Benny Havens, Oh!

Words by: Lucius O'Brien, John T. Metcalfe (USMA 1838), Ripley A. Arnold (USMA 1838), et. al.

Music by: Traditional

Listen to the song with RealPlayer, Windows Media Player, or MP3 Player
Requires javascript and audio plug-in/application

Come fill your glasses, fellows, and stand up in a row,
(Come, tune your voices, comrades, and stand up in a row,)
To singing sentimentally, we're going for to go,
In the army there's sobriety, promotion's very slow,
So we'll sing our reminiscences of Benny Havens, oh!

Let us toast our foster-father, the Republic, as you know,
Who in the paths of science taught us upward for to go;
And the maidens of our native land, whose cheeks like roses glow,
They're oft remembered in our cups, at Benny Havens, oh!

Of the lovely maids, with virgin lips, like roses dipped in dew,
   (Of the smile-wreathed maids whose virgin lips like roses dipped with dew,)
Who are to be our better halves, we'd like to take a view.
   (Who are to be our better halves, we'd like a better view.)
But sufficient to the bridal day is the ill of it, you know,
So we'll cheer our hearts with chorusing at Benny Havens, oh!

To the ladies of our Army our cups shall ever flow,
Companions of our exile, and our shield 'gainst every woe;
May they see their husbands Generals, with double pay, also,
And join us in our choruses at Benny Havens, oh!

'Tis said by commentators, when to other worlds we go,
We follow the same handicraft we did in this below;
If this be true philosophy - the sexton he says "No" -
What days of song and dance we'll have at Benny Havens, oh!

To our regiments, now fellows, we all must shortly go,
We must cultivate the graces, do everything "just so"
And look as sage as parsons when they talk of what's below;
And never speak to ears polite of Benny Havens, oh!

To the ladies of the orange clime, let all our bumpers flow;
Who dares gainsay their peerless charms must take a knightly blow.
We'll throw the gauntlet in their cause and taunt the soulless foe
Who hesitates to drink to them at Benny Havens, oh!

To the ladies of the Empire state, whose hearts and albums too,
Bear sad remembrance of the wrongs we stripling soldiers do,
We bid a fond adieu, my boys; our hearts with sorrow flow;
   (We bid a fond adieu, boys; best recompense we know;)
Our loves and rhyming had their source at Benny Havens, oh!

And when in academic halls, to summer hops we go,
And thread the mazes of the dance on the light fantastic toe,
We look into those sunny eyes, where youth and pleasure glow,
And think ourselves within the walls of Benny Havens, oh!

'Tis a proverb that "Republics to their veterans thankless grow,"
And to a youth of service oft awards an age of woe;
   (That a youth of gallant services brings but an age of woe;)
But if a lowly station most honor doth bestow
   (So if a civil station most honor doth bestow)
Give me the one now occupied by Benny Havens, oh!

Let us remember, comrades, when to our posts we go,
   (Let's remember, gallant comrades, as to our posts we go,)
The ties that must be cut in twain, as o'er life's sea we row,
Hearts that now throb in unison must moulder down below,
So let us take a parting cup at Benny Havens, oh!

You veterans on the "half pay list" in quiet ease should go,
And suffer no subalterns up a grade or two to row,
Award each State a regiment of Regulars, you know -
Their officers are chosen ones from Benny Havens, oh!

May we never lack a smile for friend, nor sternest heart for foe;
May all our paths be pleasantness wherever we may go;
May our "Muster-rolls" in after years report in status quo,
And goodly samples ever bring from Benny Havens, oh!

May the Army be augmented, promotion be less slow;
May our country in the hour of need be ready for the foe;
May we find a soldier's resting-place beneath a soldier's blow,
With space enough beside our graves for Benny Havens, oh!

And if amid the battle's shock our banner e'er should trail,
And hearts that beat beneath its folds shall faint or basely fail,
   (And hearts that beat beneath its folds should turn or basely quail,)
Then may some son of Benny's with quick avenging blow,
Lift up the flag we loved so well at Benny Havens, oh!

