MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
The Heights of Alma
Cyril O'Brien NFLD 2 Tape 10A Track 8
Trepassey Audio:

Ye loyal sons pray lend an ear
To these few lines that I’ve written here
And joyous hearts do Britain cheer
For the Victory gained at Alma

It was on September the eighteenth day
And in spite of the salt seats dashing spray
We landed safe in the Crimay [i.e. Crimea]
All on our march for Alma

All Right we lay on the cold ground
No tent or shelter to be found
By pouring rain we were almost drowned
To cheer our heart’s for Alma

Next morning the burning sun did rise
Beneath a cloudless eastern sky
Our General chief Lord Raglan cried
Prepare to march on Alma

When the Alma it hove in view
The stoutest hearts it would subdue
To see those Russians camped in view
All on the height's of Alma

While we their battery strove to gain
Their bullets fell as thick as rain
Many a hero there was slain
All on the heights of Alma

And when the heights we did command
We fought the Russians hand to hand
Those Russian foes they could not stand
Our English charge at Alma


Sources: Laws J10; Roud 830; Ford-Vagabond, 249-51; Gardner/Chickering 90; Leach 1965: 150 (Battle of Alma); Peacock, 1965: 1000; SHenry H123: 90. From the Memorial University Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA) Song Index and Song Annotation Collection: MacEachern, Ronald MUNFLA 75-75; Wareham, Wilf MUNFLA 79-54

History: Please see the Traditional Ballad Index ( for extensive historical notes. This song is in reference to the battles on the Alma River between the English/French and the Russians on September 14 and 20, 1854. This version of the song notes the landing on the September 18th instead on the 14th. However this variant does correct other versions by taking note of the rain and lack of shelter for the British troops on the night prior to the march. The Traditional Ballad Index credits James Maxwell as the author of this song with the earliest publication date as 1904.

Text: A soldier’s account of the English victory over the Russians at the Battle of Alma. This variant is less detailed than others.

Tune: The text is through composed and the melody repeats with each verse. The meter is 2/4 and the Key is C major.

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