The Hero of Bridgewater by Charles L.S. Jones

hero bridgewater General Winfield Scott at the Time of the War of 1812
General Winfield Scott at the Time of the War of 1812

Seize, O seize the sounding Lyre,
With its quivering string!
Strike the chords, in ecstasy,
Whilst loud the valleys ring!
Sing the Chief, who, gloriously,
From England’s veteran band,
Pluck’d the wreaths of Victory,
To grace his native land!

Where Bridgewater’s war-fam’d stream
Saw the foemen reel,
Thrice repuls’d, with burnish’d gleam
Of bayonet, knife, and steel;
And its crimson’d waters run
Red with gurgling flow,
As Albion’s gathering hosts his arm,
His mighty arm, laid low.

Strike the sounding string of fame,
O Lyre! Beat loud, ye drums!
Ye clarion blasts exalt his name!
Behold the hero comes!
I see Columbia, joyously,
Her palmy circlet throw
Around his high victorious brow
Who laid her foemen low!

Take him Fame! For thine he is!
On silvery columns, rear
The name of Scott, whence envious Time
Shall ne’er its honors tear!
And thou, O, Albion, quake with dread!
Ye veterans shrink, the while,
Whene’er his glorious name shall sound
To shake your sea girt isle!

Source: Charles L. S. Jones,  American Lyrics; Comprising The Discovery, a Poem; Sapphic, Pindaric and Common Odes; Songs and Tales of American and Patriotic Subjects, and also Imitations From the Greek, Latin, French, and Spanish. Mobile: Pollard & Dade, 1834

The Siege of Fort Erie by J.M. Harper

Sir Gordon holds the frontier line — all honour to his name —
Save only the stronghold to the south, near by Niagara’s stream —
Fort Erie of dismal remembrance, far up from the cataract,
Which the foe has strengthened all anew, since last it was attacked;
And as he thinks of the laurels won, on the field of Lundy’s Lane,
He fain would have the place re-ta’en, ere ends the year’s campaign.

That fort had fallen, the invader’s prize, a month or so before,
An easy prey to General Brown withstanding Britain’s power;
But amplified and girt around, as a citadel may be
A menace it stands to Drummond’s braves, who would the country free;
And its demilunes and bastioned wall, its batteries all in train,
Are his to seize in England’s name, her prowess to sustain.

And still, of a summer’s day, the book lies open to our hand,
As we linger amid the ruins, its tales to understand.
In the light and shade of the landscape, dotted o’er with homestead cheer,
We still may trace how the besiegers came to test the arts of war.
From the lintel-stone of some ruined keep, we may dream of the bloodstained din,
In the open field or round the walls, where mastery sought to win.

Who says the rival nations think to end their long-drawn feud?
Has any one heard in the ravelin such tiding there intrude?
Nay, rather, Sir Gordon is on his way, past the cataract’s echoing roar,
Awaking the hamlets, one by one, with nought but the tidings of war,
See, yonder, is where his army lay, beyond gun-range of the fort,
Prepared to dare every danger that lurked in its garrisoned court!

And the August sunsets come and go, like fringes of tragedy,
With bastion responding to battery, to the throbbing of woodland and lea;
While Sir Gordon is ever evolving his plans, to compass the place about,
In a nearer approach to its front and rear, from ravelin to redoubt;
And when he learns of Dobbs’ success, he decrees a night attack,
With three of his trusty colonels, the assault in line to make.

        ’Tis Fisher commands the wing to the right:
            ’Tis Towson’s he seeks to beset;
        And its twenty-four pounder greets his advance,
            From its ominous parapet.
        Will he dare these throbs of disaster?
            Will he reach the edge of the lake,
        Where under or over the palisades,
            An inner attack he may make?
        Yea, his courage will dare, whate’er the despair,
            All blasts from that cavern of wrath,
        As he keeps hovering near, his comrades to cheer,
            Amid the turmoil of death.
Continue reading “The Siege of Fort Erie by J.M. Harper”

Lines Written in Drummond Hill Cemetery by Ada Elizabeth Fuller

(The site of the Battle of Lundy’s Lane in 1814)

Gravestone of Robert Randall,  Drummond Hill Cemetery, Niagara Falls, Ontario
Gravestone of Robert Randall, Drummond Hill Cemetery, Niagara Falls, Ontario. Photo courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

The brooding voice of spring is in the air,
The mighty winds are hushed, are very still;
Within a burial ground I wind my way 
A sunny place upon a sunny hill.

