Garry Owen was the unofficial marching song of the Seventh Cavalry. Gen. Custer reportedly heard the song among his Irish troop and liked it. The tune was then played so often the 7th became tied to it.
The tune is first documented as Auld Bessy in 1788. It was later (1800) in the opera Harlequin Amulet (the Majic of Mona). About that time it was attributed to “Jackson of Cork” in a book of Country Dances by William Campbell. It also appeared in part two of Nathaniel Gow’s four volume Complete Repository of the Original Scotch Slow Tunes (1802) .
Let Bacchus’ sons be not dismayed
But join with me, each jovial blade
Come, drink and sing and lend your aid
To help me with the chorus:
Instead of spa, we’ll drink brown ale
And pay the reckoning on the nail;
No man for debt shall go to jail
From Garryowen in glory.
We’ll beat the bailiffs out of fun,
We’ll make the mayor and sheriffs run
We are the boys no man dares dun
If he regards a whole skin.
Our hearts so stout have got no fame
For soon ’tis known from whence we came
Where’er we go they fear the name
Of Garryowen in glory.
Winstock, Lewis, Songs & Music of the Redcoats, 1642–1902, (1970)
Wood, Walter, The Romance of Regimental Marches, (1932)