I've often wondered of the origin of this tune. I've read an online discussion and some guessed it might be in reference to Fort Sackville (1777), Battle of Tippecanoe (1811), or St. Clair's defeat (1791). I initially wondered about the latter event but if any of them, the syncopated melody seems to imply that, if it refers to any of those events, it certainly seems that it must've been in retrospect, decades after those events. Someone tied it to Emmett. I think the first printing I've heard was in an early 1860s fife/drum manual. With all that said, does anyone have any further insights?
Emmett had learned fifing during his time in the army in the 1830's, so he may have know the tune from then.
But, in your opinion, wouldn't you think the syncopated melody likely points to an origin after the popularity of the minstrel genre? Maybe this type of syncopation does not necessarily coincide with mid-19th C and I need to adjust my assumptions.
I'll do some poking around and see if I can find earlier related tunes and get back with you.
I would say that the syncopation for this is typical of Irish and Scottish music. Yes, there is the 16th note lead in at the beginning of the phrases, but then you have the staccato marks over the notes immediately following which are on the beat and emphasize those notes. I don't really see an off beat syncopation which you tend to see more in minstrel type tunes. This is a marching aire, with the emphasis on the beat. I've always loved this tune.