—— folk family and jam

Young trooper

Young trooper (cut down in his prime)

. RA, Western, 2008

As I was a walking down by the Royal Arsenal
Early the morning though warm was the day
When who should I see, one of my comrades
All wrapped up in linen and cold as the clay

Then beat the drum lowly and play the fife slowly
Sound the dead march as you carry me along
And fire your bondooks right over my coffin
I'm a young trooper cut down in his prime

The bugles were playing, his mates were a-prayin
The chaplain was kneeling down by his bed
His poor hand was aching, his poor heart was breaking 
He was a trrooper cut down in his prime

Get six of my comrades to carry my coffin
Six of my comrades to carry me along  
Get six young maidens to carry white roses
So's they won't smell me as they pass me by

Outside of the barracks you'll find two girls standing
And one to the other she whispers and says
There goes the young swaddy whose poor life we've squandered
There goes the young trooper cut down in his prime.

On the cross by his grave you will find these words written
All you young troopers take a warning by me
Keep away from them flash girls that walk in the city
Flash girls in the city have quite ruined me

From  Ewan MacColl.  I can see that the text is (almost) an exact copy of Ewan MacColl's version, so that must be it.
There is a version (late 18th century) with a verse
Had she but told me when she did disorder me
Had she but told me about it in time
I might have got salts and pills of white mercury
But now I'm cut down in the height of my prime.
Which certainly makes it plain what the disorder is.
So this is one of the big family of songs - Streets of Laredo, St James Infirmary being just two examples.  Look at the first lines of Streets of Laredo.   The original of the song seems to be about a soldier who's dying of gonorrhea or syphilis or something else or both that he has contracted from the city's prostitutes.  This is one of the songs where that origin (if it truly is that) is most obvious.

The theory is that original songs get toned down, details flattened out, and things changed round to fit a new audience without perhaps taking care of all the details.  Which is why (says the theory) the lyrics of St James and Streets of Laredo are slightly puzzling.