Army Blue

The lyrics of this version are frequently adapted, but the first couple of verses and the chorus tend to be stable. The following quote is taken from a document entitled Cadet Required Knowledge, which I found at the site of West Point Military Academy:

“Army Blue” is the traditional tune played for “Graduating Class, Front and Center, March” when the First Class steps out of ranks for the final time as cadets, and also played for the last dance at all hops. It had its beginning as the song of the Class of 1865. The first stanzas were written by L. W. Becklaw and the tune is that of an old minstrel song, “Aura Lea.” As years passed, innumerable verses were added to this and only a few of the more renowned can be presented…


We’ve not much longer here to stay,

For in a month or two,

We’ll bid farewell to “Cadet Gray,”

And don the “Army Blue.”


Army Blue, Army Blue,

Hurrah for the Army Blue,

We’ll bid farewell to “Cadet Gray,”

And don the “Army Blue.”

Victor 17500-B; Army Blue (West Point Song); record label

Army Blue was the first version of Aura Lea to be recorded commercially. This was done on 25 November 1913 by the American Quartet. The Quartet consisted of Steve Porter (baritone), William F. Hooley (bass), and Bill Murray and Robert D. Armour (both tenors).

The number was released on Victor 17500, with matrix number B-14118/2. The label on the 10" record shows the title as Army Blue with the subtitle of West Point Song.

The recording last 2 minutes and fifty-one seconds and the song is taken at a brisk pace, though this might also have been how Aura Lea was originally intended to have been sung, as is indicated in the original sheet music.

The full track is available at the Library of Congress National Jukebox site (you might need Flash, however).

Here’s a 30-second sample, should you prefer:

© David Neale 2020