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“Cow Chace,” the

In the summer of 1780 Washington sent General Wayne, with a considerable force, to storm a British block-house at Bull's Ferry, on the Hudson, near Fort Lee, and to drive into the American camp a large number of cattle on Bergen Neck exposed to British foragers, who might go out from Paulus's Hook (now Jersey City). Wayne was repulsed at the block-house, with a loss of sixty-four men, but returned to camp with a large number of cattle driven by his dragoons. This event inspired Major Andre, Sir Henry Clinton's adjutant-general, to write a satirical poem, which he called The Cow Chace, in which Wayne and his fellow-“rebels” were severely ridiculed. It was written in the style of the English ballad of Chevy Chace, in three cantos. The following is a copy of the poem; we also give fac-similes of its title from Andre‘s autograph, and of the concluding verse of the original:

Elizabethtown, Aug. 1, 1780.

Canto I.

To drive the kine one summer's morn,
The tanner took his way,
The calf shall rue that is unborn
The jumbling of that day.

And Wayne descending steers shall know,
And tauntingly deride,
And call to mind, in ev'ry low,
The tanning of his hide.

Yet Bergen cows still ruminate
Unconscious in the stall, [408]
What mighty means were used to get,
And lose them after all.

For many heroes bold and brave
From New Bridge and Tapaan.
And those that drink Passaic's wave,
And those that eat soupaan.

And sons of distant Delaware,
And still remoter Shannon,
And Major Lee with horses rare,
And Proctor with his cannon.

All wondrous proud in arms they came—
What hero could refuse,
To tread the rugged path to fame,
Who had a pair of shoes?

At six the host, with sweating buff,
Arrived at Freedom's Pole,
When Wayne, who thought he'd time enough,
Thus speechified the whole:

“O ye whom glory doth unite,
Who Freedom's cause espouse,
Whether the wing that's doom'd to fight,
Or that to drive the cows;

“Ere yet you tempt your further way,
Or into action come,
Hear, soldiers, what I have to say,
And take a pint of rum.

“Intemp'rate valor then will string
Each nervous arm the better,
So all the land shall Io! sing,
And read the gen'ral's letter.

“Know that some paltry refugees,
Whom I've a mind to fight,
Are playing h—l among the trees
That grow on yonder height.

“Their fort and block-house we will level,
And deal a horrid slaughter;
We'll drive the scoundrels to the devil,
And ravish wife and daughter.

“I under cover of th' attack,
While you are all at blows,
From English Neighb'rhood and Tinack
Will drive away the cows.

“For well you know the latter is
The serious operation,
And fighting with the refugees
Is only demonstration.”

His daring words from all the crowd
Such great applause did gain,
That every man declared aloud
For serious work with Wayne.

Then from the cask of rum once more
They took a heady gill,
When one and all they loudly swore
They'd fight upon the hill.

But here—the Muse has not a strain
Befitting such great deeds,
Hurra, they cried, hurra for Wayne!
And, shouting, did their needs.

Canto II.

Near his meridian pomp, the sun
Had journeyed from the horizon,
When fierce the dusky tribe moved on,
Of heroes drunk as poison.

The sounds confused of boasting oaths
Re-echoed through the wood,
Some vow'd to sleep in dead men's clothes,
And some to swim in blood.

At Irvine's nod, 'twas fine to see
The left prepared to fight,
The while the drovers, Wayne and Lee,
Drew off upon the right.

Which Irvine 'twas Fame don't relate,
Nor can the Muse assist her,
Whether 'twas he that cocks a hat,
Or he that gives a glister.

For greatly one was signalized
That fought at Chestnut Hill,
And Canada immortalized
The vender of the pill.

Yet the attendance upon Proctor
They both might have to boast of,
For there was business for the doctor,
And hats to be disposed of.

Let none uncandidly infer
That Stirling wanted spunk;
The self-made peer had sure been there,
But that the peer was drunk.

But turn we to the Hudson's banks,
Where stood the modest train,
With purpose firm, though slender ranks,
Nor cared a pin for Wayne.

For then the unrelenting hand
Of rebel fury drove,
And tore from ev'ry genial band
Of friendship and of love.

And some within a dungeon's gloom,
By mock tribunals laid,
Had waited long a cruel doom,
Impending o'er their heads.

Here one bewails a brother's fate,
There one a sire demands,
Cut off, alas! before their date,
By ignominious hands.

And silvered grandsires here appeared
In deep distress serene,
Of reverend manners that declared
The better days they'd seen.

Oh! cursed rebellion, these are thine;
Thine are these tales of woe;
Shall at thy dire insatiate shrine
Blood never cease to flow?

And now the foe began to lead
His forces to th' attack;
Balls whistling unto balls succeed,
And make the block-house crack. [409]

No shot could pass, if you will take
The gen'ral's word for true;
But 'tis a d—ble mistake,
For ev'ry shot went through.

The firmer as the rebels pressed,
The loyal heroes stand;
Virtue had nerved each honest breast,
And Industry each hand.

In1 valor's frenzy, Hamilton
Rode like a soldier big,
And secretary Harrison,
With pen stuck in his wig.

But, lest chieftain Washington
Should mourn them in the mumps,2
The fate of Withrington to shun,
They fought behind the stumps.

