This ballad was written in 1777, following the defeat of British General John Burgoyne at Saratoga at the hands of American General Benedict Arnold.
This song was written to be sung to the tune of another song, Jack, A Brisk Young Drummer.
Another name for the song was On Gen. Burgoyne's Defeat.
When Jack the king's commander Was going to his duty,
Through all the crowd he smiled and bowed To every blooming beauty.
The city rung with feats he'd done In Portugal and Flanders,
And all the town thought he'd be crowned The first of Alexanders.
To Hampton Court he first repair'd To kiss great George's hand, sir;
Then to harangue on state affairs Before he left the land, sir.
The "Lower house" sat mute as mouse To hear his grand oration;
And "all the peers", with loudest cheers, Proclaimed him thro' the nation.
Then off he went to Canada, Next to Ticonderoga,
And quitting those away he goes Straightway to Saratoga.
With great parade his march he made To gain his wished-for station,
While far and wide his minions hied To spread his "Proclamation."
To such as stayed he offers made Of "pardon on submission;
But savage bands should waste the lands Of all in opposition."
But ah, the cruel fate of war, This boasted son of Britain,
When mounting his triumphal car, With sudden fear was smitten.
The sons of freedom gather'd round, His hostile band confounded,
And when they'd fain have turn'd their backs, They found themselves surrounded.
In vain they fought, in vain they fled, Their chief, humane and tender,
To save the rest, he thought it best His forces to surrender.
Brave St. Clair, when he first retired, Knew what the fates portended,
And Arnold, with heroic Gates, His conduct have defended.
Thus may America's brave sons With honor be rewarded;
And be the fate of all her foes The fame as here recorded.