Sergeant Champe

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   Known variously as The Ballad Of Sergeant Champe, this song was published in 1780 in commemoration of Benedict Arnold's conspiracy.

   The song was set to the tune of Barbara Allen.

Come sheathe your swords! my gallant boys, And listen to the story, How Sergeant Champe, one gloomy night, Set off to catch the tory.
You see the general had got mad, To think his plans were thwarted, And swore by all, both good and bad, That Arnold should be carted.
So unto Lee he sent a line, And told him all his sorrow, And said that he must start the hunt, Before the coming morrow.
Lee found a sergeant in his camp, Made up of bone and muscle, Who ne'er knew fear, and many a year With tories had a tussle.
Bold Champe, when mounted on old Rip, All button'd up from weather, Sang out, "good bye!" crack'd off his whip, And soon was in the heather.
He gallop'd on towards Paulus Hook, Improving every instant Until a patrol, wide awake, Descried him in the distance.
On coming up, the guard call'd out And ask'd him, where he's going To which he answer'd with his spur, And left him in the mowing.
The bushes pass'd him like the Wind, And pebbles flew asunder. The guard was left far, far behind, All mix'd with mud and wonder.
Lee's troops paraded, all alive, Although 'twas one the morning, And counting o'er a dozen or more, One sergeant is found wanting.
A little hero, full of spunk, But not so full of judgment, Press'd Major Lee to let him go, With the bravest of his reg'ment.
Lee summon'd cornet Middleton, Expressed what was urgent, And gave him orders how to go To catch the rambling sergeant.
Then forty troopers, more or less, Set off across the meader; 'Bout thirty-nine went jogging on A-following their leader.
At early morn, adown a hill They saw the sergeant sliding; So fast he went, it was not ken't, Whether he's rode, or riding.
None looked back, but on they spurr'd, A-gaining every minute. To see them go, 'twould done you good, You'd thought old Satan in it.
The sergeant miss'd 'em, by good luck, And took another tracing, He turn'd his horse from Paulus Hook, Elizabethtown facing.
It was the custom of Sir Hal To send his galleys cruising, And so it happened just then, That two were at Van Deusen's.
Strait unto these the sergeant went, And left old Rip, all standing, A waiting for the blown cornet, At Squire Van Deusen's landing.
The troopers didn't gallop home, But rested from their labors; And some 'tis said took gingerbread And cider from the neighbors.
'Twas just at eve the troopers reach'd The camp they left that morning, Champe's empty saddle, unto Lee, Gave an unwelcome warning.
"If Champe has suffered, 'tis my fault;" So thought the generous major: "I would not have his garment touch'd, For millions on a wager!"
"The cornet told him all he knew, Excepting of the cider. The troopers, all, spurr'd very well But Champe was the best rider!"
And so it happen'd that brave Champe Unto Sir Hal deserted, Deceiving him, and you, and me, And into York was flirted.
He saw base Arnold in his camp, Surrounded by the legion, And told him of the recent prank That threw him in that region.
Then Arnold grinn'd, and rubb'd his hands, And e'enmost chok'd with pleasure, Not thinking Champe was all the while A "taking of his measure."
Come now," says he, "my bold soldier, As you're within our borders, Let's drink our fill, old care to kill, To-morrow you'll have orders."
Full soon the British fleet set sail! Say! wasn't that a pity? For thus it was brave Sergeant Champe Was taken from the city.
To southern climes the shipping flew, And anchored in Virginia, When Champe escaped and join'd his friends Among the picininni.
To southern climes the shipping flew, And anchored in Virginia, When Champe escaped and join'd his friends Among the picininni.


   Note: The midi file that is linked to this page was sequenced by Barry Taylor, and included in his website, Taylor's Traditional Tunebook. When Mr. Taylor could no longer maintain the website, Lesley Nelson-Burns offered to maintain the midi files created by Taylor on her own website, located at: