Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
The Siege of Baltimore
By Angus Umphraville (b. 1797?)
“Ah monarchs! did ye know the mirth ye mar,
Not in the toils of glory would ye fret,
The hoarse dull drum would sleep,
And man be happy yet!”
Lord Byron’s Childe Harold.    

  PROUD Britain claim’d the wide domain
  Of Ocean’s deep and vasty plain,
  And while her crosses she unfurl’d,
  Thunder’d defiance to the world.
  While Europe own’d the mighty war,        5
  Columbia, peaceful midst the jar,
  A friend to all, a foe to none,
  She traded peacefully alone.
  Britain beheld the tranquil dame,
  And fear’d a rival to her fame.        10
  “And shall her sons contentment know,
  While Europe I have fill’d with wo?
  No! the lost world will I regain,
  Her sailors press, her commerce chain,
  All mine shall be the subject main!”        15
  She spake, heaved high her haughty breast,
  Fill’d with ambition, void of rest.
  She comes! the proud invader comes
  To waste our country, spoil our homes,
  To lay our towns and cities low,        20
  And bid our mothers’ tears to flow,
  Our wives lament, our orphans weep,
  To seize the empire of the deep!—
  Her annual circuit of the sun
  Now twice the ensanguined earth had run,        25
  Since ruthless War’s destructive brand
  Had scatter’d horrors o’er the land.
  Whence is this universal grief?
  Declare, O Muse! in record brief:
  Their own the British legions call        30
  Columbia’s infant capital!
  And, Potomac, thy blushing stream
  Views the red flames’ guilty beam
  Spread over Washington its gleam.
  Suspense flies from her fatal shore        35
  And hovers over Baltimore,
  For active war against the foe,
  Her sons, the sons of freedom show.
  Wilt thou to proud invaders yield
  The bloodless, undisputed field?        40
  Soon shall thy loud artillery speak;
  Thou art not fearful, sad, or weak,
  Thou granary of the Chesapeake!
“O Heaven! when swords for Freedom shine,
            The cause is thine!
Edge doubly every patriot’s blow!
Beat down the banners of the foe!
And be it to the nations known,
That victory is from God alone!”
Walter Scott’s Lord of the Isles.    

  THE SONS of Freedom, patriot hearts!
  To Baltimore, from various parts,        45
  At the first summons, quickly came
  To save from desolation’s flame
  The pride of fertile Maryland,
  From British lust, and sword, and brand.
  A valiant host, no fear they knew,        50
  Their arms were good, their hearts were true,
  They burn’d their foemen’s ranks to view.
  Clouds veil’d the sun, whose feeble ray
  But feebly told the dusky day;
  Dark was that day, in portent dark!        55
  A gloom surrounds each British bark;
  The red-cross’d banner downward hung
  Nor proud as erst to wild wind flung.
  Surprised, the British legions gazed,
  Their hosts the intrenchments long amazed,        60
  The labour’d line extending round,
  Baltimore completely bound,
  No circumvolving walls surround,
  Its guards were noble hearts and bold,
  Who freedom prized ’bove tempting gold.        65
  What mighty works can men perform,
  Who nobly face the rudest storm,
  Who, fearless of the lion’s might,
  Dare for their independence fight!
  Valiant in arms, wise in debate,
  In councils eloquent and great,
      Victorious Smith presides;
  Commander of Columbia’s arms,
  His soul inured to war’s alarms,
      Through all the storm he rides.        75
  O’er Fort McHenry, waving wide,
  Floats loved Columbia’s starry pride,
  In dalliance waving seem’d to say,
  “Columbia owns this glorious day!”
  Brave Armstead, Baltimoreans’ boast!
  With his alert, undaunted host,
  Sustain’d the British cannonade,
  And well the British bombs repaid.
  Cities for thee, O warrior bold!
  Shall shape in gratitude’s gay mould        85
  Their sculptured urns of burnish’d gold.
While through dark clouds the mimic thunders dart,
Ah! what forebodings swell’d each mother’s heart!
  Bursting on earth, and now on high,
  Red fuses seem’d to fire the sky,        90
  The deep-mouth’d cannon’s horrid roar
  Shook all the walls of Baltimore.
Death could not daunt the purpose brave,
  Of those who fought the town to save,
  Dauntless amid the bloody strife,        95
  We fought for Freedom, not for life.
Dearly their lives our brothers sell,
  For each, three British warriors fell.
  The astonish’d British back recoil’d,
  Repulsed with death, fatigued, and foil’d,        100
  Vainly their daring hosts had toil’d.
  Proud of their scarlet coats no more,
  How many soldiers, bathed in gore,
  Lay stretch’d upon the fatal plain
  Among the wounded and the slain!        105
Vainly for them fond anxious mothers weep,
Or beauteous maidens gaze the mighty deep.
Viewing with painful joy each swelling sail,
Hoping their love’s return with every gale.
Bright expectation smiles with dawn of light,        110
Dull disappointment sheds her tears at night.
The yoke of British sovereign’s sway
  Ne’er on Columbia’s neck shall lay,
  While Jehovah conservates
  The union of the happy states.        115
And should a foreign despot dare
  His thunders to our land to bear,
  And pour his armies, hostile hosts,
  On our Columbia’s honour’d coasts—
  When they insult our country’s shore,        120
  Our sons shall think—of Baltimore.
“Now from the dark artillery broke.
Lightning flash and thunder stroke;
And volumed clouds of fiery smoke
    Roll in the darken’d air.”

