Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
Battle of Plattsburg
Tune—“Maggy Lauder”

SIR GEORGE PREVOST, with all his host,
  March’d forth from Montreal, sir,
Both he and they as blithe and gay
  As going to a ball, sir.
The troops he chose were all of those        5
  That conquer’d Marshal Soult, sir;
Who at Garonne (the fact is known)
  Scarce brought them to a halt, sir.
With troops like these, he thought with ease
  To crush the Yankee faction:        10
His only thought was how he ought
  To bring them into action.
“Your very names,” Sir George exclaims,
  “Without a gun or bayonet,
Will pierce like darts through Yankee hearts,        15
  And all their spirits stagnate.
“O! how I dread lest they have fled
  And left their puny fort, sir,
For sure Macomb won’t stay at home,
  T’ afford us any sport, sir.        20
Good bye!” he said to those that stay’d:
  “Keep close as mice or rats snug:
We’ll just run out upon a scout,
  To burn the town of Plattsburg.”
Then up Champlain with might and main        25
  He march’d, in dread array, sir;
With fife and drum to scare Macomb,
  And drive him quite away, sir.
And, side by side, their nation’s pride
  Along the current beat, sir:        30
Sworn not to sup till they ate up
  M’Donough and his fleet, sir.
Still onward came these men of fame,
  Resolved to give “no quarter:”
But to their cost found at last        35
  That they had caught a Tartar.
At distant shot a while they fought,
  By water and by land, sir:
His knightship ran from man to man,
  And gave his dread command, sir.        40
“Britons, strike home! this dog Macomb—
  So well the fellow knows us—
Will just as soon jump o’er the moon
  As venture to oppose us.
With quick despatch light every match,        45
  Man every gun and swivel,
Cross in a crack the Saranac,
  And drive ’em to the devil.”
The Vermont ranks that lined the banks,
  Then poised the unerring rifle,        50
And to oppose their haughty foes
  They found a perfect trifle.
Meanwhile the fort kept up such sport,
  They thought the devil was in it;
Their mighty train play’d off in vain—        55
  ’Twas silenced in a minute.
Sir George, amazed, so wildly gazed,
  Such frantic gambols acted,
Of all his men, not one in ten
  But thought him quite distracted.        60
He cursed and swore, his hair he tore,
  Then jump’d upon his poney,
And gallopp’d off towards the bluff,
  To look for Captain Downie.
But when he spied M’Donough ride,        65
  In all the pomp of glory,
He hasten’d back to Saranac,
  To tell the dismal story:
“My gallant crews—O! shocking news—
  Are all or killed or taken!        70
Except a few that just withdrew
  In time to save their bacon.
“Old England’s pride must now subside.
  O! how the news will shock her,
To have her fleet not only beat,        75
  But sent to Davy’s locker.
From this sad day let no one say
  Britannia rules the ocean:
We’ve dearly bought the humbling thought,
  That this is all a notion.        80
“With one to ten I’d fight ’gainst men,
  But these are Satan’s legions,
With malice fraught, come piping hot
  From Pluto’s darkest regions!
Helas! mon Dieu! what shall I do?        85
  I smell the burning sulphur—
Set Britain’s isle all rank and file,
  Such men would soon engulf her.
“That’s full as bad—O! I’ll run mad!
  Those western hounds are summon’d;        90
Gaines, Scott, and Brown are coming down,
  To serve me just like Drummond.
Thick, too, as bees, the Vermontese
  Are swarming to the lake, sir;
And Izard’s men, come back again,        95
  Lie hid in every brake, sir.
“Good Brisbane, beat a quick retreat,
  Before their forces join, sir:
For, sure as fate, they’ve laid a bait
  To catch us like Burgoyne, sir.        100
All round about, keep good look out:
  We’ll surely be surrounded.
Since I could crawl, my gallant soul
  Was never so astounded.”
The rout began, Sir George, led on,        105
  His men ran helter skelter,
Each tried his best t’ out-run the rest
  To gain a place of shelter;
To hide their fear they gave a cheer,
  And thought it mighty cunning—        110
He’ll fight say they, another day,
  Who saves himself by running!

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