Trip to Cambridge | 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.

Notwithstanding the prominent position in which General Washington was placed at the head of an undisciplined army, and the effect which that position produced upon the minds of the well regulated and disdainful royal troops, he was the subject of a very few ludicrous ballads. The ministerial writers generally burlesqued the great common interests of the people, in their productions, or comprehended the whole race of patriots as one rebel collection.

Trip to Cambridge

WHEN Congress sent great Washington1
All clothed in power and breeches,
To meet old Britain’s warlike sons
And make some rebel speeches;

‘Twas then he took his gloomy way2
Astride his dapple donkeys,
And travelled well, both night and day,
Until he reach’d the Yankees

Away from camp, ’bout three miles off,
From Lily he dismounted,3
His sergeant brush’d his sun-burnt wig
While he the specie counted.

All prinked up in full bag-wig;
The shaking notwithstanding,
In leathers tight, oh ! glorious sight !
He reach’d the Yankee landing.4

The women ran, the darkeys too;
And all the bells, they tollèd;
For Britain’s sons, by Doodle doo,
We’re sure to be – consolèd.

Old mother Hancock with a pan
All crowded full of butter,
Unto the lovely Georgius ran,
And added to the splutter.

Says she, “Our brindle has just calved,
And John is wondrous happy.
He sent this present to you, dear,
As you’re the ‘country’s papa’ ” –

“You’ll butter bread and bread butter,
But do not butt your speeches.
“You’ll butter bread and bread butter,
But do not grease your breeches.”

Full many a child went into camp,
All dressed in homespun kersey,
To see the greatest rebel scamp
That ever cross’d o’er Jersey.

The rebel clowns, oh ! what a sight !
Too awkward was their figure.
‘Twas yonder stood a pious wight,
And here and there a n******.

Upon a stump, he placed (himself,)
Great Washington did he,
And through the nose of lawyer Close5
Proclaimed great Liberty.6

The patriot brave, the patriot fair,
From fervor had grown thinner,
So off they march’d, with patriot zeal,
And took a patriot dinner.7

  1. “When Congress sent great Washington.” Washington was appointed by the Continental Congress, “General and Commander-in-chief of all the troops raised and to be raised, for the defence of the United Colonies,” in June 1775, and immediately set off to join the main army, which was at Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  2. ” ‘Twas then he took his gloomy way.” On the journey he was treated with the highest honors in every place through which he passed. Volunteers of gentlemen and ladies often escorting him through their villages.
  3. “From Lily he dismounted.” The delicate name of this donkey was probably suggested to Washington by the whiteness of its hide, which was pretty well exposed to the weather, from the constant chafing of the articles with which it was ladened, and by mange, which through the mysterious operations of nature, and bad care, will appear on the outer wall of the animal kingdom.” Author of the Song.
  4. “He reach’d the Yankee landing.” He arrived at Cambridge on the 3d of July, where he was received with every mark of respect by the people, and the joyful acclamations of the soldiers.
  5. “Lawyer Close.” This must refer to the general’s aid, Major Lee
  6. “Proclaimed great Liberty.” At the head of his army, he issued a proclamation, of which the following is part: “In our own native land, in defence of the freedom which is our birthright, and which we ever enjoyed till the late violation of it, we have taken up arms, we shall lay them down when hostilities shall cease on the part of the aggressors, and all danger of their being renewed, shall be removed; and not before.”
  7. “A patriot dinner.” Corn pudding and Yankee rum, a great promoter of rebellion and riot.” Author of the Song.

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