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The Expedition to Danbury

From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol I. Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.

A “royal attack and feat,” under the command of General Tryon, to destroy the stores of beef, pork, and rum.

SCENE. –NEW YORK.

Without wit, without wisdom, half stupid and drunk,
And rolling along arm in arm with his punk,
The gallant Sir William,1 who fights all by proxy,
Thus spoke to his soldiers, held up by his doxy:
“My boys, I’m a going to send you with Tryon,
To a place where you’ll all get as groggy as I am;
And the wounded, when well, shall receive a full gill,
But the slain be allowed just as much as they will.
By a Tory from Danbury I’ve just been informed,
That there’s nobody there, so the place shall be storm’d.”

TRYON:
If there’s nobody there, sir, and nobody near it,
Two thousand will conquer the whole, never fear it.

[JOE GALLOP-AWAY,2 a refugee tory, with several others.]

JOE:
Good soldiers, go fight, that we all may get rich.

SOLDIERS:
Go get you a halter. * * * *
Get out, and go live in the woods upon nuts,
Or I’ll give you my bayonet plump in your —-
D’ye think you contemptible thief-looking crew,
That we fight to get beef for such rascals as you?

TRYON:
Come on, my brave boys, now as bold as a lion,
And march for the honor of General Tryon;
My lads, there’s no danger, for this you may know,
That I’d let it alone if I thought it was so.

SCENE. –CONNECTICUT. TROOPS LANDED.

TRYON:
In cunning and canting, deceit and disguise,
In cheating a friend, and inventing of lies,
I think I’m a match for the best of my species,
But in this undertaking I feel all in pieces;
So I’ll fall in the rear, for I’d rather go last; —
Come, march on, my boys, let me see you all past;
For his Majesty’s service (so says my commission)
Requires that I bring up the whole expedition.

SCENE. –DANBURY. TROOPS ARRIVED.

TRYON:
Come, halloo, my lads, for the day is our own,
No rebels are here; not a soul in the town;
So fire all the houses, and when in a blaze,
We’ll honor the King with a shout of huzzas.

[A noise among the soldiers.]

TRYON:
In his Majesty’s name, what’s this mutinous jargon?

SOLDIERS:
We came to get drunk, sir, for that was the bargain!

IRISH SOLDIER, DRUNK.
Huzza for the Congress–the Congress and toddy.

TRYON:
You scoundrel, I’ll run you quite through the body.

SECOND IRISH SOLDIER:
By the head of St. Paddy,
I care not a louse for King George nor his daddy.

THIRD IRISH SOLDIER:
What plenty is here! Oh what eating and drinking!
Who’d stay in New York, to be starving and —-.

FOURTH IRISH SOLDIER:
The rebels, huzza! in a hat full of rum.

FIFTH IRISH SOLDIER:
Come let us drink bumpers, Jack, –out of a drum.

SCOTCH SOLDIER:
Laird Bute and his clan are a bundle of thieves.

ENGLISH SOLDIER:
Lord North and his gang are a kennel of slaves.

WELSH SOLDIER:
And a Welshman, prave poys, never harbors with knaves.

ALL:
Then let us go over,
Who’d stay to be starv’d, that might thus live in clover?

[They Sing.]

Let freedom and love be the glee of our song,
Let America flourish–the Congress grow strong,
And brave Washington conqueror all the day long.

[A consultation of officers. At a distance, houses and stores on fire.]

TRYON:
I wish I was back, for I’m woefully scar’d,
The light will be seen and the noise will be heard,
And the rebels will gather so thick in on way,
That whether we run for it or whether we stay,
The fate of the whole will be doubtful and then–

[A sudden alarm; an officer in a fright gallops about crying]

To arms, to arms, to arms, –ten thousand men
Are pouring from the clouds–ten thousand more
Are got between the army and the shore,
Ten thousand women too.

TRYON:
Run, run; stop, stop,
Here, help me on my horse before I drop.

[Enter an officer from New York. To Tryon.]

OFFICER:
the King hath promised, sir, you shall be knighted.

TRYON:
The devil take the King–for I am so frighted–

OFFICER:
But, sir, you must attend to what I’ve said.

TRYON:
Why, then, the King must knight me when I’m dead.

OFFICER:
But I bring orders, sir, which say “you must“–

TRYON:
Aye, must or not, I’ll have a gallop first.

[Sets off with the whole after him.]

SCENE. –THE SHIPPING.

[Troops on board. Tryon surrounded with Surgeons.]

TRYON:
My belly’s full of balls–I hear them rattle.

SURGEON:
‘Tis only, sir, the echo of the battle.

TRYON:
Do search me over–see where ’tis I’m wounded.

SURGEON:
You are not hurt, sir.

TRYON:
Then I am confounded;
For as I stood, not knowing what to do,
Whether to fight to fly, or to pursue,
A cannon ball, of two and thirty pound,
Struck me just where Sir Peter3 got his wound;
Then passing on between my horse’s ears–

SURGEON:
Compose yourself, good sir–forget your cares,
You are not slain–you are alive and well.

TRYON:
Between my horse’s ears, and down he fell,
Then getting up again,

SURGEON:
Dear sir, compose,
And try to get yourself into a doze;
The hurt you’ve got is not so dangerous deep,
But bleeding, shaving, patience, time, and sleep,
With blisters, clysters, physic, air, and diet,
Will set you up again, if you’ll be quiet.

TRYON:
So thick, so fast, the balls and bullets flew,
Some hit me here, some there, some thro’ and thro’–
And so by thousands did the rebels muster
Under Generals Arnold and old Wooster,
That let me, let me, let me, let me but
Get off alive–farewell Connecticut.4

 

1 General Sir William Howe, whose irregularities are now pretty well known.
2 See page 369, ante.
3 Sir Peter Parker. See page 258, ante.
4 “Comus,” in the Pennsylvania Gazette, May 14, and Pennsylvania Evening Post, May 22.

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