Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
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William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
 
The General Armstrong—1814
 
COME, all you sons of Liberty, that to the seas belong,
It’s worth your whole attention to listen to my song;
The history of a privateer I will detail in full,
That fought a “six-and-thirty” belonging to John Bull.
 
The General Armstrong she is called, and sailed from New York,        5
With all our hearts undaunted, once more to try our luck;
She was a noble vessel, a privateer of fame:
She had a brave commander, George Champlin was his name.
 
We stood unto the eastward, all with a favouring gale,
In longitude of fifty we spied a lofty sail:        10
Our mainsail being lower’d and foresail to repair,
Our squaresail being set, my boys, the wind it proved fair.
 
We very soon perceived the lofty ship to be
Bearing down upon us while we lay under her lee;
All hands we call’d, and sail did make, then spliced the main-brace,        15
Night coming on, we sail’d so fast, she soon gave up the chase.
 
Then to Barbadoes we were bound, our course so well did steer;
We cruised there for several days, and nothing did appear:
’Twas on the 11th of March, to windward of Surinam,
We spied a lofty ship, my boys, at anchor near the land;        20
All hands we call’d to quarters, and down upon her bore,
Thinking ’twas some merchant-ship then lying near the shore.
 
She quickly weighed anchor and from us did steer,
And setting her top-gallant sail as if she did us fear,
But soon we were alongside of her, and gave her a gun,        25
Determined to fight, my boys, and not from her to run.
 
We hoisted up the bloody flag and down upon her bore,
If she did not strike, my boys, no quarters we would show her;
Each man a brace of pistols, a boarding-pike and sword,
We’ll give her a broadside, my boys, before we do her board.        30
 
All hands at their quarters lay, until we came alongside,
And gave them three hearty cheers, their British courage tried.
The lower ports she had shut in, the Armstrong to decoy,
But quickly she her ports did show, to daunt each Yankee boy.
 
The first broadside we gave them true, their colours shot away,        35
Their topsail, haulyards, mizen rigging, main and mizen stay,
Two ports we did knock into one, his starboard quarter tore,
They overboard their wounded flung, while cannons loud did roar.
 
She wore directly round, my boys, and piped all hands on deck,
For fear that we would board and serve a Yankee trick;        40
To board a six-and-thirty it was in vain to try,
While the grape, round, and langrage, like hailstones they did fly.
 
Brave Champlin on the quarter-deck so nobly gave command:
“Fight on, my brave Americans, dismast her if you can.”
The round, grape, and star-shot so well did play,        45
A musket-ball from the maintop brave Champlin low did lay.
 
His wound was quickly dress’d, while he in his cabin lay;
The doctor, while attending, these words he heard him say,
“Our Yankee flag shall flourish,” our noble captain cried,
“Before that we do strike, my boys, we’ll sink alongside.”        50
 
She was a six-and-thirty, and mounted forty-two,
We fought her four glasses, what more then could we do;
Till six brave seamen we had kill’d, which grieved us full sore,
And thirteen more wounded lay bleeding in their gore.
 
Our foremast being wounded, and bowsprit likewise;        55
Our lower rigging fore and aft, and headstay beside;
Our haulyards, braces, bowling, and foretop sheet also,
We found we could not fight her, boys, so from her we did go.
 
Our foremast proving dangerous, we could not carry sail,
Although we had it fish’d and welded with a chain;        60
It grieved us to the heart to put up with such abuse,
For this damn’d English frigate has surely spoil’d our course.
 
Here’s success attend brave Champlin, his officers and men,
That fought with courage keen, my boys, our lives to defend;
We fought with much superior force, what could we do more?        65
Then haul’d our wind and stood again for Freedom’s happy shore.
 
 
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