William McCarty, comp. The American National Song Book. 1842.
Capture of General Prescott
From the Plymouth Memorial1835
Almost every one is acquainted with the circumstances of the taking of General Prescott, then commanding officer of the British forces on Rhode Island, by Captain Barton of Providence. He was exchanged for General Lee, who had been previously captured by the British.
Shortly after his exchange he returned to Rhode Island, and was invited to dine on board the admirals ship, with many other officers of the highest grade. General Prescott was naturally a haughty, imperious man, and as a commander was very unpopular with his officers and soldiers, and with the citizens of Newport, but a brave and skilful officer.
It was often that boys as well as men were sent from the town on board the admirals ship for any offence, and confined there for some time, by the arbitrary authority of those in power. Martial law was the law of the place. A small lad, about thirteen years of age, was placed in this situation previous to General Prescotts return, and was on board, with many others, at the time the general dined there. He did not know General Prescott.
After dinner the wine circulated freely, and a toast and song were repeatedly called for. In the course of the evening the first lieutenant observed to the admiral, who was a real jolly son of Neptune, that there was a Yankee lad on board who would shame all the singing. Bring him up here, says Prescott. The boy was accordingly brought into the cabin. The admiral called on him to give them a song. The little fellow, being somewhat intimidated by gold-laced coats, epaulettes, &c., replied, I cant sing any songs but Yankee songs. The admiral, perceiving that he was embarrassed, ordered the steward to give him a glass of wine, saying, Come my little fellow, dont be frightened; give us one of your Yankee songs. General Prescott spoke in his usual haughty, imperious manner, You dd young rebel, give us a song or Ill give you a dozen. The admiral interfered, and assured the lad that he should be set at liberty the next day, if he would give them a songany one he could recollect.
The following doggerel, written by a sailor of Newport, was then given, to the great amusement of the company.
There was a general shout of all the company during the whole song, and at the close, one who was a prisoner on board, at the time, observed, he thought the deck would come through with the stamping and cheering.
General Prescott joined most heartily in the merriment. Thrusting his hand into his pocket, he handed the boy a guinea, saying, Here, you young dog, is a guinea for you. The boy was set at liberty the next morning.
This anecdote is often related by an aged gentleman living at Newport.