William Banker, Jr.
The Battle of Queenstown
(October 13, 1812)
When brave Van Rensselaer cross'd the stream,
Just at the break of day
Distressing thoughts, a restless dream,
Disturb'd me where I lay.
But all the terrors of the night
Did quickly flee away:
My opening eyes beheld the light,
And hail'd the new-born day.
Soon did the murdering cannon's roar
Put blood in all my veins;
Columbia's sons have trod the shore
Where the proud Britain reigns.
To expose their breast to cannon's ball,
Their country's rights to save,
O what a grief to see them fall!
True heroes, bold and brave!
The musket's flash, the cannon's glow,
Thunder'd and lighten'd round,
Struck dread on all the tawny foe,
And swept them to the ground.
I thought what numbers must be slain,
What weeping widows left!
And aged parents full of pain,
Of every joy bereft.
The naked savage yelling round
Our heroes where they stood,
And every weapon to be found
Was bathed in human blood.
But bold Van Rensselaer, full of wounds,
Was quickly carried back;
Brave Colonel Bloom did next command
The bloody fierce attack.
Where Brock, the proud insulter, rides
In pomp and splendor great;
Our valiant heroes he derides,
And dared the power of fate.
"Here is a mark for Yankee boys,
So shoot me if you can:"
A Yankee ball soon closed his eyes,
Death found him but a man.
They slaughter'd down the tawny foe,
And Britons that were near;
They dealt out death at every blow,
The battle was severe.
Five battles fought all in one day,
Through four victorious stood,
But ah! the fifth swept all away,
And spilt our heroes' blood.
The tomahawk and scalping-knife
On them did try their skill;
Some wounded, struggling for their life,
Did black barbarians kill.
Brave Wadsworth boldly kept the field
Till their last bullets flew;
Then all were prisoners forced to yield,
What could the general do?
Militia men! O fie for shame!
Thus you your country flee.
'Tis you at last will bear the blame
For loss of victory.
When mild Van Rensselaer did command,
You would not him obey;
But stood spectators on the strand,
To see the bloody fray.
The number kill'd was seventy-four,
Prisoners, seven hundred sixty-nine,
Wounded, two hundred or more,
Who languish'd in great pain.
Some have already lost their lives,
And others like to go;
But few, I fear, will tell their wives
The doleful tale of wo.
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Source: Stevenson, Burton Egbert
(collected & Edited by). Poems of American History. Boston: Houghton