The U.S. Field Artillery March is a patriotic military march of the United States Army written in 1917 by John Philip Sousa, based on an earlier work by Edmund L. Gruber. The refrain (arranged here) is also known as The Caisson Song (And Those Caissons Go Rolling Along). (A caisson is a two-wheeled cart for carrying ammunition.) This song inspired the official song of the U.S. Army which is called The Army Goes Rolling Along, although the current official lyrics and arrangement of that song are substantially different from those written for this song in 1917.
In 1908, Edmund L. Gruber, who was an officer in an artillery regiment of the United States Army, conceived the idea of writing a song to celebrate the reunion of two portions of his regiment which had been long separated. Within minutes, he and his fellow officers wrote the words and music of The Caisson Song. When introduced at the reunion, it was enthusiastically received, and by the time World War I broke out, the song was freely and popularly sung in all areas of the Army.
In 1917, John Philip Sousa wrote the U. S. Field Artillery March in which he incorporated most, if not all, of The Caisson Song, which was then currently popular, not knowing that it was Gruber’s piece. (Sousa believed the piece was earlier, from the Civil War.) Army officers who were assigned to instruct community and group singing, used this song a great deal. There is some question whether this was an original musical composition by Gruber, but in 1942, a judge in a copyright dispute over the work settled the issue once and for all by ruling that Gruber was the composer and lyricist.
Gruber rose to the rank of brigadier general and died in active service in 1941. He had composed over a hundred songs for his own enjoyment and had not expected any of them to reach Tin Pan Alley. But this piece, used and arranged by John Philip Sousa, achieved a popularity beyond his wildest dreams. The time-honored manuscript of his original song now hangs in the library of the U.S. Army Artillery and Missile School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
Key: C major
Mood: Optimistic, determined, patriotic
Pedagogy: march rhythm, dotted-eighth-sixteenth rhythms