Bonaparte's Retreat

As played by Eck Robertson from the Texas region

March in D

From the Eck Robertson Collection

3 files for this tune:

Melody-Only Transcription (PDF)
Full Transcription (PDF)


Field Recording Released on Album Eck Robertson: Famous Cowboy Fiddler (download the album here, or just the MP3 of Bonaparte's Retreat at


This is a very interesting version of Bonaparte's Retreat from Texas fiddler extraordinare Eck Robertson.  It seems to fall somewhere between the common march variant of Bonaparte's Retreat and the breakdown version promulgated by Kentucky fiddler William Stepp.  Robertson played Stepp's long strings of eighth notes, both low and high, but rather than use Stepp's pulsing bowing pattern, it sounds as if Robertson played them all with sawstrokes (which is perhaps consistent with the Texas style). 

Robertson apparently connected this tune with the Civil War somehow, as he introduced it by saying "I'm gonna play Bonaparte's Retreat, one of the oldest tunes of the Civil War days."  I would expect Robertson to know a thing or two about the Civil War, as he played (and recorded) with a fiddler Henry C. Gilliland, who was a Confederate veteran.

Tune to DDAD, with the lowest D an octave below the next D.

This tune is a member of the following groups:

Bonaparte's Retreat


Texas Fiddle

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