Sullivan's Island

This ironical, and burlesque old song, was composed in the early part of 1777. The author treats of the unsuccessful attack on Sullivan's Island, by the British, in the summer of the previous year, and closes his epic with promises to gain lasting fame for the royal arms, in all future actions. In the papers of the time, it appears as a "New War Song, by Sir Peter Parker," written and printed in London, and adapted to the tune, "Well met, brother Tar !"


My Lords, with your leave,
An account I will give, 1
That deserves to be written in metre:
For the rebels and I,
Have been pretty nigh,
Faith almost too nigh for Sir Peter.

With much labor and toil,
Unto Sullivan's Isle, 2
I came firm as Falstaff or Pistol,
But the Yankees, 'od rot 'em,
I could not get at 'em :
Most terribly maul'd my poor Bristol. 3

Bold Clinton by land, 4
Did quietly Stand,
While I made a thundering clatter;
But the channel was deep,
So he only could peep,
And not venture over the water.

De'el take 'em, their Shot
Came so swift and so hot,
And the cowardly dogs 5 stood so stiff, sirs !
That I put ship about,
And was glad to get out,
Or they would not have left me a skiff, sirs !

Now bold as a Turk,
I proceed to New York, 6
Where with Clinton and Howe you may find me.
I've the wind in my tail,
And am hoisting my sail,
To leave Sullivan's island behind me.

But my Lords, do not fear,
For before the next year,
Although a small island could fret us,
The Continent whole,
We shall take, by my soul,
If the cowardly Yankees 7 will let us.

1 An account I will give. Late in the month of June, 1776, General Sir Henry Clinton, and Sir Peter Parker, with a powerful fleet and army, attempted the reduction of Charleston, South Carolina. The fleet came to anchor, at less than half musket shot from the fort on Sullivan's Island, and commenced the engagement. It lasted over ten hours, when the British were repulsed, after suffering great loss. After the firing ceased, the fleet slipped their cables, and before the next morning had retired two miles from the fort.

2 Sullivan's Isle is situated on the northern side of Charleston harbor, about four miles from the town.

3 Most terribly maul'd my poor Brlstol. The Bristol flag-ship, under the command of Sir Peter Parker, was greatly damaged in the hull. Commodore Parker's breeches were torn off, his thigh and knee wounded, so that he walked only when supported on each side. The following extempore appeared in the Constitutional Gazette, at New York, a short time after this action.

If "honor in the breech is lodged,"
As Hudibras has shown,
It may from thence be fairly judged,
Sir Peter's honor gone.

4 Bold Clinton by land. General Clinton, some time before the engagement, landed with a number of troops on Long Island, and it was expected he would have co-operated with Sir Peter Parker, by crossing the narrow passage which divides the two islands; but Colonel Thompson with eight hundred men, stationed to oppose him, induced him to decline the perilous attempt.

5 And the cowardly dogs. The garrison under the command of Colonel Moultrie, although composed entirely of raw troops, showed determination and coolness that would have done honor to the oldest men in the service. They fired deliberately, for the most part took aim, and seldom missed their object. On the day after this gallant action, Moultrie cheered his officers and men in the following spirited and singular language: "My brave companions, you see the advantage of courage and fortitude. You have fought and have conquered, and the gallant fellows who fell in the cannonade of yesterday, are now in Heaven, riding in their chariots like the devil." - New Jersey Journal, 1779.

6 I proceed to New York. A few days after the engagement, the troops re-embarked and the whole sailed for New York.

7 If the cowardly Yankees. During the hottest fire of Sir Peter Parker's squadron, the flag of the fort was shot down. Sergeant William Jasper immediately stood upon the ramparts, with the flag in his hand, until another staff was handed to him, when he planted it and retired.