HARK! the sound of clattering arms
Assail the heart with dire alarms;
The deep-mouth’d cannon’s thundering sound,
The echoing hills repeat around!        125
The sword, impatient of its prey,
Disdains the sun’s reflected ray!
The glittering muskets from afar
Declare thy presence, baleful War!
O! ’tis the murderous cannon’s roar!
  See! ’tis the musket’s lightning flash!
Carnage now dyes her feet in gore—
  War’s loudest thunders crash!
O Britain! wail that fatal day,
  When on North-Point’s impurpled field        135
The armies meet in dire array—
  One must not be, or yield.
Her stars exalting to the sky,
Columbia’s blue-striped ensign high
Waves in graceful dalliance gay,        140
And claims the honours of the day.
See! long extends the British line,
Their burnish’d arms refulgent shine;
Troops of the Wellingtonian school!
Ne’er shall your princely regent’s rule,        145
Or foreign monarch’s scepter’d sway
Columbia’s freeborn sons obey.
Though proud in arms, inured to war,
You’ve spread the fame of England far,
And from Napoleon’s brilliant reign        150
Deliver’d France, and rescued Spain,
Restored to Bourbon’s race again.
Free as the air we breathe our birth,
Despising monarchs form’d of earth,
Our king, the King of kings alone—        155
Eternal his celestial throne!
And, since ye dare us to the fight,
Confiding in our Sovereign’s might,
Europe on North Point’s plain shall see
Britannia’s choicest heroes flee        160
Before the children of the free,
Who gain’d by arms prized Liberty!
Retreat! ye myrmidons—retreat!
This land is Freedom’s chosen seat,
These are the sons of those who fought        165
For independence, when ye sought
By force of arms, by murder, flame,
To fill our land with grief and shame,
To blast our glory, blast our fame,
And blot our Washington’s bright name!        170
But say, who is this warrior bold,
In scarlet coat, adorn’d with gold,
Whose gaudy epaulets shine bright?—
Calmly he contemplates the fight.
It is the British General Ross,
He glories in his country’s cross,
And, vows to take rich Baltimore,
And bid her streets to reek with gore;
And while her widow’d matrons sigh,
To plant his monarch’s ensign high.        180
He knows not now, with pride elate,
The stern decree of ruthless fate!
But plans our blest Fredonia’s fall,
And slavery’s shackles to recall.
See! as his hardy host advances,
Proudly his conscious charger prances,
While to his aids, drawn sword in hand,
He issues forth his high command.
But soon the vengeful bullet flies;
The wounded warrior falls and dies!        190
The fate ordain’d for Liberty,
O boaster! that has fallen on thee.
A youth, who wore our uniform,
Press’d through the midst of battle’s storm,
And at the haughty Briton foe        195
Aimed the ball which laid him low.
The British army saw its general slain,
And then, disorder’d, fled the fatal plain.
So proud Philistia’s champion died;
A shepherd check’d a nation’s pride;        200
Goliath slain by David’s hand,
The gentiles fled the Holy Land.
Fly! ye perfidious crosses, fly!
Ye wave not under genial sky;
Here no traitorous airs e’er can        205
Victorious profanation fan.
Among our country’s soldiers brave,
Who found on North Point’s plain a grave,
The mournful muse in tears must tell,
’Twas there the gallant Lowry fell!        210
And yet she smiles amidst her tears,
While record of his worth she bears;
While bursting thunders o’er him sped,
He sought the raging battle’s bed,
Columbia’s flag waved o’er his head,        215
And thus her gallant Lowry said:
“Patriot soldiers—follow me—
Die like heroes—or be free!
Forward—death or victory!”
As flint-stone sharply struck on steel,
Our soldiers heard the chief’s appeal;
His voice a confidence inspires;
They crush’d the foe—amidst whose fires
The heroic Donaldson expires.
Pride of the senate, of the bar,        225
Thus glorious fell the plume of war!
“Forgive my playful measures wild,
And in the poet view the child.”