But ah! Thaddeus Posset, why
Should thy poor soul elope?
And why should Titus Hooper die,
Ah! die—without a rope?

Apostate Murphy, thou to whom
Fair Shela ne'er was cruel;
In death shalt hear her mourn thy doom,
Och! would ye die, my jewel?

Thee, Nathan Pumpkin, I lament,
Of melancholy fate,
The gray goose, stolen as he went,
In his heart's blood was wet.

Now as the fight was further fought
And balls began to thicken,
The fray assumed, the gen'rals thought,
The color of a licking.

Yet undismayed the chiefs command,
And, to redeem the day,
Cry, “Soldiers, charge!” they hear, they stand,
They turn and run away.

Canto III.

Not all delights the bloody spear,
Or horrid din of battle,
There are, I'm sure, who'd like to hear
A word about the rattle.

The chief whom we beheld of late,
Near Schralenberg haranguing,
At Yan Van Poop's unconscious sat
Of Irvine's hearty banging.

While valiant Lee, with courage wild,
Most bravely did oppose
The tears of women and of child,
Who begged he'd leave the cows.

But Wayne, of sympathizing heart,
Required a relief,
Not all the blessings could impart,
Of battle or of beef.

For now a prey to female charms,
His soul took more delight in
A lovely Hamadryad's3 arms
Than cow driving or fighting.

A nymph, the refugees had drove
Far from her native tree,
Just happen'd to be on the move,
When up came Wayne and Lee.

She in mad Anthony's fierce eye
The hero saw portrayed,
And, all in tears, she took him by
—the bridle of his jade.

Hear, said the nymph, O great commander,
No human lamentations,
The trees you see them cutting yonder
Are all my near relations.

And I, forlorn, implore thine aid
To free the sacred grove:
So shall thy prowess be repaid
With an immortal's love.

Now some, to prove she was a goddess!
Said this enchanting fair
Had late retired from the Bodies,4
In all the pomp of war.

That drums and merry fifes had played
To honor her retreat,
And Cunningham himself conveyed
The lady through the street.

Great Wayne, by soft compassion swayed,
To no inquiry stoops,
But takes the fair, afflicted maid
Right into Yan Van Poop's.

So Roman Antony, they say,
Disgraced th' imperial banner,
And for a gypsy lost a day,
Like Anthony the tanner.

The Hamadryad had but half
Received redress from Wayne,
When drums and colors, cow and calf,
Came down the road amain.

All in a cloud of dust were seen,
The sheep, the horse, the goat,
The gentle heifer, ass obscene
The yearling and the shoat.

And pack-horses with fowls came by,
Befeathered on each side,
Like Pegasus, the horse that I
And other poets ride.

Sublime upon the stirrups rose
The mighty Lee behind,
And drove the terror-smitten cows,
Like chaff before the wind.

But sudden see the woods above
Pour down another corps,
All helter-skelter in a drove,
Like that I sung before. [410]

Irvine and terror in the van
Came flying all abroad,
And cannon, colors, horse, and man
Ran tumbling to the road.

Still as he fled, 'twas Irvine's cry,
And his example too,
“Run on, my merry men all—for why?”
The shot will not go through.5

As when two kennels in the street,
Swell'd with a recent rain,
In gushing streams together meet,
And seek the neighboring drain,

So meet these dung-born tribes in one,
As swift in their career,
And so to New Bridge they ran on—
But all the cows got clear.

Poor Parson Caldwell, all in wonder,
Saw the returning train,
And mourned to Wayne the lack of plunder,
For them to steal again.

For 'twas his right to seize the spoil, and
To share with each commander,
As he had done at Staten Island
With frost-bit Alexander.

In his dismay, the frantic priest
Began to grow prophetic,
You had swore, to see his lab'ring breast,
He'd taken an emetic.

“I view a future day,” said he,
“Brighter than this day dark is,
And you shall see, what you shall see,
Ha! ha! one pretty marquis;

“And he shall come to Paulus' Hook,
And great achievements think on,
And make a bow and take a look,
Like Satan over Lincoln.

“And all the land around shall glory
To see the Frenchman caper,
And pretty Susan tell the story,
In the next Chatham paper.”

This solemn prophecy, of course,
Gave all much consolation,
Except to Wayne, who lost his horse
Upon the great occasion.

His horse that carried all his prog,
His military speeches,
His corn-stalk whiskey for his grog—
Blue stockings and brown breeches.

And now I've clos'd my epic strain,
I tremble as I show it,
Lest this same warrio-drover, Wayne,
Should ever catch the poet.

The last canto was published on the day when Andre was captured at Tarrytown. At the end of the autograph copy was written the following stanza, in a neat hand:

When the epic strain was sung,
The poet by the neck was hung;
And to his cost he finds too late,
The dung-born tribe decides his fate.
Five refugees ('tis true) were found
Stiff on the block-house floor,
But then 'tis thought the shot went round,
And in at the back-door.

Wayne was in command of the troops from whom the guard was drawn that attended Andre‘s execution.

1 See Lee's trial.

2 A disorder prevalent in the rebel lines.

3 A deity of the woods.

4 A cant appellation given among the soldiery to the corps that has the honor to guard his majesty's person.

5 *

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