Source: Emmons, Richard. The Fredoniad; or, Independence Preserved. An Epic Poem on The Late War of 1812. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: W. Emmons, 1832
A discussion of this poem can be found in Severance, Frank H. Old Trails on the Niagara Frontier. Buffalo: The Matthews-Northrup Co., 1899 (Chapter entitled Niagara and the Poets) Available digitally by clicking here
THE BRITISH, in Canada, proudly display
Their forces, collecting in battle array ;
But when to derange or to strike the Guelphs down,
We wish, or determine,… Scott, Perry and Brown…. ‡‡Will prove themselves valiant, and worthy, and free, ‡‡In battles on shore, boys, and battles at sea.
So Hull, Ransellaer—Burrows, Lawrence and Pike,
On the minds of their chieftains such terror would strike,
As to throw them amaz’d and astonish’d aghast,
With muscles close strain’d… as a shoe to a mast. ‡‡They prov’d themselves valiant, and worthy and free, ‡‡In battles on shore, boys, and battles at sea.
So Bainbridge and Porter, Decatur and Jones,
And all the brave heroes, America owns, Rodgers, Harrison, Warrington, each glorious name,
In our annals enroll’d and distinguish’d in fame : ‡‡All prove themselves valiant, and worthy and free, ‡‡In battles on shore, boys, and battles at sea. JOHN BULL once believ’d, in the mischance of War,
When Coercion was substitute, render’d for Law ;
Declar’d as our Rights ; — and enforc’d from the Throne,
For all which, their nation’s best blood did atone. ‡‡We prov’d ourselves valiant, and worthy and free, ‡‡In battles on shore, boys, and battles at sea.
But now BULLy JOHN, in his dotage and dreams,
Believes us a National people, it seems ;
But ranging as Arbiter round the wide world,
He would have us conform, or to ruin be hurl’d. ‡‡We will prove to JOHN BULL, we are valiant and free, ‡‡In battles on shore, boys, and battles at sea.
So it seems “ giant ” JOHN — with his ships and his arms,
Intends, for us Yankees, a great many harms ;
But the prodigal now, with his fortune all made,
Is out-law’d in Honor, and bankrupt in Trade. ‡‡While the Yankees are valiant, and worthy and free, ‡‡In battles on shore, boys, and battles at sea.
The British, in triumph, establish their Stakes,
Along the Atlantic, and round the great Lakes ;
But away from their posts, they are sure to retreat,
When with equal force match’d ; ’tis their death and defeat ‡‡We prove ourselves valiant, and worthy and free, ‡‡In battles on shore, boys, and battles at sea. Lord Wellington’s armies, the Indians and all,
Nor Frauds, nor Blockades shall our FREEDOM enthral,
Our RIGHTS, as our life-blood, are equally dear,
And as true to our Nation…we’re Brave without Fear. ‡‡We prove ourselves valiant, and worthy and free, ‡‡In battles on shore, boys, and battles at sea.
How many brave heroes, at Chippewa fell ;
Of their actions hereafter shall history tell ;
Embalm’d in our hearts, shall their memories be,
While our hearts uncorrupted shall love LIBERTY. ‡‡For they proved themselves valiant, and worthy and free, ‡‡In battles on shore, boys, and battles at sea.
Brave SCOTT, is a Hero, the Soldier, the Man,
He leads as the chief, and directs in the van ;
To glory he leads, — mid war’s clangor and blaze,
He’s the Victor enlaurell’d, — deserving our praise. ‡‡So prove yourselves valiant, and worthy, and free, ‡‡In battles on shore, boys, and battles at sea.
Soon the heroic BROWN meets the Canada troops
Unmov’d by their threats, or their shouts or yell-hoops
He offers them battle, on terms to contend,
He fights like a Soldier, but treats like a Friend. ‡‡So fight, ye brave boys, as you’re valiant and free, ‡‡In battles on shore, boys, and battles at sea.
He captures their garrison ; moves on in arms,
And triumphs as victor, amid their alarms ;
He engages, again and again, on the field ;
Compelling the vanquished Britons to yield. ‡‡Thus prove yourselves valiant, and worthy and free, ‡‡In battles on shore, boys, and battles at sea.
On the evening of July, the twenty-fifth day,
Where the moon beams reflect, in Niagara’s spray,
Where the noise of the cataract echoes around,
There Riall and Brown, and their Troops take their ground. ‡‡The Yankees are conq’rors — valiant and free, ‡‡In battles on land, boys, and battles at sea.
Dislodg’d from their strong holds, at ev’ry place,
They fall or surrender, or run with disgrace ;
They attack, they retreat ; — they pant for relief ;
All is lost ! — their best troops — and their ambitious Chief. ‡‡The Yankees are victors…they’re valiant and free, ‡‡In battles on land boys, and battles at sea.
Seven hours rag’d the battle ! — then in silence profound,
The victims and wounded, bestrewing the ground,
Exhibit a scene, which all hearts must deplore,
‘Tis the fate of all WARS ! — but the Battle is o’er ! ‡‡We prove ourselves valiant, and worthy and free, ‡‡In battles on shore, boys, and battles at sea. Our Heroes, and chiefs, in the Battle, survive ;
Many fall ! — and O ! could brave SPENCER but live !
But in glory, he dies, with his compeers in arms ;
May regret and respect fill the heart as it warms. ‡‡Let us prove ourselves valiant, and worthy and free, ‡‡In battles on shore, boys, and battles at sea.
The British are vanquish’d again and again,
On the Lakes, in the field, on each mound, and each plain,
Their DAY-STAR’S bright lustre bedim’d disappears ;
While our glory increases, with th’ increase of years. ‡‡We prove ourselves valiant, and worthy and free, ‡‡In battles on land, boys, and battles at sea.
Drop a tear o’er the scene ; like Leonidas’ band,
Our youth fight and die, at their country’s command :
As “sacred to mem’ry”— triumphantly raise,
Where they fall….monumental inscriptions of Praise. ‡‡They prove themselves valiant, and worthy and free, ‡‡In battles on land, boys, and battles at sea.
Be the chief Gen. BROWN, and the brave Gen. SCOTT,
By the Sons of Columbia never forgot ;
May our hearts all unite, in America’s cause,
In defence of our Honor, Rights, Freedom and Laws. ‡‡Thus prove ourselves valiant, and worthy and free, ‡‡In battles on shore, boys, and battles at sea.
Source: Boston: Printed by N. Coverly, 1814
At head of poem:
BLOODY BATTLE NEAR NIAGARA.
The United States’ army, commanded by Major JACOB BROWN, victorious over the British Forces, under the command of Major General RIALL ; “The action commenced on the 25th July, at 5 o’clock P.M. and continued without intermission till midnight.” The enemy was driven at every position ; his battery stormed, and all his artillery taken by the Americans ; Gen. RIALL, 20 officers of rank, and near 300 privates were made prisoners. Generals Brown and Scott severely wounded, the brave Capt. Spencer mortally. The loss on both sides in this severe engagement was very great. The U. S. troops under Gen. Ripley, maintained their position several hours after the action, and then fell back upon Fort Erie as a measure of precaution. Success attend the arms of the UNITED STATES, to effect an honorable and lasting PEACE.
John Neal was of Quaker descent but was read out of the society. He was a pioneer in American literature, being the first American contributor to English and Scotch quarterlies. He was an artist, a lawyer, traveler, journalist, athlete and an advocate of woman suffrage in 1838.
“The Battle of Niagara” was written when the author was a prisoner, or so he informs the reader. It has a metrical introduction with four cantos which tell the story of the Battle of Niagara. This story is interspersed with various flights of poetic fancy on the scenery and surroundings of the Falls.
N.B. The Battle of Niagara is now formally known as the Battle of Lundy’s Lane. Other names have included the Battle of Niagara Falls and the Battle of Bridgewater.
*Dow, Charles Mason. Anthology and Bibliography of Niagara Falls. Albany: State of New York, 1921, p. 699
From Frank H. Severance:**
As I survey the literature of this- period I find no bolder utterance, no fiercer defiance of Great Britain’s “Hordes,” than in the sonorous stanzas of some of our gentle poets. Iambic defiance, unless kindled by a grand genius, is a poor sort of fireworks, even when it undertakes to combine patriotism and appreciation of natural scenery. Certainly something might be expected of a poet who sandwiches Niagara Falls in between bloody battles and gives us the magnificent in nature, the gallant in warfare and the loftiest patriotism in purpose, the three strains woven in a triple paean of passion, 94 duodecimo pages in length. Such a work was offered to the world at Baltimore in 1818, with this title-page: “Battle of Niagara, a Poem without Notes, and Goldau, or the Maniac Harper. Eagles and Stars and Rainbows. By Jehu O’Cataract, author of ‘Keep Cool.’ ” I have never seen “Keep Cool,” but it must be very different from the “Battle of Niagara,” or it belies its name. The fiery Jehu O’Cataract was John Neal, or “Yankee Neal,” as he was called.
The “Battle of Niagara,” he informs the reader, was written when he was a prisoner; when he “felt the victories of his countrymen.” The poem has a metrical introduction and four cantos, in which is told, none too lucidly, the story of the battle of Niagara, with such flights of eagles, scintillation of stars and breaking of rainbows, that no quotation can do it justice. In style it is now Miltonic, now reminiscent of Walter Scott. The opening canto is mainly an apostrophe to the Bird, and a vision of glittering horsemen. Canto two is a dissertation on Lake Ontario, with word-pictures of the primitive Indian. The rest of the poem is devoted to the battle near the great cataract—and throughout all are sprinkled the eagles, stars and rainbows. Do not infer from this that the production is wholly bad; it is merely a good specimen of that early American poetry which was just bad enough to escape being good.
‘Tis a sweet September evening, and the sun is sinking low;
In a hundred gorgeous colors the Canadian forests show,
Streamlets murmur through the valley, song-birds warble in the trees,
There is glory in the sunset, and there’s perfume in the breeze.
∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗
“Tell us, grandpa,” said young Charley, as his wooden sword he swung,
“Tell us of the famous battle that you fought when you were young;
How that scar came on your forehead; how it is you were not slain;
For the folks say you did bravely at the battle of Lundy’s Lane.”
Gaily smiled the tall old farmer as he stroked the golden head
Of his fair and favored grandchild. “You’re a tease, my boy,” he said
“But if Angus cease his drumming and if Will from noise refrain,
And if Alice sit beside me, I shall tell of Lundy’s Lane.”
Silent all, they crowded ’round him, when the veteran thus began: —
“I belonged to the ‘Glengarries,’ true and loyal every man:
At Niagara we joined Drummond, on the morning of the fight,
And with the Royal Scots were posted upon the British right.
“Ah! I never shall forget it, ’twas an evening in July,
Not a ripple stirred the river, not a cloud obscured the sky,
Swallows skimmed along the ridges, cattle browsed upon the plain,
Where, but thirty minutes after, lay the wounded and the slain.
“How the fight began I know not, but the sun had just gone down,
When the Yankees charged our centre, with their leaders Scott and Brown;
‘Steady boys,’ cried our Commander, ‘when you fire at all, aim low.’—
“We could see (so close they pressed us) their fierce eyes and faces pale;
We could hear their execrations when they found their efforts fail;
When they bay’netted our gunners, other gunners took their place;
Breast to breast we fought each other, though we were of kindred race.
Like the billows of the ocean they came on with mighty force;
As the rocks receive the billows, so we checked them in their course;
And our shot and shell ploughed through them, when defeated they fell back,
Making lanes in their battalions, leaving ruin in their track.
“Light departed, but the combat flashed and thundered all the same,
And the muskets sent forth volleys, and the cannon sheets of flame;
As the hour wore on the fighting grew more desperate than before,
And the terrors of the battle hushed loud Niagara’s roar.
On came Scott, who threw his columns ‘gainst our front and on our flanks,
But our Drummond, ever wary, met the shock with serried ranks;
On came Brown with levelled bay’net through the smoke and through the night.
We could see his steel line gleaming like a streak of morning light.
“Scott and Brown and the valiant Miller, they were baffled one by one,
And their bravest fell in hundreds, with the chiefs who led them on.
Still the odds were telling ‘gainst us (we were fighting one to three),
Till the cheers of fresh re’nforcements gave us hope of victory.
“Now a lull came in the battle, and the armies drew their breath,
And the moon from out the low’ring clouds shone on the fields of death.
Oh! my children! you could never, never wish for war again,
Had you seen that field of carnage—heard the groans of wounded men.
They were strewn along the valley, they were bleeding everywhere,
While the dying cried for water in the depths of their despair—
‘Here am I,’ mocked near Niagara, with its deep resounding roar;
‘Here am I, a mighty volume, falling water evermore!’
“Havoc paused but for a moment—soon the foe he charged again,
Making one last desperate effort, but in vain, ’twas all in vain;
For, though numbers sore oppressed us, still our hearts and steel were true,
And we kept our ground, as firmly rooted as the sturdy maple grew.
“Threw we then his shattered columns down the thrice ensanguined slope.
‘See the moon uprise,’ said Drummond, ‘now my boys no longer grope.
Charge!’ Oh how we cheered, and charged them till they broke and fled amain,
And they left us in possession of the field of Lundy’s Lane.”
“But the scar, Grandpa,” said Angus, “Tell us how you got the scar?”
“From a Yankee’s flashing sabre, ’twas an accident of war.”
“But they say, Grandpa, you killed him,” little Alice, breathless, cried:
“It is getting late, my children, let us home,” the veteran sighed.
Source: Morden, James C. Historical Monuments and Observatories of Lundy’s Lane and Queenston Heights. Niagara Falls: The Lundy’s Lane Historical Society, 1929.
At head of title: The following poem was lately discovered in an old scrapbook.
O’er Huron’s wave the orb of light
Sunk low in his diurnal flight,
And close behind the shades of night ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Spread out their sable canopy.
To Lundy’s Lane the foemen flew,
And thick array’d in hostile view,
E’er the resplendent arch withdrew ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡That high o’erarch’d Niagara.
But as the parting glance of day
Shed its last beams upon the spray
That crown’d the tumbling flood, the play ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Of battle hasten’d rapidly.
The bugle shrill the war-note spoke;
The maddening drum with furious stroke —
But louder, more appalling, broke ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡The thunders of th’ artillery.
Faint thro’ the war-cloud, dense and dun,
The moon with crimson’d crescent shone,
white gleam’d the battle’s lightenings on, ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡T’illume the awful scenery.
Fight on ye brave! but who shall know,
Or where to aim th’ uncertain blow,
Or whether bleeds a friend or foe, ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡To stain the wreaths of victory?
Ceased has the fight’s tremendous roar;
The cannon’s thunders peal no more;
But death’s dark harbinger hangs o’er ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡The battle’s utmost boundary.
Charge, charge, amain! the bugle sounds;
At once the clashing steel resounds;
And forward fierce the foeman bounds ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡To boldest deeds of chivalry.
Hard pant the combatants for breath,
While bloodier grows the blood stain’d heath,
And gloomier yet the work of death, ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Deep veil’d in night’s obscurity.
To glory rush, ye brave, rush on!
Seize, seize the laurel! lo! ’tis won
The vanquish’d yield — the work is done ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Huzza! the shout is victory.
Sunk is the beam of midnight low;
The fires of death have ceased to glow,
But morn a bloody field shall show, ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Along thy banks, Niagara!
His silent stand the watchman takes,
Or by his wounded comrade wakes,
Whilst the last groan of misery breaks ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Oft midst the dying soldiery.
Ne’er saw these fields so fierce a fight
Since first this flood, with rapid flight,
Majestic from his giant height ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Roll’d thro’ his rugged scenery.
And while his cloud-capt surge shall pour,
May his deep thunder-voice no more
Be mingled with the battle’s roar ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Along his steep declivity.
Flamborough West, July, 1816erieus2
Adam Hood Burwell published poems under the pen name Erieus2
Source: Burwell, Adam Hood. The Poems of Adam Hood Burwell, Pioneer Poet of Upper Canada. ed. by Dr. Carl F. Klinck. (Western Ontario History Nuggets no. 30, May 1963). London, Ont.: Lawson Memorial Library, The University of Western Ontario, 1963
This version of the poem appeared in The Scribbler (Montreal) I, p. 245-246, January 24, 1822
The original version was published in The Niagara Gleaner, date unknown, no copies of The Niagara Gleaner exist before 1818.
In Klinck’s edition, the text of “The Battle of Lundy’s Lane”, dated “Flamborough West, July 1816” is taken from the Scribbler of January 24, 1822. The editor has appended Burwell’s note that the lines had been “a little altered” since they first appeared in the Niagara Gleaner. No copies of the Gleaner printed before 1818 have survived. The poem was also printed in the Montreal Gazette of February 2, 1820, under the heading “from the Gleaner”. The Gazette’s version does vary slightly from that published in the Scribbler, although whether or not it is the same as the Gleaner original we may never be able to ascertain. Apart from differences in punctuation and spelling, and what are probably typographical errors (i.e. stanza 7. Scribbler: “The cannon’s thunders peal no more”. Gazette: “The cannon’s thunder peals no more”), there are three minor and two major differences. In line 4 the Gazette refers to a “murky” rather than a “sable” canopy. In line 7 the Gazette text reads “resplendent bow”, not “resplendent arch”; and in line 43 the Gazette’s field is “bloodier”, rather than “bloody” as in the Scribbler. A more major change is in the tenth stanza where, in the Scribbler version, the last two lines have been altered to remove any specific reference to victor and vanquished. In the Gazette these lines read:
Columbia yields! — the work is done! — Britannia shouts the victory!
The Gazette text also includes a final stanza, missing from the Scribbler.
Long may the trav’ler who has stood, In wonder lost, beside yon flood, Turn to behold this field of blood, Where fought the sons of chivalry.