I fain would read a legend here and there,
But Time has passed with his erasing hand;
And, on the battered stones that head these graves,
The half-intelligible letters stand.

The peace of God, which no man understands,
Beams kindly down upon the greening sod,
And, underneath, where sacred ashes lie
Of those whove gone before to meet their God.

Full many an unknown spirit lies at peace
With heart against the earths warm heart close-pressed:
Their dust, as ashes of the rose that lie,
Its perfume gone, fallen to earths soft breast.

The summer sky is kind to all alike,
And over all the skies are fair and clear;
And, in the solemn stillness of this hour,
It seems as if I were intruding here.

But no resentment these poor ashes feel,
For God has called their souls from here below;
And in this hour He speaks to my lone soul —
He seems to call and I could wish twere so.

But God has measured out my length of days,
And His sweet will is all in all to me.
O Father, guide my thoughts, my life, my soul,
To thy great glory, till Thou callest me!

Source: Kevin McCabe, ed. The Poetry of Old Niagara. St. Catharines, Ont. : Blarney Stone Books, 1999.

Originally published: Ada Elizabeth Fuller. Sunshine and Shadow. Niagara Falls, 1919.


The Battle of Lundy’s Lane by Duncan Campbell Scott

Battle of Lundy's Lane by Alonzo Chappel,
Battle of Lundy’s Lane by Alonzo Chappel

Rufus Gale Speaks – 1852

Yes, – in the Lincoln Militia, – in the war of eighteen-twelve;
Many’s the day I’ve had since then to dig and delve –
But those are the years I remember as the brightest years of all,
When we left the plow in the furrow to follow the bugle’s call.
Why, even our son Abner wanted to fight with the men!
“Don’t you go, d’ye hear, sir!” – I was angry with him then.
“Stay with your mother!” I said, and he looked so old and grim –
He was just sixteen that April – I couldn’t believe it was him;
But I didn’t think – I was off – and we met the foe again,
Five thousand strong and ready, at the hill by Lundy’s Lane.
There as the night came on we fought them from six to nine,
Whenever they broke our line we broke their line,
They took our guns and we won them again, and around the levels
Where the hill sloped up – with the Eighty-ninth, – we fought like devils
Around the flag; – and on they came and we drove them back,
Until with its very fierceness the fight grew slack.
Continue reading “The Battle of Lundy’s Lane by Duncan Campbell Scott”

Ode to a Bytown Youth by J. A. Murphy

“Enshrined in the records of Canadian achievement a century ago, is the fascinating and thrilling story of a daring feat performed at Brock’s monument on Queenston Heights by a young Bytonian — Matthew Murphy, father of Mr. J.A. Murphy of 412 McLeod Street. Mr. Murphy has penned the following lines relating to the historic incident but fuller details will be found in a story elsewhere on this page.” Ottawa Citizen, December 17, 1938

S.E. View of Brock’s Monument on Queenston Heights as it appeared May 9, A.D.1841
“S.E. View of Brock’s Monument on Queenston Heights as it appeared May 9, A.D.1841”
Well nigh a century ago, Beside Niagara's river, On Queenston Heights was struck a blow Brock's monument to shiver.
A dastard alien's coward hand Had piled within its bottle A quarter hundred powder bags The tower to o'ertopple.
When fired, the blast was strong enough The wooden stair to shatter, Mortar and stone proved all too tough, For such a piffling matter.
As angry embryo nation rose To right the wrong intended, From town and country, copse and close, Their various ways they wended.
Not trains nor aeroplanes, nor cars Conveyed these sturdy yeomen. None carried arms though some bore scars, But all were worthy foemen.
They rode, they ran, they sailed, they swam O'er trails through swamps, wet, dreary; Berries and leaves their stomachs cram, Footsore they were, and weary.
From nearby hills and dales they come, From broad Ontario's beaches, Where'er a spark or loyal flame Gave urge to man the breaches.
Another such determined host Not all our land could muster They frightened rebels from our coast And quelled the Yankee bluster.
Continue reading "Ode to a Bytown Youth by J. A. Murphy"