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This is probably an American adaptation of the Irish tune Shule Aroon which dates back to the 17th Century. It is also known as Buttermilk Hill and Shule Agra. Johnny's Gone For a Soldier was popular during the American Revolutionary War.

Johnny's Gone For A Soldier

Here I sit on Buttermilk Hill
Who could blame me cry my fill,
Every tear would turn a mill,
Johnny's gone for a soldier.

Chorus
Oh my baby, oh my love,
Gone the rainbow, gone the dove,
Your father was my only love,
Johnny's gone for a soldier.

Me, oh my, I loved him so,
It broke my heart to see him go,
And only time will heal my woe,
Johnny's gone for a soldier.

Chorus

I sold my flax, I sold my my wheel,
To buy my love a sword of steel,
So it in battle, he may wield,
Johnny's gone for a soldier.

Chorus

Version 2

Here I sit on Buttermilk Hill
Who can blame me, cryin' my fill
And ev'ry tear would turn a mill,
Johnny has gone for a soldier.

Me, oh my, I loved him so,
Broke my heart to see him go,
And only time will heal my woe,
Johnny has gone for a soldier.

I'll sell my rod, I'll sell my reel,
Likewise I'll sell my spinning wheel,
And buy my love a sword of steel,
Johnny has gone for a soldier.

I'll dye my dress, I'll dye it red,
And through the streets I'll beg for bread,
For the lad that I love from me has fled,
Johnny has gone for a soldier.

Version 3 (Shule Agra)

With fife and drum he marched away
He would not heed what I did say
He'll not come back for many a day
Johnny has gone for a soldier.

Chorus
Shule, shule, shule agra
Sure, ah sure, and he loves me
When he comes back we'll married be
Johnny has gone for a soldier.

I'll go up on Portland Hill
And there I'll sit and cry my fill
And every tear should turn a mill
Johnny has gone for a soldier.

Chorus

I'll sell my rock, I'll sell my reel
I'll sell my flax and spinning wheel
To buy my love a sword of steel
Johnny has gone for a soldier.

Chorus

I'll dye my petticoats crimson red
Through the world I'll beg my bread
I'll find my love alive or dead
Johnny has gone for a soldier.

Chorus



Information and midi music courtesy of Lesley Nelson
Lyrics from Digital Tradition Folk Song Search