"Wham Bam Thank You Ma'am"

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Wed Oct 23 12:46:28 UTC 2002

In a message dated 10/23/02 3:50:44 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
slang at BLUEYONDER.CO.UK writes:

> On the same page he also mentions that the phrase or variants of it is in,
>  but doesn't quote,
>  William M. Camp 'Retreat, Hell' (1943) 524
>  Heggen & Logan 'Mr. Roberts' [play]

"Mr. Roberts" was originally a book by Thomas Heggen, published 1946, based
on Heggen's experiences on the USS Virgo (how's that for the name of a Navy
ship?).  In 1948 it became the play of the same name, script by Heggen and
Joshua Logan, and in 1955 the movie of the same name, script by Logan and
Frank Nugent.  I have seen all three, but not recently, so I can't say how
much of the dialogue is carried over from the book to the play and from the
play to the movie.

I never heard of a book called "Retreat, Hell".  That catch-phrase however is
from the Civil War, having been used during a council of war during the
Battle of Stone's River (December 1862) by General George Henry Thomas.  I
have seen several variations of what General Thomas said, but all agree on
the first two sentences.  My favorite variation, based on the fact that
Thomas fell asleep in the meeting, is "Retreat, Hell.  The Army of the
Cumberland doesn't retreat.  It just goes back to sleep."

       - Jim Landau

More information about the Ads-l mailing list