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The Battle of Plattsburgh : Songs and Tunes of 1814

By Stan Ransom, The Connecticut Peddler. p c2001 by Stanley A. Ransom (BMI). Recorded at the Burnt Hills Studios of Jim and Carol Lombard, Cadyville, NY.

  1. The Battle of Plattsburgh. Broadside. Tune: Yankee Doodle. Drum, Guitar, mandolin. Attributed to Miner Lewis of Mooers Forks, NY., who wrote out the words on chips of wood as he was logging in Mooers Forks.

  2. Roslyn Castle/Backside Albany. Tunes of 1814.  Fifer Nicholas Stoner played “Roslyn  Castle” over the grave at the burial of Captain George Downie, killed in the Battle of Plattsburgh, September 11, 1814.  He was the Commander of the British fleet, and was on board the "Confiance," his flagship.  “Backside Albany” was a poem by Micah Hawkins, to be sung "in the character of a Negro sailor," ridiculing the British efforts.  First performed in Albany February 15, 1815, as part of a play, “The Battle of Plattsburgh.” Instrumental:  Hammered dulcimer, guitar, drum.

  3. Siege of Plattsburgh. Micah Hawkins' poem, set to the Irish tune, Boyne Water, first performed on February 15, 1815. Banjo, drum.

  4. Noble Lads of Canada.  Broadside. Satirical song of the British attack on Plattsburgh,  by British troops from Canada. Guitar, mandolin

  5. British Grenadiers/Scotland the Brave/ King George's March. Instrumental:  Hammered Dulcimer, guitar, drum.  Three British marches.

  6. Sheldon (Lem) Durkee.  Banjo, mandolin.  From  a poem of  1814 by Francis Sterne Palmer. Tune original.

  7. The Boys at the Bridge.  Original. Story of Aiken's Volunteers, young boys who held the Bridge Street Bridge in 1814 from the British. Congress in 1826 awarded them new rifles. Guitar.

  8. New Rigged Ship/Leather Britches/Devil Among the Taylors (Devil’s Dream). Instrumental: hammered dulcimer and guitar.

  9. Banks of Champlain.  Song by Catherine Macomb, wife of General Macomb, in 1814, written as she watched the Battle. Tune:  Banks of the Dee.  Autoharp, mandolin.

  10. Kate of Coleraine/Kitty Tyrrell/Lovely Nancy. Guitar, hammered dulcimer.  Popular 1814 tunes.

  11. Midshipman Paulding.  Original. Story of  the resourceful officer, Hiram Paulding, in  the Battle of Plattsburgh. Guitar. Tune:  Chevy Chase.

  12. A New Song:  The Late War with  Great Britain. Contemporary broadside.  By Silas  Ballou. Tune traditional:  The Girl I Left Behind Me.  Guitar, mandolin. 

  13. The Wasp’s Frolic/Gurriere Dance.  1813 tunes by Charles O’Hara, on the capture of the British “Frolic” by the American “Wasp,” and the sinking of the British Guerriere by Captain Hull. Instrumental:  Hammered dulcimer, guitar, drum.

  14. How Happy the Soldier.  Song popular on both sides  during the War of 1812. Guitar, mandolin, drum.

  15. The Recruiting Officer.  Song, from George Farquhar’s 18th century comedy, “The Recruiting Officer.”  Tune:  Over the Hills and Far Away.  Also used in Gay’s “Beggar’s Opera.” Guitar.

  16. La Belle Catherine/Go to the Devil and Shake Yourself.  Instrumental.  Hammered dulcimer, guitar.  Popular tunes of 1812.

  17. Crab Island: Reflections on Crossing Lake Champlain in the Steamboat Phoenix. Tune original. Poem written in 1822 in her 14th year by Lucretia Maria Davidson. 150 men killed in the Battle of Plattsburgh are buried on Crab Island in Plattsburgh Bay. Guitar.

  18. Nancy Dawson/Flowers of Edinburgh/White Cockade. Hammered dulcimer, guitar. Tunes popular in 1814.

  19. The Wasp’s Frolic.  Song written October 18, 1812, on Captain Jones’ taking of the “Frolic” by the “Wasp.”  Tune:  Old Rosin the Beau.  Guitar, mandolin, autoharp.

  20.  Hey, Betty Martin, Tip Toe Fine. Fifers and drummers frequently played this tune during the War of 1812.  Song about a smart country bumpkin not fooled by city slickers. To all con men he says, “My Eye and Betty Martin!”  Guitar, mandolin, drum. (Note: 3rd verse:  A “jarvis” is a coach.)


  1. American Songster.  Philadelphia, W.A. Leary, 1845. *

  2. Book of a Thousand Songs. New York, Fisher & Brother, 1848. *

  3. Campbell, W.  Campbell’s Book of New and Favorite country Dances and Strathspey Reels.  London, Campbell, 1791. *

  4. Dale, J.  Dale’s Selection of the Most Favorite Country Dances, Reels, etc.  London, J. Dale, 1791. 2 vols. *

  5. Dolph, Edward A. Sound Off!  Soldier Songs from the Revolution to World War II.  New York, Farrar & Rinehart, 1942.

  6. Gibbs, Giles Jr.  His Book for the Fife.  Ellington, CT, 1777.  Edited by Kate Van Winkle Keller.  Hartford, CT, Connecticut Historical Society, 1976. *

  7. Hunt. L.B.  The Centenary of the Battle of Plattsburgh, September 11, 1814 to 1914.  Albany, NY, University of the State of New York, 1914. *

  8. Keller, Kate V.W. and Ralph Sweet.  A Choice Selection of American Country Dances of the Revolutionary Era. Northampton, MA, Country Dance and Song Society, 1976.  3rd ed. 1993. *

  9. Lawrence, Vera B.  Music for Patriots, Politicians and Presidents.  New York, Macmillan, 1975.*

  10. O’Hara, Charles P.F.  The Gentleman’s Musical Repository;  Being a Selection from the Ancient and Modern Music of Erin, with a Number of Scotch and Welsh Airs and Several Original Pieces by the Compiler.  New York, O”Hara, 1813. *

  11. Porter, Marjorie L. Old Plattsburgh.  Plattsburgh, NY, Porter, 1944. *

  12. Porter, Marjorie L. Plattsburgh, 1785, 1815, 1902. With Plattsburgh Barracks. Plattsburgh, NY, Porter, 1964. *

  13. Wheatstone, C.  Wheatstone’s Selection of Elegant and Fashionable Country Dances, Reels, Waltzes, etc.  London, C. Wheatstone, 1791. *

  14. Wilson, R.M.  Connecticut’s Music in the Revolutionary Era.  Hartford, American Revolution Bicentennial Commission of Connecticut, 1979. *

 (* Books in Stan Ransom’s collection.)

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