Verse > Anthologies > James and Mary Ford, eds. > Every Day in the Year
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James and Mary Ford, eds.  Every Day in the Year.  1902.
 
October 25
The “United States” and “Macedonian”
Old Ballad
 
          A naval engagement of the War of 1812 in which the American frigate “United States” captured the English frigate “Macedonian.” It was fought on Oct. 25, 1812.

THE BANNER of Freedom high floated unfurled,
While the silver-tipped surges in low homage curled,
Flashing bright round the bow of Decatur’s brave bark,
In contest, an “eagle”—in chasing a “lark.”
    The bold United States.        5
    Which four-and-forty rates,
Will ne’er be known to yield—be known to yield or fly,
Her motto is “Glory! we conquer or we die.”
 
All canvas expanded to woo the coy gale,
The ship cleared for action, in chase of a sail;        10
The foemen in view, every bosom beats high,
All eager for conquest, or ready to die.
    The bold United States,
    Which four-and-forty rates,
Will ne’er be known to yield—be known to yield or fly,        15
Her motto is “Glory! we conquer or we die.”
 
Now havoc stands ready with optics of flame,
And battle-hounds “strain on the start” for the game;
The blood demons rise on the surge for their prey,
While Pity, rejected, awaits the dread fray.        20
    The bold United States,
    Which four-and-forty rates,
Will ne’er be known to yield—be known to yield or fly,
Her motto is “Glory! we conquer or we die.”
 
The gay floating streamers of Britain appear,        25
Waving light on the breeze as the stranger we near;
And now could the quick-sighted Yankee discern
Macedonian, emblazoned at large on her stern.
    The bold United States,
    Which four-and-forty rates,        30
Will ne’er be known to yield—be known to yield or fly,
Her motto is “Glory! we conquer or we die.”
 
She waited our approach, and the contest began,
But to waste ammunition is no Yankee plan;
In awful suspense every match was withheld,        35
While the bull-dogs of Britain incessantly yelled.
    The bold United States,
    Which four-and-forty rates,
Will ne’er be known to yield—be known to yield or fly,
Her motto is “Glory! we conquer or we die.”        40
 
Unawed by her thunders, alongside we came,
While the foe seemed enwrapped in a mantle of flame;
When, prompt to the word, such a flood we return,
That Neptune aghast, thought his trident would burn.
    The bold United States,        45
    Which four-and-forty rates,
Will ne’er be known to yield—be known to yield or fly,
Her motto is “Glory! we conquer or we die.”
 
Now the lightning of battle gleams horridly red,
With a tempest of iron and hail-storm of lead;        50
And our fire on the foe we so copiously poured,
His mizzen and topmasts soon went by the board.
    The bold United States,
    Which four-and-forty rates,
Will ne’er be known to yield—be known to yield or fly,        55
Her motto is “Glory! we conquer or we die.”
 
So fierce and so bright did our flashes aspire,
They thought that their cannon had set us on fire,
“The Yankee’s in flames!—every British tar hears,
And hails the false omen with three hearty cheers.        60
    The bold United States,
    Which four-and-forty rates,
Will ne’er be known to yield—be known to yield or fly,
Her motto is “Glory! we conquer or we die.”
 
In seventeen minutes they found their mistake,        65
And were glad to surrender and fall in our wake;
Her decks were with carnage and blood deluged o’er,
Where welt’ring in blood lay an hundred and four.
    The bold United States,
    Which four-and-forty rates,        70
Will ne’er be known to yield—be known to yield or fly,
Her motto is “Glory! we conquer or we die.”
 
But though she was made so completely a wreck,
With blood they had scarcely encrimsoned our deck;
Only five valiant Yankees in the contest were slain,        75
And our ship in five minutes was fitted again.
    The bold United States,
    Which four-and-forty rates,
Will ne’er be known to yield—be known to yield or fly,
Her motto is “Glory! we conquer or we die.”        80
 
Let Britain no longer lay claim to the seas,
For the trident of Neptune is ours, if we please,
While Hull and Decatur and Jones are our boast,
We dare their whole navy to come on our coast.
    The bold United States,        85
    Which four-and-forty rates,
Will ne’er be known to yield—be known to yield or fly,
Her motto is “Glory! we conquer or we die.”
 
Rise, tars of Columbia!—and share in the fame,
Which gilds Hull’s, Decatur’s and Jones’s bright name;        90
Fill a bumper and drink, “Here’s success to the cause,
But Decatur supremely deserves our applause.”
    The bold United States,
    Which four-and-forty rates,
Shall ne’er be known to yield—be known to yield or fly,        95
Her motto is “Glory! we conquer or we die.”
 
 
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