An American Frigate ~ Paul Jones

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   A song was written to commemorate the 23 September 1779 naval battle between the Bonhomme Richard, commanded by John Paul Jones, and the British man-of-war, Serapis, commanded by Captain Pearson. Known by the title, An American Frigate, the song was variously known by the titles: Paul Jones and Paul Jones The Pirate.

   In regard to the battle for which this song was written, after a fierce fight lasting nearly two hours, the Serapis surrendered. As the Bonhomme Richard was damaged badly, Jones claimed the Serapis and had her repaired at Texel, Holland. Fully repaired and fitted as an American frigate, the Serapis was ready to serve as John Paul Jones' ship by 05 October 1779.

It's of an American frigate the "Richard" by name, Mounted forty-four guns, and from New York she came.
A-cruising down the channel of Old England's fame, With a noble commander, Paul Jones was his name.
We had not cruis'd long before two sails we espied, A large forty-four and a twenty likewise,
Some fifty bright shipping, well loaded with store, And the convoy stood in for the old Yorkshire shore.
'Bout the hour of twelve we came alongside, With a loudspeaking trumpet: "Whence came you?" he cried;
"Come, answer me quickly, I'll hail you no more Or else a broadside into you I will pour."
We fought them four glasses, four glasses so hot, Till forty bold seamen lay dead on the spot,
And fifty-five more lay bleeding in gore, While the thundering loud cannons of Paul Jones did roar.
Our carpenter being frighten'd, to Paul Jones he said, "Our ship she leaks water and is likewise in flame",
Paul Jones then made answer, and to him replied, "If we can do no better, we'll sink alongside."
Paul Jones he then turned to his men and did say "Let every man stand the best of his play",
'Twas broadside for broadside we fought on the main, Like true buckskin heroes we return'd it again.
The Serapis hove round our ship for to rake, And many proud hearts of the English did ache;
The shot flew so hot, and so fierce and so fast, And the bold British colours were hauled down at last.
And now, my brave boys, we have taken a rich prize: A large forty-four and a twenty likewise;
God help ev'ry poor mother that has reason to weep, For the loss of their sons in the unfathomed deep.


   Note: The midi file that is linked to this page was sequenced by Lesley Nelson-Burns and maintained on the website, located at: