Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
Capture of Cornwallis
WHEN Lord Cornwallis cross’d the main,
  The cannons roar’d like thunder;
But if he e’er returns again,
  Methinks ’twill be a wonder;
Unless great Washington sees fit        5
  To pity his disaster,
Should grant his lordship a permit
  To go and tell his master:
That he’d almost eight thousand men,
  All bold and valiant boys, sir;        10
But then they dared not fire a gun,
  For fear ’twould make a noise, sir.
In seventeen hundred eighty-one,
  The nineteenth of October,
His time was out, his race was run,        15
  Which made him something sober.
If George the Third does still incline
  To ravage, burn, and plunder,
Tom Gage, Cornwallis, and Burgoyne
  Perhaps may bring us under;        20
For Tom, resolved to have his will,
  And this whole country round, sir.
From Boston march’d to Bunker Hill,
  And there he ran aground, sir.
This tedious march with all his troops,        25
  This hero he accomplish’d,
About two miles in eighteen months,
  Then he, poor soul, was vanquish’d.
Burgoyne for elbow room complain’d,
  Resolved that he would have it;        30
And General Gates, to please the man,
  Most generously gave it.
He ask’d no more of old Burgoyne,
  But that he should resign, sir,
Almost eleven thousand men,        35
  Nor take up arms again, sir.
The wretch he look’d and stared about,
  And seeing his condition,
And fearing a more awful route,
  Was forced to submission.        40
If these three heroes war should wage,
  And Satan to defend them,
Burgoyne, Cornwallis, and Tom Gage,
  No mortal could withstand them,
If you great Milton’s book have read        45
  Of Satan’s usurpation,
How he the fallen angels led
  On to their ruination,
Then you may guess how he’d appear
  With these three heroes round him;        50
When Washington he does draw near,
  What terrors would confound him!
But to Cornwallis I’ll return,
  And try if I can find him;
His heart with rage does doubtless burn,        55
  Since Washington Burgoyned him.
But I must take a retrospect,
  And just inform my reader
How this great hero did conduct,
  When he was the chief leader.        60
When General Lincoln he had took,
  He was so elevated,
That he disdain’d on him to look,
  He being captivated.
But to an understrapper said,        65
  “Go take this fellow from me;
See that my orders are obey’d,
  He ne’er shall look upon me;
I feel so big with the success,
  No mortal e’er felt greater;        70
I’ll not discourse him more or less,
  But treat him as a traitor.”
This last conduct paved the way
  Just for retaliation;
I think he must mind the day,        75
  With horror and vexation.
He thought himself scarce flesh and bone,
  Or of the human kind, sir.
If such his thoughts, he’s not alone,
  I’m of the same mind, sir.        80
How must it mortify his mind,
  How great was his dejection;
With Yankee guards on either side,
  How cutting the reflection!
When he a captive pass’d along,        85
  The band of music sounded,
’Tis not a pen nor human tongue
  Can tell how he’s confounded.
Methinks I hear his lordship say,
  When walking in procession;        90
“How dark and gloomy is the day,
  A stain to my profession;
What from Great Britain will be said,
  How greatly ’twill confound me,
To own I was a prisoner made,        95
  With British troops all round me,
That had stores of every kind,
  Both arms and ammunition;
Provisions plenty, yet resign’d,
  How dreadful my condition!        100
What will Great Britain’s king reply,
  To hear I’m thus Burgoyned!
Perhaps he’ll feel as bad as I,
  Though he’s not yet confined.
In London prints the other day,        105
  I read that which did scare me,
That almost all America
  Was conquer’d by our army.
How greatly is the king deceived,
  By lying printers flatter’d!        110
Ten thousand lies he has believed,
  But now his troops are captured.
If at this rate things should go on,
  We can’t hold out much longer;
Old England soon will be undone,        115
  And Washington will conquer.
O how I feel my honour gall’d,
  Thus to be overpower’d
With such an army, and be call’d
  A scoundrel and a coward!”        120
Thus to himself I do suppose
  Cornwallis ruminated,
And I suppose he would have chose
  To have been annihilated.
But as his lordship pass’d along,        125
  He had some expectation
That he might speak with Washington
  To be some mitigation.
But when that favour was denied
  It was an aggravation        130
To his misfortune, and he cried
  “What is my destination?”
Great Washington would not consent
  His lordship should behold him,
But by a private soldier sent,        135
  And in this manner told him;
“You General Lincoln did disdain,
  When he was in your power, sir.
The wheel of fortune’s turn’d again,
  And pray what are you now, sir?        140
You to his quarters shall be sent,
  To have your destination.
Trust Providence for the event,
  ’Tis for retaliation.”
Then to the general he’s convey’d,        145
  But felt I know not how, sir.
Deliver’d up his shining blade,
  And made an humble bow, sir.
The golden hilt our general took,
  Just as his lordship gave it,        150
But O how pale his lordship look’d,
  I guess he’d rather have it!
Now dear Americans, I pray
  That you will all remember,
And not forget your thanks to pay        155
  The thirteenth of December;
Because the Congress have seen fit
  And have their orders given,
That on that day we all should meet
  And pay our thanks to Heaven.        160

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