Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
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CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
 
Battle of La Tranche
By Angus Umphraville (b. 1797?)
 
GOD prosper fair Columbia’s arms,
  On land and on the sea;
And may her sons e’er prize the charms
  Of dear-bought Liberty!
 
’Twas on La Tranche’s fertile banks        5
  A gallant host appear’d;
But fourteen hundred form’d their ranks,
  No chance of war they fear’d.
 
Their country’s cause had call’d them forth
  To battle’s stormy field;        10
They deem’d the man of little worth
  Whose mind but thought to yield.
 
These our Columbia’s warrior bands
  The star-stud ensign bear;
And General Harrison commands        15
  The men to valour dear.
 
Six hundred British regulars,
  All gorgeously array’d;
Inured to dangers and to wars,
  Their radiant arms display’d.        20
 
Their line extended on a plain,
  A miry swamp between,
And town call’d the Moravian,
  Was near distinctly seen.
 
Supported by the artillery,        25
  And in their centre stood
Two heavy pieces, bright and high,
  Menacing death and blood.
 
Along the margin of the swamp
  Twelve hundred Indians form;        30
No timid wish their fury damp,
  Sons of the battle’s storm!
 
Tecumseh, valiant Shawanese!
  Bold as the tiger fierce,
To combat foe, or spoil to seize,        35
  Or victim’s heart to pierce.
 
He, ruthless, barbarous, bloody chief,
  Raises the loud war-song;
He scorn’d to think of widow’s grief,
  Firm were his warriors strong.        40
 
See! Columbia’s order’d band
  March on to the attack;
Each with his musket in his hand,
  And not a man look’d back.
 
Now General Proctor gives the word,        45
  The British legions fire;
War drew the trigger, bared the sword,
  And wounded men expire.
 
But hark! the charge, the trumpet sounds—
  A thousand horsemen forward rush’d;        50
Our soldiers fear’d nor death nor wounds,
  Full fifty foes they kill’d or crush’d.
 
Then instantly the warriors turn’d,
  Form’d quickly in their rear;
And to renew the charge they burn’d,        55
  When orders they should hear.
 
But panic seized the Britons all,
  “Fix, fix your bayonets true!”
In vain their valiant leaders call—
  “Return your foes their due!”        60
 
Mute terror mingled in their ranks,
  And, to the jackets blue,
On famed La Tranche’s blood-stain’d banks,
  Four hundred seventy-two
 
Surrender’d—to the soldiers brave,        65
  The starry flag who bare;
And they were pleas’d their lives to save,
  And British blood to spare.
 
Among the prisoners were these three
  Bold British colonels, they—        70
Evans, Warburton, Baubee,
  The fate of war obey.
 
When Proctor saw lost was the day,
  He fled La Tranche’s plain;
A carriage bore the chief away,        75
  Who ne’er return’d again.
 
Under an escort of dragoons,
  In number seventy-eight;
Safe both from danger and from wounds
  He fled war’s dire debate.        80
 
Fierce on the left the battle raged,
  For with unusual skill,
Tecumseh’s warriors ours engaged,
  And many wound and kill.
 
The valiant Colonel Johnson leads        85
  His brave battalion on;
Heads them to dare illustrious deeds,
  Laurels by which are won.
 
Against Tecumseh’s army’s flank
  A vigorous charge he made;        90
Of death’s cold cup how many drank!
  How many widow’s made.
 
The Indian chief immediate dealt
  A most tremendous fire;
The shock was most severely felt—        95
  Americans expire!
 
Yet steadily our troops advance
  In columns firm and strong;
Dangers valour’s price enhance
  And animates the throng;        100
 
To break the line of Indian foes
  At onset the attempt proved vain;
The swamp and thicket interpose,
  Johnson resolved to attempt again.
 
So when the bullets many rounds        105
  Deadly exchange! were fired;
And many died of ghastly wounds
  Shortly our bands respired.
 
“Dismount!” the colonel sternly cried,
  Quickly both columns obey—        110
With Indians, Indian modes he tried,
  Beat them in their own way.
 
“Now, brave Kentuckians, warmly charge!”
  The brave Kentuckians flew;
With the loud muskets’ dire discharge,        115
  With bayonets, swords, they slew.
 
O dreadful is the sound of war,
  When such as these engage!
Dreadful the scene, the murderous jar,
  When hostile armies rage!        120
 
Now through the broken Indian line
  Our warriors urge their way;
And in their rear our armour shine,
  Bright as the beam of day.
 
Their force collecting to the right        125
  To force our infantry,
The desperate Indians bend their might,
  Their genius heaved a sigh.
 
For General Desha, soldier brave!
  The infantry commands,        130
Who, to disgrace, prefers the grave,
  Bold as his sturdy bands.
 
Yet hardly could they bear the shock
  Of this dreadful attack;
As spurns the wave, the ocean-rock,        135
  The noble Shelby drove them back.
 
Five gushing wounds, painful and deep,
  The colonel’s vest distain’d;
Blood as from fountains five did weep,
  He to retire disdain’d.        140
 
His milk-white charger, proud and hot,
  Whose nostrils foam’d with fire;
Twice was he pierced with bullet shot,
  Swift spurn’d the slain in ire.
 
Till, where before his master stood—        145
  And rage possess’d his soul,
Tecumseh, valiant man of blood!
  Who shall his power control?
 
Nor word spoke he, red lightnings glare
  Destruction from his eyes;        150
His tomahawk blood-bedropt in air
  Raising—he falls! he dies!
 
For soon the wounded colonel knew
  The mighty chieftain well,
With pistol ball Tecumseh slew—        155
  And then, exhausted, fell.
 
The wounded conqueror was removed,
  One thousand Indians fight:
And Major Thompson, valour proved,
  Our men commands aright.        160
 
Tecumseh’s voice no more they hear,
  Dismay’d the Indians fled;
Exclaiming, as they flew in fear,
  “The Prophet’s chief is dead!”
 
And think’st thou that brave Harrison        165
  By cruelty might blot
The laurels his bold arms have won?
  Ah! then thou know’st him not.
 
The wounded of both armies share
  Alike his pity own;        170
The foe subdued divides his care
  To both in kindness shown.
 
The hero of La Tranche shall live
  In many a minstrel’s song,
And kisses to his lips to give        175
  Shall many a maiden long.
 
Oft to La Tranche’s battle-field,
  In future times shall traveller come;
To mute reflection’s power to yield,
  And gaze on lowly warriors’ tomb.        180
 
“Here,” shall he say, “Our soldiers stood,
  There the Indians numerous host;
Here the gallant Johnson’s blood,
  There died the Shawanœan boast.
 
And aye the silver-sounding lyre,        185
  By La Tranche’s conscious stream:
The Muse shall wake to themes of fire,
  Recall the blaze of battle’s beam.
 
Glory to heroes bold belong,
  On history’s page their names shine bright;        190
For them shall sound triumphal song,
  Who fell in this victorious fight.
 
God prosper fair Columbia’s arms,
  On land and on the sea;
And may her sons e’er prize the charms        195
  Of dear-bought Liberty.
 
 
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