A Song for the Red-Coats | American Revolution War Song

About the author

Frank Moore
Frank Moore

Frank Moore was a journalist and Revolutionary historian. He published a number of books on the American Revolution during his career in the mid-19th century, including Songs and Ballads of the American Revolution, Diary of the American Revolution and The Patriot Preachers of the American Revolution.

This ballad was known during the revolution, as the “North Campaign,” “Gates’ Song,” and “A Song for the Red-Coats.” It has been attributed to a “private of Colonel Brook’s regiment,”1 and also to the author of “American Taxation.”

A Song for the Red-Coats

COME unto me ye heroes
Whose hearts are true and bold,
Who value more your honor,
Than others do their gold;
Give ear unto my story,
And I the truth will tell,
Concerning many a soldier,
Who for his country fell.

Burgoyne, the king’s commander,
From Canada set sail,
With full eight thousand reg’lars,
He thought he could not fail;
With Indians and Canadians,
And his curs’d Tory crew,
On board his fleet of shipping,
He up the Champlain flew.

Before Ticonderoga,
The first day of July,
Appear’d his ships and army,
And, we did them espy.
Their motions we observèd,
Full well both night and day,
And our brave boys preparèd,
To have a bloody fray

Our garrison they viewed them,
And straight their troops did land,
And when St. Clair, our chieftain,
The fact did understand,
That they the Mount Defiance
Were bent to fortify,
He found we must surrender,
Or else prepare to die.

The fifth day of July, then,
He ordered a retreat,
And when next morn we started,
Burgoyne thought we were beat.
And closely he pursued us,
Till when near Hubbardton,
Our rear guards were defeated,
He thought the country won.

And when ’twas told in Congress,
That we our forts had left,
To Albany retreated,
Of all the North bereft;
Brave General Gates they sent us,
Our fortunes to retrieve,
And him with shouts of gladness,
The army did receive.

Where first the Mohawk’s waters,
Do in the sunshine play,
For Herkimer’s brave soldiers,
Sellinger 2 ambush’d lay;
And them he there defeated,
But soon he had his due,
And scared by Brooks and Arnold,
He to the north withdrew.

To take the stores and cattle,
That we had gather’d then,
Burgoyne sent a detachment
Of fifteen hundred men;
By Baum they were commanded,
To Bennington they went;
To plunder and to murder,
Was fully their intent.

But little did they know then,
With whom they had to deal,
It was not quite so easy,
Our stores and stock to steal;
Bold Stark would give them only,
A portion of his lead;
With half his crew ere sunset,
Baum lay among the dead.

The nineteenth of September,
The morning cool and clear,
Brave Gates rode through our army,
Each soldier’s heart to cheer;
“Burgoyne,” he cried, “advances,
But we will never fly;
No – rather than surrender,
We’ll fight him till we die.”

The news was quickly brought us,
The enemy was near,
And all along our lines then
There was no signs of fear;
It was above Stillwater
We met at noon that day,
And every one expected
To see a bloody fray.

Six hours the battle lasted,
Each heart was true as gold,
The British fought like lions,
And we like Yankees bold;
The leaves with blood were crimson,
And then brave Gates did cry –
“Tis diamond now cut diamond !
We’ll beat them boys or die.”

The darkness soon approaching,
It forced us to retreat,
Into our lines till morning,
Which made them think us beat;
But ere the sun was risen,
They saw before their eyes,
Us ready to engage them,
Which did them much surprise.

Of fighting they seem weary,
Therefore to work they go,
Their thousand dead to bury,
And breastworks up to throw;
With grape and bombs intending
Our army to destroy,
Or from our works our forces
By stratagem decoy.

The seventh day of October,
The British tried again,
Shells from their cannons throwing,
Which fell on us like rain;
To drive us from our stations,
That they might thus retreat;
For now Burgoyne saw plainly,
He never could us beat.

But vain was his endeavor
Our men to terrify;
Though death was all around us,
Not one of us would fly.
But when an hour we’d fought them,
And they began to yield,
Along our lines the cry ran,
The next blow wins the field!”

Great God, who guides their battles,
Whose cause is just and true,
Inspire our bold commander,
The course he should pursue.
He ordered Arnold forward,
And Brooks to follow on;
The enemy was routed !
Our liberty was won !

Then burning all their luggage,
They fled with haste and fear,
Burgoyne with all his forces,
To Saratogue did steer;
And Gates, our brave commander,
Soon after him did hie,
Resolving he would take them,
Or in the effort die.

As we came nigh the village,
We overtook the foe;
They’d burned each house to ashes,
Like all where’er they go.
The seventeenth of October,
They did capitulate,
Burgoyne and his proud army,
Did we our pris’ners make.

Now, here’s a health to Arnold,
And our commander Gates,
To Lincoln and to Washington,
Whom every Tory hates;
Likewise unto our Congress,
God grant it long to reign;
Our Country, Right, and Justice,
For ever to maintain.

Now finish’d is my story,
My song is at an end;
The freedom we’re enjoying
We’re ready to defend;
For while our cause is righteous,
Heaven nerves the soldier’s arm,
And vain is their endeavor,
Who strive to do us harm.

  1. Curiosities of American Literature, by Rufus W. Griswold, page 32.
  2. St. Leger, pronounced Sellinger.

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