From the courts of death and danger, from Tampa's deadly shore,
There comes a wail of manly grief, "O'Brien is no more",
In the land of sun and flowers his head lies pillowed low,
No more he'll sing "Petite Coquette" or "Benny Havens, oh!"

When you, and I, and Benny, and General Jackson, too,
   (When you and I and Benny, and all the others, too,)
Are called before the "final board" our course of life to view,
May we never "fess" on any point, but straight be told to go
   (May we never "fess" on any point but "coldly max it throught,")
And join the Army of the Blest with Benny Havens, oh!

Come fill up to our Generals, God bless the brave heroes,
They're an honor to their country, and a terror to their foes;
May they long rest on their laurels and troubles never know,
But live to see a thousand years at Benny Havens, oh!

Here's a health to General Taylor, whose "rough and ready" blow
   (To General Taylor's memory, whose rough and ready blow)
Struck terror to the rancheros of braggart Mexico;
May his country ne'er forget his deeds and ne'er forget to show
She holds him worthy of a place at Benny Havens, oh!

To the "veni, vidi, vici" man, Scott, the great hero,
Fill up the goblet to the brim, let no one shrinking go;
May life's cares on his honored head fall light as flakes of snow,
And his fair fame be ever great at Benny Havens, oh!

To our comrades who have fallen, one cup before we go,
They poured their life-blood freely out pro bono publico;
No marble points the stranger to where they rest below,
They lie neglected far away from Benny Havens, oh!

Now Roe's Hotel's a perfect "fess", and Cozzen's all the go,
And officers as thick as hops infest "The Falls" below;
But we'll slip them all so quietly, as once a week we go
To toast the lovely flower that blooms at Benny Havens, oh!

To the Army's brave commanders let now our glasses flow
We'll drink to Grant and Sherman and to the "subs" also,
To Thomas, Meade and Sheridan (these come in a propos),
We'll toast them all with goblets full at Benny Havens, oh!
   (Who hesitates to drink to them at Benny Havens, oh!)

To our kind old Alma Mater, our rock-bound Highland home,
We'll cast back many a fond regret, as o'er life's sea we roam,
Until on our last battlefield the lights of Heaven shall glow,
We'll never fail to drink to her and Benny Havens, oh!

Another star has faded, we miss its brilliant glow,
For the veteran Scott has ceased to be a soldier here below;
And the country which he honored now feels a heartfelt woe,
As we toast his name in reverence at Benny Havens, oh!

When this life's troubled sea is o'er, and our last battle's through,
If God permits us mortals then His blest domain to view,
Then shall we see with glory crowned, in proud celestial row,
The friends we've known and loved so well at Benny Havens, oh!

Here's a cup to brave McKinney, and all who like him die,
Their souls upon the battle smoke ascend the upper sky;
May the angels there attend him and show him where to go
And join his comrades gone before, with Benny Havens, oh!

In silence lift your glasses: a meteor flashes out,
So swift to death, brave Custer, amid the battle's shout.
Death called - and crowned, he went to join the friends of long ago,
To the land of Peace, where now he dwells with Benny Havens, oh!

We drop a tear for Harrington, and his comrades, Custer's braves,
Who fell with none to see the deeds that glorified their graves.
May their memory live forever, with their glory's present glow;
They've nobly earned the right to dwell with Benny Havens, oh!

Come, fellows, let us join once more, ere to our homes we go,
And give a parting requiem to "Benny Havens, oh!"
Our fathers worship'd at his shrine, in days long, long ago,
Then why should we, their faithful sons, not love our "Havens, oh".

The spirit of the olden gray, with boys, 'tis folly, true;
But then it proves "Esprit de Corps" when clothed in Army blue.
Then in the path our fathers trod let us not fail to go;
If it leads to fame and glory - or to Benny Havens, oh!

