The Legend of Fiddler's Green

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    Imagine if you will, a starry night in southwestern Oklahoma just after the Civil War. Nestled in the shadows of the Wichita Mountains is a battery of smoothbore cannon camped for the night. As the campfires dim and the flasks of rum and lemon are empty, the conversation turns to the life hereafer. A rugged, old chief of section is surprised to learn that all present have not heard of the special destiny of Redlegs. As the young artillerists listen intently, he shares with them the Legend of Fiddler's Green.

    The chief of section explains that the souls of the departed eventually end up in heaven or hell. Heaven lies about six miles down the dusty road to eternity, and Redlegs get there by turning left at the first crossroad. From this same junction, hell is about eight or nine miles straight ahead. The road's easy to identify, it's the one paved with good intentions. A little way down the road to hell there's a sign pointing to a trail that runs off to the right of the main road. It reads "Fiddler's Green -- Artillerymen Only."

    Then the chief of section teaches them the following poem:

    Halfway down the trail to hell,
    In a shady meadow green,
    Are the souls of many departed Redlegs.
    Camped near a good old-time canteen,
    And this eternal place
    Is known as Fiddler's Green.

    Though others must go down the trail,
    To seek a warmer scene,
    No Redleg ever goes to hell,
    Ere he's empties his canteen,
    And so returns to drink again
    With friends at Fiddler's Green.

    The campfires die out, and the Redlegs doze off to sleep, knowing Fiddler's Green awaits them and all thier cannon-cocking brethern in the life hereafter.

    United States Field Artillery Assoication

This page last updated: April 14, 2003

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