When a cavalryman dies, he begins a long march to his ultimate destination. About half-way along the road he enters a broad meadow dotted with trees and crossed by many streams, known as “Fiddler’s Green”. As he crosses “The Green” he finds an old canteen, a single spur, and a carbine sling. Continuing on the road he comes to a field camp where he finds all the troopers who have gone before him, with their campfires, tents and picket lines neatly laid out. All other branches of the military must continue to march without pause. Cavalrymen though are authorized to dismount, unsaddle and stay in Fiddler’s Green…their canteens ever full…the grass always green, and enjoy the companionship and reminisce with old friends.
No one knows the exact origin of "Fiddler's Green". In the United States Army its concept seems to have been popular among 17th and 18th century sailors, soldiers, and masterless men of Europe, who knew that they would not qualify for Heaven, but trusted that a merciful God would agreed to their credo that, "To live hard, to die hard, and to go to Hell afterwards would be hard indeed."
An article in the 1925 Cavalry Journal may give some credence to its origin in the U.S. Cavalry and the fact that it may have occurred during the Indian Wars. "Fiddler's Green" was inspired by a story told quite sometime back by Captain "Sammy" Pearson at a camp-fire in the Medicine Bow Mountains of Wyoming. Having mentioned Fiddler's Green and found that no one appeared to have heard of it, Pearson indignantly asserted that every good cavalryman ought to know of Fiddler's green, and forthwith told this story:
"About half-way-way down the road to Hell there is a broad meadow dotted with trees and crossed by many streams. In this meadow, known as Fiddler's Green, is located an old Army Canteen (where liquor was sold), and near it are camped all the dead cavalrymen, with their tents, horses, picker line and campfires, around which the souls of the dead troopers gather to tell stories and exchange reminiscences.
No other branch of the service may stop at Fiddler's Green, but continue to march straight through to Hell. It is true that occasionally some trooper who has a longing, as most troopers have, for a change of station, packs his saddle, mounts his horse and continues his journey. But none of them has ever reached the gates of Hell; for, having emptied his canteen of liquor, he needs be returned to Fiddler's Green for a refill."