The Vacant Chair

    1862, Henry S. Washburn & George F. Root  (1820 – 1895)    [piano: Root & Cady]

            Sub-titled “We Shall Meet but We Shall Miss Him” the subject of the song is 18-year-old Lt. John William Grout of the 15th Mass. Vol. Inf. who was killed Oct. 21, 1861 at Balls Bluff. He was to receive his first furlough in a few weeks. Washburn, a guest in the Grout home for Thanksgiving, noted the unoccupied place at the dinner table and was moved to write the poem in honor of “Willie.” His friend G.F. Root set the poem to music and published it in 1862. The universality of the lyrics was evident as it was published in the South three times.


Vaillance Polka Militaire

18--, Joseph Ascher  (1829-1869)  [Squire's Cornet Band Olio, Set #2 1872]              See also:  Fanfare Militaire

            Vaillance is an interesting French word that defies simple English translation. The term means “valor” but has its root in “valiant.” There is an obscure noun-form of valiant, that being “valiancy.” The bottom of each page of one piano version is labeled “Congressional Polka.” Sheet music artwork usually depicts a cavalry bugler, in Hussar or Cavalier uniform. One has the bugler trailing a unit of mounted lancers.