Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
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William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
 
Battle of Bunker Hill
 
Composed by a British officer, the day after the battle, June 17, 1775

IT was on the seventeenth, by break of day,
  The Yankees did surprise us,
With their strong works they had thrown up,
  To burn the town and drive us.
 
But soon we had an order come,        5
  An order to defeat them;
Like rebels stout, they stood it out,
  And thought we ne’er could beat them.
 
About the hour of twelve that day,
  An order came for marching,        10
With three good flints, and sixty rounds,
  Each man hoped to discharge them.
 
We marched down to the Long Wharf,
  Where boats were ready waiting;
With expedition we embark’d,        15
  Our ships kept cannonading.
 
And when our boats all filled were
  With officers and soldiers,
With as good troops as England had,
  To oppose who dare control us?        20
 
And when our boats all filled were,
  We row’d in line of battle,
Where showers of ball like hail did fly,
  Our cannon loud did rattle.
 
There was Copps’ Hill battery, near Charlestown,        25
  Our twenty-fours they played;
And the three frigates in the stream,
  That very well behaved.
 
The Glasgow frigate clear’d the shore,
  All at the time of landing,        30
With her grape-shot and cannon-balls.
  No Yankees e’er could stand them.
 
And when we landed on the shore,
  We draw’d up all together;
The Yankees they all mann’d their works,        35
  And thought we’d ne’er come thither.
 
But soon they did perceive brave Howe,
  Brave Howe, our bold commander;
With grenadiers, and infantry,
  We made them to surrender.        40
 
Brave William Howe, on our right wing,
  Cried, “Boys, fight on like thunder;
You soon will see the rebels flee,
  With great amaze and wonder.”
 
Now some lay bleeding on the ground,        45
  And some fell fast a running
O’er hill and dales, and mountains high,
  Crying, “Zounds! brave Howe’s a coming.”
 
Brave Howe is so considerate,
  As to guard against all dangers:        50
He allow’d each half a gill this day;
  To rum we were no strangers.
 
They began to play on our left wing,
  Where Pigot, he commanded;
But we return’d it back again,        55
  With courage most undaunted.
 
To our grape-shot and musket-balls,
  To which they were but strangers,
They thought to come with sword in hand,
  But soon they found their danger.        60
 
And when their works were got into,
  And put them to the flight, sir,
They pepper’d us, poor British elves,
  And show’d us they could fight, sir.
 
And when their works we got into,        65
  With some hard knocks and danger;
Their works we found both firm and strong,
  Too strong for British Rangers.
 
But as for our artillery,
  They gave all way and run,        70
For while their ammunition held,
  They gave us Yankee fun.
 
But our commander, he got broke
  For his misconduct, sure, sir;
The shot he sent for twelve-pound guns,        75
  Were made for twenty-fours, sir.
 
There’s some in Boston pleased to say,
  As we the field were taking,
We went to kill their countrymen,
  While they their hay were making.        80
 
For such stout whigs I never saw,
  To hang them all I’d rather;
By making hay with musket-balls,
  Lord Howe cursedly did bother.
 
Bad luck to him by land and sea,        85
  For he’s despised by many;
The name of Bunker Hill he dreads,
  Where he was flogg’d most plainly.
 
And now my song is at an end:
  And to conclude my ditty,        90
’Tis only Britons ignorant,
  That I most sincerely pity.
 
As for our king and William Howe,
  And General Gage, if they’re taken,
The Yankees will hang their heads up high,        95
  On that fine hill, call’d Beacon.
 
 
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