WHAT harbinger victorious tidings brings,
And yonder soars on golden wings?
Beams on the solar god her bright undazzled eyes,
Proclaims with pæaning trump some hero to the skies!        230
’Tis Fame, Columbia’s warriors, friend,
’Tis Fame, whose silver voice the golden arches rend,
To proud Olympus’s lofty height
The power directs his loftier flight.
Ye gods, who throng the immortal hill,
Our fate whose nod, our law whose will,
The eternal messenger crowd round,
Attentive to the glorious sound.
Hark! the celestial sounds—melodious, clear,
Arrest the fascinated ear;        240
Leads captive godlike minds away,
Enchants the enraptured realms of day.
“From British chains is our Columbia freed,
And Maryland is doom’d no more to bleed,
On North Point’s proud and glorious plain        245
The sons of Freedom laurels gain.”
Scarce heard the powers the joyful sound
Than loud acclaims through heaven rebound.
And Stricker’s bright immortal name
Was given to Victory and to Fame.        250
  Mars avow’d his darling son,
  Venus own’d her heart was won,
  Apollo struck the euphonious lyre,
  And all the muses were on fire!
  Minerva twined the laurel bough        255
  Around the valiant hero’s brow.
“And may,” she said, “my olives bloom
With this round my templed room.”
Lovely Graces flowers bind
And round his garland brow entwined,        260
And, while the virgin crown they wreathed,
In strains like these the sisters breathed:—
    “Let the victor-warrior wear
    The trophies which his arm has won!
    Let ravish’d laurels deck the hair,        265
    Of blest Columbia’s honour’d son!
  Fame in her hand a banner bore:
  “Heroes who fought for Baltimore,”
  In golden letters beaming bright
  Their names in characters of light,        270
  Heath, Sterret, Barry, Spangler, Long,
  Your names add glory to triumphant song.
  And Fowler, Steiger, and Quaintril,
  While fame endures your names shall flourish still,
  Metzger, Montgomery, Aisquith and Wilmot,        275
  Heroic warriors! splendid is your lot,
  Your glory’s radiant orb no calumny shall blot.
  Fraily, Barney, Stenenson,
  Bold Taylor, and brave Calhoun,
  Proud names! and many thousand more,        280
  Inscribed in gold, Fame’s brilliant banner bore.
  And shall I here in indolence reside,
  While from my Edwin’s wounds may gush the purple tide?
  No, I will hasten to the fields of strife,
  Happy to share his toils, or save his life.        285
  E’en now in sight of Heaven I am my Edwin’s wife.
  Thus virtuously resolved, the beauteous pilgrim sought
  The fatal field, where her loved Edwin fought.
  Freedom, anointed angel, rise,
  Our blest Columbia’s darling prize!        290
  Beloved by every noble mind,
  In thee is every charm combined.
  For sake of thee have millions bled,
  Illustrious ’mongst the honour’d dead,
  Whose souls uncurb’d by grovelling clay,        295
  Burst thraldom’s chains and soar’d away,
On thy celestial wings to realms of endless day!
  Proud, angry foes, from foreign lands,
    Would plunge into thy valiant heart,
  The dirk of death—Columbia’s bands        300
    Spared not their lives on Freedom’s part.
  For them their mourning brothers raise
  Triumphant monuments of praise.
  Arm’stead, thy illustrious name
  Is written on the rolls of fame!        305
  Long as the earth endures, as long
  Shall grace Columbia’s epic song.
  And thou, brave youth! whose cannon’s fire,
  Flashing through night with carnage dire,
  Spread wounds, and death, and wild dismay,        310
  With British blood tinged the red bay!
  A laurel-wreath, O Webster, ’s thine!
  Thy fame shall blaze while suns shall shine.
  The valiant Newcomb laurels won
  For conduct brave at Covington,        315
  Steuart’s name, and gallant Nicholson’s,
  Brave Berry’s too, and Pennington’s,
  Stansbury; Former, Harris, Dyer,
  Intrepid Bird, who midst the fire
  Of hostile hosts his troops inspire,        320
  Your deeds shall grace the muses page,
  Your worth admired from age to age!
  Let Winder’s name, to honour dear,
  Inscribed on the bright list appear.
  Donaldson’s worth, what muse can tell,
  Who bravely for his country fell?
  For him bright Glory spreads her arms,
  He rush’d through death to own her charms!
  Oft o’er his grave shall flow the elegiac tear,
  His name to patriotism ever dear        330
  Our sons in distant times revere.
  Great was the warrior I deplore
    With tears of deep regret,
  But he has reach’d a happier shore
    Where valiant souls are met;        335
  He left a blood impurpled field
    Of trouble, care, and strife,
  For heavenly fields, which happiness yield
    Of bliss and endless life.

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