Their names shall sacred to us be for deeds done long ago;
For they are graved with gold and red on azure blue you know;
And as on us their mantles fell, our gratitude we'll show,
By life remembrances of them and Benny Havens, oh!

Genial Barbour, the brave Mudge and Inge, oft went through drifted snow,
To have an hour's pleasant chat, and make their spirits flow.
Clay, Crittenden and legions more, could never give a NO,
When asked to share the friendly cheer of Benny Havens, oh!

Did Arngold's flying battery e'er make its aim to low -
Did Duncan's ready howitzers e'er fail to reach the foe -
Did Canby brave, or Custer bold, e'er dread Modoc or Sioux -
Because of dark or moonlight raids on Benny Havens, oh!

From Nevada's hoary ridges, from stormy coast of Maine,
From the lava beds and Yellowstone the story never waned:
Wherever duty called they went, their steps were never slow -
With "Alma Mater" on their lips, and Benny Havens, oh!

Their blood has watered Western plains and Northern wilds of snow,
Has stained Sierra's highest peaks, where piercing winds e'er blow,
Has dyed deep red the Everglades, and deeper still, you know,
The sacred Montezuma shades and walls of Mexico.

But now the soften'd summer winds come whisp'ring to us low,
That he of whom we oft have sung, Death's hand lies on his brow.
These granite hills surrounding us, by sun all set aglow,
May they be guardian angels to our Benny Havens, oh!

They may lead no front line regiment to face the blazing steel,
But they mold the gallant officers who win the victors' seal;
They devote their martial talent to the men who'll stem the foe;
And we know their souls will surely rest with Benny Havens, oh!1

Our halls are rich with trophies that have graciously been brought
By a nebula of athletes who've graced the fields of sport.
May their skill and courage aid them when they face the mortal foe
That they may march triumphantly to Benny Havens, oh!1

Every year new sons of West Point join the everlasting Corps
To maintain the lofty prestige of the ideals they adore,
For each living member wins acclaim wherever he may go;
And all at last lie peacefully with Benny Havens, oh!1

To Ripley Arnold, fellows, who rests here by the flow:
His shadow lies across this fort when evening sun gets low.
If you listen when its very quiet, you may hear his "Forward-Ho!"
So we'll sing his reminiscences of Benny Havens, oh!2

Salute the major, fellows, our pride in him we show;
In meeting all adversity, straight-arrow he was so.
As Duty--Honor--Country helped Fort Worth begin to grow.
So we'll sing his reminiscences of Benny Havens, oh!2
Back to Top

Note: About a hundred verses are extant, but only forty were considered worthy of the singing in days gone by. The singing of all these verses has grown out of use, until now we ordinarily sing only three (1, 14, and 24).

Sources: The 1919 Howitzer (Class of June 1918), West Point in the Early Sixties by Joseph P. Farley (USMA 1861), West Point Scrap Book by Oliver E. Wood (USMA 1867), West Point Life: A Poem by Horace Porter (USMA 1860), The 1944 Howitzer (1), The Army-TCU Football weekend, sung by The Class of 1951 at a ceremony for Ripley Arnold on 19 October 2001 (2), West Point Sketch Book by Ernie Webb, John D. Hart, and James E. Foley, and The Centennial of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York by Edward S. Holden.

From the liner notes of the West Point Music record album (courtesy Lew Higinbotham '62):
This song, perpetuating the fame of early West Point's dispenser of spirituous cheer had its inception, properly enough, in Benny Havens' own tavern under the cliffs of Highlands Falls. In 1838, one Lt. Lucius O'Brien, celebrating his transfer from staff to line duty, visited Benny's inn and there wrote and sang the first few verses of the song to the tune of "The Wearing of the Green". This historic moment is depicted in the colorful mural in the Benny Havens Room of the West Point Army Mess.

Text only version for easier printing.

Benny Havens, Oh!

Back to Songs