by Philip Freneau
O'ER the waste of waters cruising,
Long the General Monk had reigned;
All subduing, all reducing,
None her lawless rage restrained:
Many a brave and hearty fellow,
Yielding to this war-like foe,
When her guns began to bellow
Struck his humbled colors low.
But, grown bold with long successes,
Leaving the wide watery way,
She, a stranger to distresses,
Came to cruise within Cape May:
"Now we soon (said Captain Rogers)
Shall their men of commerce meet;
In our hold we'll have them lodgers,
We shall capture half their fleet.
"Lo! I see their van appearing-
Back our top-sails to the mast!
They toward us full are steering
With a gentle western blast:
A list of all their cargoes,
All their guns, and all their men:
I am sure these modern Argo's
Can't escape us one in ten:
"Yonder comes the Charming Sally
Sailing with the General Greene-
First we'll fight the Hyder Ally,
Taking her is taking them:
She intends to give us battle,
Bearing down with all her sail-
Now, boys, let our cannon rattle!
To take her we cannot fail.
"Our eighteen guns, each a nine-pounder,
Soon shall terrify this foe;
We shall maul her, we shall wound her,
Bringing rebel colors low."
While he thus anticipated
Conquests that he could not gain,
He in the Cape May channel waited
For the ship that caused his pain.
Captain Barney then preparing,
Thus addressed his gallant crew:
Now, brave lads, be bold and daring,
Let your hearts be firm and true;
This is a proud English cruiser,
Roving up and down the main,
We must fight her-must reduce her,
Though our decks be strewed with slain.
"Let who will be the survivor,
We must conquer or must die,
We must take her up the river,
Whate'er comes of you or I:
Though she shows most formidable
With her eighteen pointed nines,
And her quarters clad in sable,
Let us bank her proud designs.
With four nine-pounders and twelve sixes,
We will face that daring band;
Let no dangers damp your courage,
Nothing can the brave withstand.
Fighting for your country's honor,
Now to gallant deeds aspire;
Helmsman, bear us down upon her,
Gunner, give the word to fire!"
Then yard-arm and yard-arm meeting,
Straight began the dismal fray,
Cannon mouths, each other greeting,
Belched their smoky flames away;
Soon the langrage, grape and chain-shot,
That from Barney's cannons flew,
Swept the Monk, and cleared each round-top,
Killed and wounded half her crew.
Captain Rogers strove to rally
His men from their quarters fled,
While the roaring Hyder Ally
Covered o'er his decks with dead.
When from their tops their dead men tumbled,
And the streams of blood did flow,
Then their proudest hopes were humbled
By their brave inferior foe.
All aghast, and all confounded,
They beheld their champions fall,
And their captain, sorely wounded,
Bade them quick for quarter call.
Then the Monk's proud flag descended,
And her cannon ceased to roar;
By her crew no more defended,
She confessed the contest o'er.
Come, brave boys, and fill your glasses,
You have humbled one proud foe,
No brave action this surpasses,
Fame shall tell the nations so.
Thus be Britain's woes completed,
Thus abridged her cruel reign,
Till she ever, thus defeated,
Yields the sceptre of the main.
Last updated January 11, 2023