Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
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William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
 
Loss of the Privateer Brigantine General Armstrong
By Philip Freneau (1752–1832)
 
          Captain Samuel C. Reid, of New York, which sailed from Sandy Hook, on a cruise, the 9th of September, 1814, and on the 26th came to anchor in the road of Fayal, one of the Azores, or Western Islands, a neutral port belong to the crown of Portugal. She anchored in that port for the purpose of procuring a supply of fresh water, when she was attacked by the British ship of war Plantagenet, of seventy-four guns, Captain Lloyd; the Rota frigate of thirty-six guns, and the armed national brig Carnation, of eighteen guns, and many barges of considerable force, all of which she repulsed with an immense slaughter, and was then scuttled and sunk by order of Captain Reid, to prevent her falling into the hands of the enemy.

THE ARMSTRONG arrived in the port of Fayal,
And her actions of valour we mean to recall;
Brave Reid, her commander, his valorous crew,
The heroes that aided, his officers, too.
        Shall it fall to their lot        5
        To be basely forgot?
O, no! while a bard has a pen to command
Their fame shall resound through American land.
 
In the road of Fayal, when their anchors were cast,
The British were watching to give them a blast;        10
Not far from the port, for destruction sharp set,
Lay the Rota, Carnation, and Plantagenet:
        With a ship of the line
        Did a frigate combine,
And a brig of great force, with her boats in the rear,        15
To capture or burn one New York privateer!
 
Four boats from the brig were despatch’d in great haste,
And onward they came of the Armstrong to taste;
To taste of her powder, to taste of her ball,
To taste of the death she must hurl on them all!        20
        They came in great speed,
        And with courage, indeed,
Well mann’d, and well arm’d—so they got alongside,
Destruction their motto, damnation their guide.
 
Now the Armstrong, with vengeance, had open’d her fire,        25
And gave them as much as they well could desire;
A score of them fell—full twenty fell dead—
Then “quarters!” they cried, and disgracefully fled:
        To their ships they return’d
        Half shatter’d and burn’d—        30
Not quite in good humour, perhaps in a fret,
And waited new orders from Plantagenet.
 
Then the Armstrong haul’d in, close abreast of the beach,
So near, that a pistol the castle would reach;
And there she awaited the rest of their plan,        35
And there they determined to die to a man,
        Ere the lords of the waves,
        With their sorrowful slaves,
The tyrants who claim the command of the main,
With strength, though superior, their purpose should gain.        40
 
And now the full moon had ascended the sky,
Reid saw by her light that the British were nigh:
The bell of Fayal told the hour—it was nine—
When the foe was observed to advance in a line;
        They manœuvred a while,        45
        With their brig, in great style,
Till midnight approach’d, when they made their attack,
Twelve boats full of men, and the brig at their back;
 
They advanced to the conflict as near as they chose,
When the Armstrong her cannon discharged on her foes;        50
The town of Fayal stood aghast in amaze,
The Armstrong appear’d like all hell in a blaze!
        At the blast of Long Tom
        The foe was struck dumb:
O Lord! are the sons of old England alarm’d?        55
With music like this they were formerly charm’d!
 
Huzza for old England! three cheers and a damn!
And up to the conflict they manfully came;
On the bows and the quarters they grappled a hold,
And “board” was the word in those barges so bold;        60
But board they could not—to no devil she strikes,
So the Armstrong repelled them with pistols and pikes;
        From her musketry fire
        They by dozens expire:
And soon was the work of destruction complete,        65
And soon was determined their total defeat!
 
Three hundred brave fellows were wounded and kill’d,
Their boats and their barges with slaughter were fill’d;
With shame they retreated, the few that remain’d
To tell the event of the battle—not gain’d:        70
        Their commander-in-chief
        Was astounded with grief!
“Don’t grieve, my good fellows,” he hail’d them, “I beg;
I, too, have my wounds—an ox trod on my leg!”
 
But to save the stout Armstrong, even Reid could not do—        75
A ship of the line, with a frigate in tow!
A brig of their navy accoutred for war!
All this was too much for e’en Yankees to dare:
        So he scuttled his bark—
        Nor need we remark        80
That she sunk on the sands by the beach of Fayal,
With her colours all flying—no colours could fall.
 
Of neutrals what nonsense some tell us each day!
Exists there a neutral where Britain has sway?
The rights of a neutral!—away with such stuff,        85
What neutral remains that can England rebuff?
        To be safe from disgrace,
        The deep seas are our place;
The flag of no neutral our flag can defend,
By ourselves we must fight, on ourselves must depend.        90
 
Now in bumpers of reason, success to brave Reid!
Himself and his heroes are heroes indeed!
In conquests like this, can an Englishman glory,
One traitor among us, one Halifax tory?
        If they can—let them brag—        95
        Here’s success to our flag!
May it ever be ready the Britons to maul,
As the Armstrong behaved in the road of Fayal.
 
 
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