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The Battle of the Kegs (Francis Hopkinson) Gallants, attend, and hear a friend Trill forth harmonious ditty, Strange things I'll tell that late befell In Philadelphia city. 'Twas early day, as poets say, Just when the sun was rising, A soldier stood on log of wood And saw a sight surprising. As, in amaze, he stood to gaze; The truth can't be denied, sirs, He spied a score of kegs or more, Come floating down the tide, sirs. A sailor, too, in jerkin blue, The strange appearance viewing, First damned his eyes in great surprise, Then said, "Some mischief brewing." "The kegs now hold the rebel bold Packed up like pickled herring; And they've come down to attack the town In this new way of ferrying." The soldier flew, the sailor, too, And, scared almost to death, sirs, Wore out their shoes to spread the news, And ran till out of breath, sirs. Now up and down, throughout the town, Most frantic scenes were acted; And some ran here and some ran there, Like men almost distracted. Some "Fire" cried, which some denied, But said the earth had quaked; And girls and boys, with hideous noise, Ran through the town half-naked. Lord William, he, snug as a flea, Lay all this time a-snoring Nor dreamed of harm as he lay warm In bed with _______________ Now, in a fright he starts upright Awakened by such a clatter; He rubs both eyes and boldly cries, "For God's sake, what's the matter?" At his bedside he then espied Sir Erskine at command, sirs; Upon one foot he had a boot, And t'other in his hand, sirs. "Arise! Arise!" Sir Erskine cries; "The rebels---more's the pity--- Without a boat are all afloat, And ranged before the city." "The motley crew, in vessels new With Satan for their guide, sir, Packed up in bags, or wooden kegs, Come driving donwn the tide sir. Therefore, prepare for bloody war! Those kegs must all be routed, Or surely we despised shall be, And British courage doubted." The royal band now ready stand All ranged in dead array, sirs, With stomach stout to see it out, And make a bloody day, sirs. The cannons roar from shore to shore, The small arms make a rattle; Since wars began, I'm sure no man E'er saw so strange a battle. The rebel vales, the rebel dales, With rebel trees surrounded, The distant woods, the hills and floods, With rebel echoes sounded. The fish below swam to and fro, Attacked from every quarter- "Why sure," thought they, "the devil's to pay 'Mongst folks above the water." The kegs, 'tis said, tho' strongly made Of rebel staves and hoops, sirs, Could not oppose the powerful foes, The conquering British troops, sirs. From morn to night these men of might Displayed amazing courage, And when the sun was fairly down Returned to sup their porridge. A hundred men, with each a pen, Or more---upon my words, sirs, It is most true---would be too few Their valor to record, sirs, Such feats did they perform that day Upon those wicked kegs, sirs, That years to come, if they get home They'll make their boasts and brags, sir. During the American Revolution, during the British occupation of Philadelphia, some ingenious Yankee had the idea of floating some wooden kegs, loaded with gunpowder, down the Delaware River to explode against the British ships anchored there. The boms were badly timed, and most of the kegs blew up against the ice in the river. British troops and ships, panicked by the explosions, fired small arms and cannon broadsides into the river. RG Tune: Yankee Doodle RG
Thanks to Mudcat for the Digital Tradition!